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First Bite: Duchess Debuts in Rockridge

Enjoy elevated comfort food at this distinctly stylish yet casual restaurant.


Published:

Alejandra Saragoza

Tiny house-baked buns hold huge pieces of fried chicken; a warm donut is filled with chicken liver mousse and served with a huckleberry compote; crispy fries are loaded with Dungeness crab; and a beautifully aged rib-eye steak is brilliantly garnished with coins of crunchy Persian cucumber.

This is Duchess, a distinctively stylish but totally relaxed Rockridge restaurant that opened earlier this month. The cozy eatery is decked out with intimate booths and handcrafted walnut chairs—tiny but as weighty as thrones—and outfitted in subdued purples, creamy yellows, and splashes of coral red. A second level is opening soon.

Duchess serves food all day, offering house-baked pastries in the morning and 55-hour pastrami sandwiches at lunch. At dinner, don’t miss the spicy vegetarian curry with spiced flatbread. Select international wines, specialty cocktails, and lots of local craft beers can be paired with the elevated pub fare, making Duchess a real neighborhood gem worth seeking out—even from afar.


5422 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 871-3463, duchessoakland.com. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Tues.–Sun.