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!!!

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Tribune Tavern Opens!

cocktail

Extra, Extra! Read all about it!

The Atmosphere: Gorgeous details like steam-punky chandeliers, sliding Scramsburg winery doors, pressed tin ceiling and wavy glass behind the bar made the space a fun one to look around and admire. The bar area was a bell ringer for loudness but once ensconced in the booths things quieted to a level where we could converse happily.

The Dranks: There are cocktails, plenty of beers, and non-boozy offerings- such as a refreshing lemongrass cooler: perfect a hot opening evening!

The Chomps:
   

The trotter and cheek fritters were nothing short of amazing, crispy on the outside and filled with piggy goodness. The favas didn’t seem to add or subtract to them, they were just sorta there, sprinkled about and the puree just didn’t seem to marry to the fritters.

The welsh rarebit was bowl moppingly good- beery and cheesy, crusty and crunchy.

fries    chicken

The guilty fries were *not* your standard soggy sloppy carb load. The fries beneath the cheesy beer and pulled pork were crisp,crunchy and soft in the middle. The crown of pork was a soft tuft – light pulled pork? How does it happen?

The chicken was well fried and extremely lightly battered, accompanied by soft, vinegar spiked mustard greens. These greens were so good, I have thought about them at least two times since consuming them. How were they cooked so perfectly?? Inquiring minds want to know!

ribs    lamb

For a flavor punch in your face: the short ribs. Served in a smallish looking bowl, these fake out the eater into thinking, “Hey, what is this?? I ordered a main course!”  They must have been slow cooked a long time, as the jus/demiglace/meat concentrated flavors had intensified to a fever pitch. The grits beneath and horseradish cream flowed together, forming another savory hit.

The lamb sausage, spinach and chick peas was infused with yummy Zatar-ish spices, adding a North African bent to the table.

With stuffed bellies we looked at the desserts and had to decline.  We chatted with the owner Chris who came around to say hi and welcome everyone. Planning to return, we wished him luck with the latest in the family of food venues he is parenting and planning. There are a few more in the works, too. With this guy and his amazing team of 200+ around,  Oakland is showing no signs of stopping the presses!!

The Price: $35 a head for a full belly and a drink!! Yes!

Next: I’ll be back with friends to do a potted meats only meal, and with more friends to hit the patio on a Saturday afternoon for the sausage platter and a pitcher or four!

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.

Box and Bells Oakland: The Preview Dinner

Ding Ding! Round One!!

Ding Ding! Round One!!

Lucky enough to secure tickets to this exercise in badassery, a friend and I attended the Box and Bells first preview dinner at Hawker Fare last night. After a welcome from chef James Syhabout, service started to flow. Attention head chef Benjamin Coe: Firing, plating and serving 45 simultaneous dinners is no small feat, so cheers(!) to him and his team. Servers were available here and there to ask for water, more rations or a refill on drinks. The lighting was low- apologies upfront for the crap photos. You’ll get the gist…

Let’s start going a little nuts:

Pepperoni Nuts

Pepperoni Nuts

A crunchy snack of “pepperoni” almonds and sunflower seeds- salty with a little heat.

Potted and Jarred Goods

Potted and Jarred Goods

There was homemade mustard on the table to start. It had a grated quality to it – horseradishy-even. Served with what looked like Texas toast (but was called out as the more elegant grilled pain de mie), these three jars contained: head cheese with green garlic and parsley relish, country style pork rillettes, and chicken liver mousse with apple pie aspic. Bonus points for getting to dessert in the appetizer course!! Alongside were on-trend pickled and fermented veg. (Food snoot alert: I now take these for granted – they are everywhere! Thank you though, for helping me get my healthy servings in!!)

Speaking of veg…

Salad of Gem Lettuces

Salad of Gem Lettuces

There was some kale leaf in here that gave me pause when looking at it and it added some diversity to the salad course. An herbed cultured cream, egg and paper thin radish rounded it out.

Enough healthy stuff… let’s get to the fried part:

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Boneless fried chicken – all of what you want with none of what you don’t.

The elevating moment:

Raw Oyster Mayo

Raw Oyster Mayonnaise

The raw oyster mayonnaise did the nuggets right. This is hard to explain, like eating a fried oyster po’boy with added crunch and chew from the chicken and no pesky bread to get in your way.

We were gearing up now, pacing ourselves. Ordering an ice cold Singha beer was a good move.

Poutine

Poutine

Hell yeah, poutine! It was “Made Our Way” with blood pudding gravy, cheese curds waiting in the depths and onions to finish. I think this disappeared in record time for the meal. Gone.

My photos of the Mussels Tikka Masala fell flat, so imagine them all huddled together in a thin white wine broth, crowned in cilantro- wish I’d had some of the toast to sop up that tikka masala- it just made sense.

In the theme of shellfish:

Roasted Scallops

Roasted Scallops

As I walked by the kitchen, the trays of scallops conveyed caramelization through scent. Set on a bed of meyer lemon spaetzle and hazlenuts, each were cooked perfectly. The “hen glace” was called out on the menu but married so well it helped add to the whole rather than shout out.

Meats

Meats

Admittedly in the introduction, Chef said it was a meat heavy menu, and he wasn’t kidding. Boudin blanc, sauerkraut and corned beef with parsley sauce put the nail in the mains section. The consistency of the sausage, soft and cooked white on the outer edges and faint rose in the center, was smooth. We were glad we kept the mustard from the potted meats course. The cabbage kept its crunch, and the acid helped- vinegar melted the chiffonade, slightly. The corned beef was a bit dry, and I’m sad I didn’t get more of the sauce to possibly combat that.

