Slacker’s Guide to New Year’s Eve in Oakland

Yesterday I noticed that a couple of friends were surprised that today is the last day of the year, so in salute to procrastinators, slackers, nose-down workers and non-noticers of the area, let’s round up whats going on in Oakland tonight! As of this posting (8am Oakland Standard Time):

Bocanova: “TIERRA Y MAR” / $58 In addition to the regular dinner menu, there is a 4-course Surf & Turf menu, including a complimentary glass of bubbly. The main course: Roast Dungeness Crab with garlic, chile flakes & olive oil and Dry Aged Featherbone Steak with spiced salt & anchovy butter. Menu

Camino – Still some early reservations left! Read about it and reserve here: Choucroute Royale!

District$75 prix fix still has reservations!

Haven$85 prix fix still has reservations!

Lungomare – Two seatings available, choices in three courses $50, $65, Info here!

Plum – Gatsby New Year: $90-95 PER PERSON : OYSTERS with “poor mans caviar”: squid ink, saffron granita, CONSOMME smoked egg yolk, herbs, “WALDORF SALAD” chicken terrine, pickled grapes, walnuts, greens, SOUFFLE CRAB butter, LAMB braised greens, jus, “BAKED ALASKA” vanilla cake, citrus salad, blood orange ice cream, honey meringue Reservations available!

Ramen ShopParty! Get tix here!!

Spice Monkey – Oysters on offer for lunch and dinner!

Tribune Tavern – Two seatings available $45, $65 More info here!

As well, all your favorite local watering holes will be open for a midnight toast: Check out the scene at Ruby Room, 355, Radio, Merchant’s Saloon, The Layover, Penelope, The Trappist, Cafe Van Kleef, Luka’s, Heinolds First and Last, Dogwood, Bench and Bar, Make Westing, Mua, Toast, Ben and Nicks, Ye Old Hut, George and Walts, McNalleys, Baggys by the Lake, Conga Lounge, The Graduate, Barclay’s, Kona Club, Cato’s, The White Horse, Kerry House and Somar are just a start…

Happy New Year, Oaklavores!!!


Brotzeit Loakal : Seaworthy!

Ahoy! On a slightly chilly evening this week, I was on the strip between 880 and the Oakland marina and had a hankering for something other than Speisekammer or Quinn’s Lighthouse. “Oh yeah!! Brotzeit! I’ve been trying to get there one of these nights! Oh there it is, by the north end of that corporate looking hotel.” Parking is easy. We were greeted before we got to the door and were given seating options: outside “fend for yourself” or inside “be seated by staff”. We opted for the outdoor deck with its long tables and two heaters. We sat down and immediately had menus and a friendly server ask for our drink order. We took a look at the beer specials menu, each gave our usual beer names to the server and she translated them into a beer selection and was on her way.

Our beers arrived and were both cold and tasty. The Linden Street “house” beer shows a darker color than its taste belies. The Kolsch was a total girl beer and right up my alley- sweet and not too tangy or hoppy. This place would do well to have a taxi stand nearby with adult beverages this good! The mellow crowd on the deck was a mix of possible first dates, a business meeting, and friend groups. We had a nice view of some yachts and other boats along the water. There are showers in the restrooms in case you need to get your land legs washed!

Ooo, yay! It’s time to order food! The sausage list is expansive. Like the beer list, it is written out on a window and I chose the Bratwurst and my dining companion had the Wienerschnitzel. We continued to enjoy our bevvies and the view. We noticed food coming out of the kitchen in groups- not sure why. Nothing then everything- may have just been the rhythm of the evening. Our dishes were brought out at the end of a grouping that covered the majority of the deck.

The plate of schnitzel looked sizable but not huge. Brussel sprouts, halved and roasted joined the sides and contrasted the bright purple cabbage with the tan spaetzle in the middle. Snacking away on the applesauce and lemon topped pork, we didn’t know the star of the show was yet to come. The purple cabbage that comes with the schnitzel is a-freaking-mazing. Sweet and just a little tangy but not how you are expecting- it’ll say hello to you! The brat was good, I inhaled it. It came with fennel studded blond sauerkraut pickled onions and jalapeños that blasted our tongues with heat. We sorted out that the habanero sauce was actually not the culprit and that the jalapeño rounds could have stood some more pickling or some de-seeding. The onion rings we ordered were ok. one was not entirely fried on the bottom side but it saved me some calories! They were extra good with the habanero sauce!

We had no room for dessert and it took so long for our bill to come that we pondered ditching. We never would. Ever. But it took that long. Everything else had been so sharp and attentive that it was a surprise. I hate being held captive at a table, we looked ready to go and once we gave our card over it was quickly returned so it appears our message made it through. I’d like to try sitting inside as well as more sausages. Up next: The sausage plate, so I can try two meat treats and play roulette with the beer menu! Get on board at Brotzeit!

A16 Rockridge: Preview Dinner

My friend Matt is such a rock star. Not only did he just start his own business (shameless plug for Adeline Motors) but he could have taken any number of food loving friends to this bonanza… but lucky me! I got the chance to go with him.

