Page 62

The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013

block the restaurant is located on has grown up around them and is home to a flock of great eateries. No burritos on the menu here. The frequently changing roster of dishes includes a variety of moles; quesadillas oozing fillings as varied as earthy cuitlacoche (a corn fungus) or queso Oaxaca, onion, and epazote; wonderful, housemade corn tortillas and salsas; and outstanding margaritas. The carnitas can be uneven—a little too dry at times—but when they’re good, they’re very, very good. Service is efficient and friendly, the atmosphere convivial, the bar lively. And dining alfresco in the courtyard (there are heat lamps) is an all-toorare treat for East Bay residents this side of the tunnel. Dinner Tues.–Sat., brunch Sat.–Sun. 234$$ Dopo 4293 Piedmont Ave., 652-3676, dopoadesso.com. When a couple of former Oliveto cooks opened Dopo as a tiny pizza place in 2003, it was constantly thronged. It still is, even though it has since taken over the red brick space next door. The menu now includes several appetizers and pasta dishes, in addition to the wonderful thincrust pizzas. Our visit included a plate of musky house-made salumi, crispy panfried sand dabs served with wild mushrooms and perfectly executed white wine sauce, and elegant Neapolitan-style lasagna. Don’t overlook calzones here. Few places still make this dish, and none as well as Dopo, which delivered ours with a golden crust and an addictive filling of cheese with Speck, garlic, and chilies. The wine list, printed on a map of Italy, is full of delights. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Mon.–Sat. 135$$ 60 theberkeleyoaklandbook.com absinthe, then planted with a spot of preserved lemon and absinthesoaked fennel that blend seamlessly once the velvety soup is poured on top. Alcohol is not missed in the bavette steak entrée, where tender medallions of béarnaise-draped beef dusted with thin slivers of crisp sunchoke (and a few strips of shaved beef heart) are brilliantly paired with roasted artichokes and quince fries. The kick comes back for dessert, with a bourbon pecan pie with salted caramel and smoked vanilla ice cream. Incredible. Dinner daily. 235 $$$ Hawker Fare 2300 Webster St., 832-8896, hawkerfare.com. James Syhabout’s second Oakland restaurant is held to a high standard because his first, Commis, won a Michelin star. But Hawker Fare is Southeast Asian street food, and its low prices and graffiti-splashed atmosphere are more about grabbing a couple fave foods. Strangely enough, the “blistered” green beans were our favorite. Even a vegetable hater would eat these like a sweet and spicy snack, and the bacon in them provokes full-on addiction. Also great were the beautifully tender mussels in a subtle coconut broth. Rice bowls star here, but the lemongrass chicken was a bit bland, the short ribs tough, and the rice clumpy. The Kung Fu Girl Riesling’s got just the slightly sweet, long-finishing flavor profile for the food. Don’t leave without trying the Straus soft-serve sundae, with salted palm sugar caramel. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Tues.–Sat. 15$ Flora 1900 Telegraph Ave., 286-0100, floraoakland.com. Flora, located in a 1920s building in Oakland’s Uptown district, exudes a retro cool—an art deco bar outfitted with swivel chairs wraps around the kitchen. Cocktails are precisely prepared throwbacks such as the wonderfully tart, absinthe-kissed Corpse Reviver # 2. Meanwhile, the food has stepped up its game as the restaurant has aged, making it an ideal stop before a show at the nearby Fox and Paramount theaters. Caramelized shallots and black truffle vinaigrette lend deep flavor to a little gem lettuce salad. A delectable Piedmontese New York strip steak with herbed butter and hickory smoked salt managed to live up to its eyebrow-raising price. Service is a dream. Lunch Fri., dinner daily; brunch Sat.–Sun. 25$$$ Haven 44 Webster St., 663-4440, havenoakland.com. Overlooking the waterfront at Jack London Square, Daniel Patterson’s newest restaurant, Haven, serves bold California cuisine in a sleek, modern atmosphere. Executive chef Kim Alter likes to add dashes of liquor to her dishes that leave the taste buds buzzing. Fennel soup is served table side in a bowl first bathed in Hopscotch 1915 San Pablo Ave., 788-6217, hopscotchoakland.com. This little addition to the Uptown dining scene seasons its foodie sensibilities with a liberal helping of playfulness—to dazzling results. Chef-owner Kyle Itani experiments freely with the textures and tastes of his hearty diner fare, made more compelling by frequent Japanese-inspired twists. (He worked at Yoshi’s.) Start with an ever-evolving little gem salad spiked with fun seasonal touches (tarragon croutons and plucky sea beans, a type of succulent, on our visit). Seafood lovers will dig the oysters—served raw with sea urchin, salmon roe, and citrus soy— and don’t miss the beer-steamed clams in a deliciously rich broth made meaty by the addition of fallapart tender lamb. The first base burger (topped with griddled beef tongue) was a little intense for our taste, but certainly kept our attention. And we had zero complaints with the sweet, miso-glazed sea bass perfectly balanced by bright sautéed pea shoots and savory salt cod–stuffed squash blossoms. Cocktails are a must-try, too. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun., brunch Sat.–Sun.. 2354$$ dining listings »


The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013
To see the actual publication please follow the link above