Best Use of a Fireplace


Remember when wood-fired pizza ovens were all the rage? Russell Moore, a twenty-plus-year veteran of Chez Panisse, has upped the ante at his own restaurant, Camino, with his state-of-the-art wood-fired oven and cooking fireplace. Moore does amazing things with the food he plates up. The blazing hearth and monster oven dominate the rustic and cavernous Grand Avenue restaurant with communal tables and church-pew benches. Moore and his staff do wonders with the wood and fire, turning out delicious, smoke-kissed, wood-oven baked oysters; lovely flame-licked grilled white sea bass; and succulent Dungeness crab dinners. Moore heats cherries, fries lemons, and roasts things like potatoes in duck fat. He creates delicate nettle custard, tasty fava bean gratin, and poaches eggs. He serves goat and pork belly and makes cornmeal-olive oil cake and candy — all on an open flame, with wood. But Moore is no Neanderthal. He has evolved fire-art cooking to the highest order. Just don't be surprised when more Bay Area chefs follow his lead.

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