His lovely lady is the General Manager of A16. Entering the lofty and skylit space, everyone was bubbly and congenial, introduced themselves and Generally Awesome Manager didn’t even seem that stressed! A sign of good things to come- or a calm before the storm?

Let’s get to the good stuff: dranks!

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The Catch-22, Plum Swizzle and the Negroni(not pictured) were all dangerously good. So good, in fact, that the bar ran out of Plum Swizzle makings! The Italian wines offered were chosen well and described eloquently- I took a mental daydream vacation to Italy while listening to the descriptions. Ahhh…

Next up: Foods!

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The Marin Miyagis were pretty briny(Hello, ocean! Not a bad thing, but not a neutral flavor), the Bacalao sublime, the Geoduck crudo was briny as well(Hi again, ocean!), and a trio of Chef’s offerings for the evening: morel bruschetta, mussels and garlic (Not as briny as its cousins up above, unsure of the prep as they were off the menu, dangit! Really fell in love with these) and finally- head cheese sliced thin(how can you go wrong with that plate??)
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We also ordered the Burrata with dragoncello. (GM taught me: Dragoncello is Italian for Tarragon. Such a fun word to say~!) Your face makes an “ah” happen twice just saying Burrata! This is a good thing.

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Crawfish, canellini beans, chili flakes and some bouncy cavatelli pasta curls: from the sea- but well grounded.

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Matt and his awesome lady used to live in Portland, where they saw some place used scissors to cut up pizza, and here we are with scissors for the fried pizza. Good idea- interactive food fun! The crust was a bit thicker than Matt had experienced in tastes past, but the smoked tomato sauce and bel fiore mozz kept us digging in for more bites.

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The potatoes pictured above spawned a new addiction for me. Holy: salt and vinegar chips in smashed fried potato form! You can almost count them as health food as they come along with fried garbonzos/ceccis/chick peas – get your legumes, right Mr. Pollan? Just kidding (but not about the addiction.)

At this part of the meal I feel just right, full but not too full, and I had forgotten about the next tier of yums coming our way… The rabbit! The rabbit served over toast slathered with liver, surrounded by leeks, olives, orange peel and cooked to the softest texture… Each bite like savory little bunny pillows in your mouth- the orange peel was distracting at first bite as it wasn’t listed on the menu. I was looking for grapes or some other “sweet” and then honed in on it with a bite or two more. It doesn’t look like much (until the iPhone merges with Canon my photos will never do food justice) but boy-howdy, that texture is golden.

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Everything has been so interesting (palate-wise or other) so I get introspective and I space out and check out the kitchen. The team are elbow deep in tickets and those ovens are both kickin. For first night madness, there were only a few appropriately stern words uttered on the line, which were heeded, and service sailed on. The staff seem to get along and respect one another which was a pleasure to see at an opening.

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Looking around at the other dishes, I snapped a pic of the fennel and salmon, thanks neighbors! I missed a photo of the asparagus over toasted bread with a gently handled poached egg and some wacky looking orange cheese zested over the top- next time I’ll be trying that one!

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Oh, my old nemesis: Dessert. I always want a hit of sweet, but fill up so wonderfully on dinner… Dammit- this is a preview dinner, and sacrifice I must:

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Gratinata with the best cherries I’ve had this season: huge and pitless. Summer lovin’!

The zeppoli were a sweet sweet surprise!

3 words: Fernet Branca Gelato. OK?

Then: the budino. Since my roommate a zillion years ago worked in this space when it was Garibaldis, at each incarnation there has been a budino on the menu. Sadly this one was cold-  I was hoping for a warm bowl brownie, soft in the center with cream thoughtfully dolloped for counterbalance. This was more cakey, the nib brittle was smoky, mellow and awesome and the ganache gave me enough rich tasty chocolate flavor to last the next couple months. Not a light dessert, but it will knock off the craving if you have one!

Thanks to Matt and his lovely lady for a sweet intro to this new Rockridge eatery.

Fellow Oaklavores: Andiamo- have a seat, eat and enjoy!!

Plum Bar: Opened Friday!

Plum Bar at Broadway and Grand Ave. is open starting Friday November 11! Check the twitter update for the menu- there will be much press, and many amazing drinks to be sure…

Broadway + Grand = Great Food!

Grub Street had a great article on the new Coi sibling in Downtown Oakland- offering lunch and dinner, right near the new Bakesale Betty! It will be an affordable, less complex menu – 16 offerings in 4 categories- local, organic produce served up for you, later on this Summer!

Oakland Coffee

We met a guy who works for Blue Bottle Coffee and he gave us a couple pounds to try as a favor-  thanks guy!!

I happily brought it home and tried it for a few days. As it was whole bean, I ground it up, but either I’m used to the turbo-jet-fuel of Cole Coffee, or I didn’t grind it fine enough- as it really didn’t  hit me with any great slap. The flavor was nice, but (horror of horrors, maybe my taste buds are dying off) it seemed, well, weak.

When I drink coffee, I like the experience to be somewhere between a warm hug and an ice bath for my nervous system. I only drink one cup a day usually- (well, a pint glass) so it’s gotta be quality.

Am I missing something here? Do I need to go down to Jack London and get a drip cup straight from the teat? I can’t believe there is all this hype around BB if my experience was typical. I want to like you Blue, I do!