Sunday, September 09, 2007


2221 Broadway St. (& West Grand)
(510) 451-4677

"Taproom" in Oakland (like real Oakland, not Berkeley-Oakland)

So this place is trying to be a neighborhood "brasserie," according to their website... which to me means upscale bar food. That's pretty much what it is, although Mike compared it to A Cote (does not even come CLOSE though). So the experience didn't start off very well, since despite the seemingly spacious area and lack of people there, we had to wait almost 20 minutes for a table when the host told us 10. He seemed nice, but while we were waiting at the bar, the bartender wasn't the most warm or friendly. Maybe it's just me, but it seemed like there was a trend with the female staff (i.e. bartender, waitresses) being cougar-ish and having plenty of attitude. Or maybe I'm just not used to the real Oakland (i.e. not right next to Berkeley, not Jack London's Square). Either way, I was kind of put off by the people there.

However, the food did come through. I'm surprised I've never heard of this place, but it was basically upscale bar food, which reminds me of that Top Chef episode. We had mussels in a cheesy chorizo-corn sauce - I've never seen mussels with that kind of sauce, but it was good. I was amazed by how plump the meat was that I took a very bad camera phone picture (left). We also had some Belgian cut fries with different dipping sauces (paprika ketchup, some kind of lime-herb aioli, and a chipotle aioli) which were ok. Another starter we shared was the seared gnocchi, which came with chanterelles and other butter-laden goodness. I thought this was the best dish of the evening, but I'm also a sucker for anything with chanterelles.

Part of the reason why we went was because I love mac n' cheese, and they have a pretty good one. A crunchy/breadcrumby top is always important to me, and Mike of course splurged and added the $2 bacon. With all that cheeseyness, bacon/fatty meat, butter, and beer (oh yeah, they have a pretty extensive beer/Belgian ale menu), I was about to pass out. But being the gluttons we are, we ordered dessert - an amaretto sabayon that came with some plums and sucky peaches. I can't really tell if they have a real pastry chef or not, because sabayon is something that takes a lot of effort to make (so much whisking!!), whereas the rest of the dessert menu was eh.

Overall, I thought this place had very satisfying food. They did have lighter dishes on the menu, but they were also a little more on the boring side. Although I was impressed with the food despite our mediocre service, I have to say that... I liked it because you cannot go wrong with bacon and cheese, you know what I mean? How can you make something with ingredients like that, and not have it taste good? I definitely enjoyed my meal, but aside from the gnocchi, everything was just overpriced bar food. Oh yeah, they have $1 oysters on Mondays. Sounds a bit sketch, but maybe they have high turnover and they aren't too bad?

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