Exploring African food in the Bay Area typically means finding an Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant, but Soleil's African Kitchen offers dishes from across the continent. Based at the Frog & Fiddle, a West Alameda pub where cougars have been known to playfully prowl for men prey, Soleil's serves dinner five nights a week (Wednesday to Sunday).
The menu of small plates and entrees ($5-$13.75) features dishes from chef Soleil Banguid's native Congo, Cameroon (where his wife and sous chef TJ was born), Tanzania, Morocco, and Kenya, re-imagined with a Californian sensibility for produce and presentation. Many of the nuanced, spicy flavors would be familiar to the internationally-trained palates of locals, though the cassava-based and and almost mashed potato-like fufu, served as an accompaniment, is something of a rarity here despite its continental ubiquity. In general, meals here emphasize that the world doesn't always have to feel so big and distant, at least on the plate.
The couple also teach private cooking classes and have a thriving catering business as well. Their corporate clients include Apple, Intel and Stanford University.
Soleil's African Kitchen is one of seven restaurants participating in the first West Alameda Wine & Dine event on June 28, a social gathering that includes a cocktail gathering, live music, and dinner at your choice of ethnically diverse restaurants in the revitalized neighborhood.