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The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013

theberkeleyoaklandbook.com 59 the other hand, sported a sauce that we thought overpowered the flavor of the shellfish. Frisée, grapefruit, and radish salad said fresh flavor times 10, and its mango vinaigrette also upped the ante. A chocolate bread pudding with a cinnamon-spiked chocolate ice cream equaled loveliness in a hot ramekin. Lunch and dinner daily. 2345$$$ Boot and Shoe Service 3308 Grand Ave., 763-2668, bootand shoeservice.com. Like the mother ship that launched it, this Pizzaiolo satellite’s cuisine retains its earthy bearing. Simple blistered pizzas share space on the menu with an ever-changing list of restrained starters, ranging from little-gem Caesar laced with anchovies to sweet rockfish netted in crisp batter. The setting complements the rustic cooking. A wood fire glows from an open kitchen, whose counters are piled high with whatever seasonal bounty is being used that night. Those chicories you see will soon be roasted and tossed atop a pizza with Gorgonzola and butternut squash. Those sunchokes will join chanterelles in a hearty, chervil-garnished ragu. Though reservations aren’t taken and waits are common, the staff is friendly, and lively cocktails tide you over in the bar. Dessert brings a short list of familiar, homey dishes, which, like the restaurant, could fairly be described as out of this world. Lunch Tues.–Fri., dinner Tues.–Sun., brunch Sat.–Sun. 2$$ Brown Sugar Kitchen 2534 Mandela Pkwy., 839-7685, brown sugarkitchen.com. Tanya Holland, Food Network chef and author of New Soul Cooking, is the driving force behind this gourmet diner in industrial West Oakland. Her cooking is worth the trek. At breakfast, you must have the cornmeal waffle, an extraordinary version of the classic that’s all crispness and air, without a hint of soggy batter. It’s paired with lightly spiced, juicy fried chicken. Grits with cheese are cooked to perfection, as are the poached eggs that come alongside. At lunch, Creole shrimp and pineapple glazed baby back ribs pack plenty of flavor. The atmosphere is urban hip, service is attentive, and Holland incorporates lots of fresh organic produce into her cooking. Breakfast and lunch Tues.–Sun. 1$$ Burma Superstar 4721 Telegraph, 652-2900, burma superstar.com. Superstar became a hipster foodie favorite in San Francisco with its authentic Burmese flavors. At the restaurant’s popular new location in Oakland’s Temescal district, salads provide a perfect intro to the cuisine. The tea leaf salad is deservedly famous, but we loved the refreshing rainbow salad, combining 22 ingredients into a sour, spicy, garlicky, and ultimately delicious creation. The lettuce cups starter, filled with cured pork, pickled radish, carrots, and water chestnuts, was solid while the crispy fried morsels in the salt-and-pepper chicken were heaven dipped in a mouth-puckering sour-and-spicy fish sauce. The Burmese-style lamb curry offered lean, tender lamb, with a smooth, thin sauce but little heat. No such problem with the wok-tossed superstar shrimp, with its slow, lingering spice, garlic, and tangy cured onions. Aromatic coconut rice is an absolute must. Lunch and dinner daily. 1$$ Camino 3917 Grand Ave., 547-5035, caminorestaurant.com. An open flame, local ingredients, and an uncluttered seasonal menu constitute the experience at Camino, opened by chef Russell Moore, formerly of Chez Panisse. The space is large and airy, with lots of wood and brick. Camino’s menu is short, generally listing just a handful of first courses, seconds, sides, and desserts. Some are predictable, like chicken that’s available almost every night, roasted or grilled, but what comes with it varies, whether wild nettles and fresh shell beans, or polenta and roasted vegetables. There are also surprises like slow-cooked greens, lentil salad, or fresh whole milk ricotta under a bed of vegetables. Don’t miss cocktails made with inventive spirits mixed with tea, fruit syrups, herbs, or bitters. Some desserts are warm and buttery, some are crispy and sweet—and don’t miss the granita if it’s on the menu. Servers are genuine and friendly. Dinner Wed.–Mon, brunch Sat.–Sun. 2$$$ Commis 3859 Piedmont Ave., 653-3902, commisrestaurant. com. Many of the creative dishes developed by James Syhabout and served at Commis will rock your world, and you’re not alone—the Manresa alum has been awarded the East Bay’s only Michelin star two years running. The squash potage says farm to table—with a long, careful stop in the kitchen— and a visit from some fresh-outof the-drink bay shrimp. The ling cod also popped out of the deep blue that minute, before being cooked to crisp perfection, and its mussel liquor with vermouth was downright sexy. A soft farm egg with crisp pork jowl will ruin you for anything less fresh, flavorful, or deliciously fatty, although an accompanying smear of fermented black garlic didn’t appeal to us. Soft, warm rolls were a perfect vehicle for the to-die-for housemade butter. Commis’ menu is prix fixe—$75 for three courses, plus $45 for paired wines—and the servers are quiet and respectful, like docents in a museum. On our visit, the desserts were challenging: a melon soup that could have been simpler and more fruity, and a black sesame cake. Dinner Wed.–Sun. 14$$$$ Doña Tomás 5004 Telegraph Ave., 450-0522, donatomas. com. Oakland’s Doña Tomás is the antidote to Taco Bell: Mexican slow food, made painstakingly by hand, using only seasonal, sustainably grown or raised ingredients, including Niman Ranch meat and Hoffman Farm poultry. Co-owners Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky opened their bright, airy Oaxacan-style eatery in 1999 to great acclaim, and they’re still doing things right. The seedy Temescal


The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013
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