The side dishes missed their paparazzi moment. The baked beans were heavy on the molasses and were a nice departure from their overly sweet mainstream cousin. The “Rich Potato Puree” was all that and more- we dove in. Whipped butter with a potato afterglow. I want to swim in those. Really. The brussels sprouts in bone marrow with maple syrup and sherry had a stocky, warm coating and the fried up outer leaves benefitted from the sherry kick. With fullness setting in, we left some bits on our plates, but few.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Dessert showed up as a date cake with apple, vanilla chantilly and a toffee caramel pool so good, I went in for last licks. The dessert was not a chore, thanks to the lightness of the cake.

The chefs were walking around talking with patrons during service, and came out and thanked everyone. This is the food they, as chefs, want to eat after service- so we all got a peek between the late night shutters of a well fed kitchen. When asked about the name, they said there would be a boxing bell at the bar. They are thinking loud, lively eating house- take a box of bells, shake it up!

The timeline isn’t set yet, but this is their direction. A couple more dinners are in the works, so be on the lookout for announcements. This one sold out in five minutes: To the quick come the Box and Bells.

Yet another reason to look forward to Spring 2013 in Oakland!

Love in Oakland: Valentine’s Day 2013

Ah, love is in the air… and even if it isn’t, there are many comforting Oakland dining options to check out anyway! You may just meet someone asking about the specials… Prix-fixe and a la carte options abound Thursday night and all through the weekend. Holler if we are missing any festive offers!

BayWolf
3853 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611
They love love there at BayWolf and more than that they love food. Go celebrate hearts, food and wine with them for a delicious three-course meal for $68 per person.

Bellanico
4238 Park Blvd
Oakland, CA 94602

Offering a four course Prix Fixe menu for $65.00 per person with an optional wine pairing.

Bocanova
55 Webster Street
Oakland, CA 94607

Come enjoy the four course Valentine’s menu for two for $45 per person. They also have their regular a la carte menu available.

Camino
3917 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Camino. Romantic dinner for 2 or celebrate with ALL THE ONES YOU LOVE. $80 fixed menu. Optional wine pairing.

District
827 Washington St.
Oakland, CA, 94607
(510) 272-9110

On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, District in Oakland will be open from 4:00 PM to 2:00 AM serving the regular a la carte menu, plus $1.00 oysters all night (instead of just during happy hour), chocolate fondue for two (from the regular menu), and a special cocktail called the Dolce Valentine ($10) made with vodka & allspice, topped with sparkling wine, & garnished with a dried rose petal. There will also be live musical entertainment from Dirty Cello. Reservations accepted for groups of 6 or more.

Haven
44 Webster Street
Oakland, California 94607
(510) 663-4440

PRIX FIXE $75 PER PERSON | $65 PER PERSON VEGETARIAN OPTION | OPTIONAL $40 WINE PAIRING
Things that come in pairs and aphrodisiac:
CHICORIES – pear, avocado, cinnamon
ROUGET – parsnip, green garlic, roscoe’s potatoes
QUAIL – farro verde, trumpet mushrooms, mustards
CHOCOLATE CREMEUX – banana, almond

Hopscotch
1915 San Pablo Ave. @ 19th St.
Oakland, CA 94612

$45 Prix Fixe menu & regular menu available all week long. Now taking reservations!

Lake Chalet
1520 Lakeside Dr.
Oakland, CA, 94612
(510) 208-5253

On Valentine’s Day, Lake Chalet serves the regular lunch & dinner menus plus a la carte dinner specials including Season’s First Delta Asparagus with Prosciutto di Parma, crispy poached farm egg and white truffle oil; Spinach and Ricotta Agnolotti with prosciutto soffritto; “Heart” Beets with Bellwether Farms ricotta, shaved radishes, and balsamico; Grilled Filet Mignon with bone marrow crust, glazed early spring vegetables and red wine sauce; and Chocolate Budino with espresso whipped cream.

Kincaid’s Bayhouse
1 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94607

Celebrate Valentine’s Day All Weekend Long – Thursday Feb 14th through Sunday Feb 17th – with a romantic lunch or dinner.

Mezze
3407 Lakeshore Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610

5-course Prix Fixe Dinner with Bubbly Toast. $70 p/p for reservations before 6:30 pm. $80 p/p for reservations after 6:30 pm.

Oliveto
5655 College Ave.
Oakland, CA 94618
(510)547-5356

$95 6 course prix fixe + tax and 18% service charge ~ wine pairings will be available ~ corkage $25

Plum
2214 Broadway Street
Oakland, CA 94612

Please join us for a very special price fixe Valentine’s Day Menu at Plum.
Four Courses with options for $70 per person.

Scott’s Seafood
2 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94607

Celebrate Valentine’s Day, and through the weekend, at Scott’s with a delicious 3-course Steak & Lobster entree served with a glass of sparkling wine for $75 per person.

Z Cafe and Bar
2735 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612

“MADE WITH LOVE” Dinner: $40/person. Starter: Dungeness Crab + glass of champagne. Entree Choice: Dry Aged Rib Eye, Chicken Piccata, Champagne Risotto. Dessert: Blackberry Sorbet

Chabot Space & Science Center
ASNT-Golden Gate Section Sweetheart’s Dinner

Friday, February 15, 2013 at 6:00 PM
This is a Public ASNT-GGS Event. Members, Spouses, and our Friends will enjoy an evening of Romance, Astrology, and NDT. The evening will begin with a private catered dinner in the Galileo room at the Chabot Space Center. Then continue about the facility to night school. And then walk about the observatory and take a look at the stars.

Rockridge Enoteca on the Horizon!

Nighttime marketing at Enoteca Molinari


The benches and tables are in, but when will the doors open? Inquiring Minds want to know!

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!