The attorney general and all-but-certain gubernatorial candidate raised a finger to excuse himself from his middle-aged male dining companion. He raced through the cafe's glass doors, put a cell phone to his ear, looked at the ground, and commenced pacing. Four minutes later he was back inside asking an assistant order him a plate of hummus with pita triangles.
"I've got to get in shape for the campaign. I'm going up against these young guys," Brown, 71, is overheard as saying. "There are two wealthy people running against me. You know you can buy all the eyeballs in California nowadays.."
On his way out, we interrupt Brown to find out how, exactly, he intends to keep up with younger rich opponents such as Gavin Newsom, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and ex eBay CEO Meg Whitman.
"That's the big question, isn't it?" Brown says, before contemplating in silence a few moments the fact I've said I work for SF Weekly.
"The way I'm going to do it is, I'm going to bring a message of how we've got to bring spending in line with revenue," he said. "I'm going to talk sense to the people of California. They need someone who's experienced and knows how to get things done."
I ask Brown about a recent poll in which he beats San Francisco's mayor among Democrats everywhere -- except in the Bay Area.
Brown's from here. Shouldn't he be winning here?
"It was only a small margin," Brown says, before turning to flirt with a group of middle-aged women who are at the cafe for a book club meeting, and then heading back outside.