Dinner Down at The Forge

This dinner was so overdue… A while back when they had first opened, I had a quick chat with the “Pizza Hacker” about domain names and such, but hadn’t made it over for a full meal. It’s been months! So inspiration struck- and I’m glad it did. The Jack London promenade on a sunny Summer evening is a beautiful place. The fog hadn’t rolled in and there was no chill to the air! In case it gets there (and it usually does), there are cocktails, fire pits and a wine list ready to warm you and yours.

We ordered a beer and a bottle of wine to split, and perused the menu. We settled on fried cheese curds, smoked chicken wings and two pizzas: a margherita with arugula and a farm egg, and a mushroom pizza that had sausage as a welcome addition.

 curds                  wings

The crispy cheese curds were all we wanted them to be – light then chewy but not heavy in the least. We tried the marinara and also the blue cheese sauce from the wings for a full cheese-on-cheese experience. Like tissue paper on a campfire, they were gone instantly. The smoked wings were a less messy departure from “wings” in general. The smokiness of the meat was there but not blowing out any taste buds and the fat had been rendered out well to keep the grease factor down. These may be the perfect wings!

The pizzas were lovely- so thin, so thin. A friend and I just debated about how thin crust pizzas get soggy and my take on that was that it is physically impossible for the crust to stay crisp, given the sauce and ingredients… So if you want to complain about “soggy” pizza, don’t order thin crust! My crust edges were dipped into the Forge’s dilly version of ranch for a decadent end to the feast.

Service was quick, and they let us linger over our wine after the bill had come. They were doing a great business that evening, and it should continue.

pizza2

Three of us got out of there stuffed and with a decent buzz for $35 plus tip!! Dinner was economical and totally worthwhile. Oaklavores, go have a seat and watch the world pass by. It’s like a weeknight summer stay-cation…

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Hop over to Hopscotch!

hopscotch

Good things come in small packages, so too is the case at Hopscotch.

A friend and I have been dying to get over to Hopscotch, and finally made it on a drizzly evening. We were welcomed into the small space by friendly front of house staff, a theme which continued all night.  The genuinely sweet waitstaff did not rush us as we took our time- we had an intense chat going and took a moment to look over the offerings.

An amuse appeared in the form of raw scallop with pickled radish, seaweed, flaked salt and perhaps saffron threads? The spoon was fishy, and neither of us liked it. I love a good crudo, and a scallop’s sweetness can really shine if they are fresh. This treatment did not honor the scallop, and we moved on. Like when you take that first hop in hopscotch and wobble- this was our quick start.

The chili paste long beans with spot prawns were a solid effort. Thin beans were cooked thoroughly cut to “date food size” and coated in a combo of shrimp and chili pastes. A good volume of heat, but not a long after burn. Four bites of white spot prawn swam through the red and dark green beans.

My friend had the fried chicken which was just as crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside as you ever would want. It was boneless: always appreciated, and served with a chrysanthemum slaw. She joined the clean plate club- oh we both did.

The gingered duck gnocchi were calling my name. Served atop brown butter creme fraiche and a sweet potato puree then sprinkled with scallion slivers, the soft nuggets were pan seared at some point to each have a crunchy edge. Duck shreds were hidden between the gnocchi to marry the dish with ginger.

The frozen lemon bar was a refreshing light end to the meal. A frozen custard on top of shortbread served with a light lavender creme fraiche brought smiles to our faces- remembering that flavor from times in our pasts.

If you are looking for a quiet evening, this may not be a great choice when there are louder parties sharing the space. There was not much sound absorption in the room, and this is a rare comment because we are generally the ones getting shushed! A wine list on the chalkboard provides options of both white and red- the waitress we had was helpful with her descriptions. The cocktails looked very inviting – we plan to return and try other dishes and wrote off the amuse as a minor loss of balance in the game.

Notable Notes on Oaklavore Openings!

Holy opening of doors, Oaklavores~!
In the the last 24 hours the lines have caught fire with news of restaurants opening in Oakland!!
Check em out!!

Disco Volante Fever
Thanks to Lady Tablehopper Marcia G. we got filled in on the newest Uptown joint to rock Oakland, Late night Oaklavores look out!!
The restaurant will feature live music, and will serve until midnight. The kitchen is headed by Douglas Bernstein (formerly of Eccolo, Bacar, and Farallon)- Look for local, seasonal, sustainable cuisine grounded in French technique, with nothing over $20, and the wine list is by consulting sommelier Stephen Lebord. Expect lunch Mon-Fri, and dinner daily until 1am weekdays and 2am on weekends.
347 14th St. at Webster.

Cuba Libre!
Caña has just posted a storefront sign over the entrances to their combined cabaret/Cuban restaurant 3 doors down from the old Kwik Way by the Lake. Expect sidewalk seating for eating and dancing under the stars and sun! Speaking of the Kwik Way…

Kwik Way a la Retro
Gary Rizzo (of Somerset on College) plans to install a retro burger stand where the Kwik Way stood, albeit with two important distinctions to appease the neighborhood: there will be outdoor seating and there will not be a drive-through. Redecorating continue- more news to come!

From L’amyx to LinJia…
Marcia Lam plans to re-open L’amyx tea bar as a family restaurant to be called Lin Jia Asian Kitchen. Fun video on how to say it here.
3437 Lakeshore Ave.

More Artisan Burgers!
An artisan Burger joint allegedly named “The Flip Side” is going into the former Adam’s Burger space, with plans to include outdoor seating out front! It’s a big remodel, so expect the opening in some time…
3401 Lakeshore Ave.

Whew, I’m excited about all the outdoor planning!! In the meantime, please support your local businesses- Merritt Bakery is back!! Please do go by and welcome back to the old institution and its loyal employees!!
Happy Eating!