Sunday, November 7, 2010


If you ask my daughter what my favorite food is, she is likely to answer: Stone Fruit! Exclamation necessary because at 8 the right answer is exciting. So how could I not be excited about trying Daniel Patterson's newish Oakland restaurant, Plum? Great name, talented chef, appealing menu at a lower price point than Coi, I was happy to make a reservation at Lisa's suggestion.

Arriving early on a Friday night, fears of rioting quieted by the calm outside, we were given seats at the chef's counter, featuring the heaviest bar stools I have ever encountered. For those who prefer more traditional table seating, that is available, but I will always choose the opportunity to watch the food or bar prep when it is an option. Indeed, watching the plates come out of the kitchen helped to inspire our dinner choices. Bonus point, by the way, not just for providing filtered sparkling water, but for leaving a carafe that we could have used to refill our glasses ourselves had the servers not been so on top of things. Service was excellent all night, including a waiter who not only made excellent suggestions, but offered to pair half glasses of wine to each of our courses.

But what did we eat and drink?

While waiting for our choices to arrive we snacked on complimentary rather addictive Heirloom popcorn with escabeche powder and Potato Chicarrones which were much more about texture than flavor. I found myself wishing for a sauce to dip them in or wanting some to take home for my next cocktail night.

Our appetizers were the Chickpea Fritters, essentially the best falafel one could imagine rather than the creamy panisse frites served at Frances. After watching the chef at work plating the Artichoke Terrine with Andante dairy fresh cheese, chervil, black olive tapenade, we had to order it. That was a wise choice as the barely held together terrine was perfectly complimented by the saltiness of the olives and creaminess of the piped on soft cheese.

We were also treated to the Young Carrots, which were provided to tide us over while waiting for our next course. Sweet and fresh.
Next up were the Potatoes with chanterelles, staffan's lardo, shallots and wild arugula, one of the evening's highlights. Creamy, salty with arugula for a bit of bite.

Next up were our mains: the very rich and decadent Beef cheek and oxtail burger and a truly wonderful sous vide and the grilled Pork with squash puree.

To finish we opted for the much praised Roasted White chocolate parfait, huckleberry, tarragon and the
hard to resist Burnt cinnamon ice cream. Both were excellent.

For wine we had: 
1/2 glass Domaine du Closel "La Jalousie" Savennieres
1/2 Selbach Oster riesling
1/2 Vissoux 09 Beaujolais
1/2 01 Baronia Rioja

The highlights for me were the potatoes, pork, and burger. But there were no real misses. The wine pairings worked. Service was attentive but not intrusive. And although it was not an inexpensive meal, I felt the price to value ratio was in my favor.

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