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B in Oakland

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Yesterday three of us had lunch at B. Our first time there. We forgot the streets around it are closed on Fridays because of the Farmer's Market. That made parking an adventure. But it was worth the trouble.

We are every server's nightmare: Ladies who lunch. We ladies had not visited for several weeks, we had come to settle in. ( for those that worry about the servers, we are big time tippers. we know we take a table too long )

We ordered the chicken salad with a side of fries, a steak ( think it was a skirt steak) with fries, and I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with spicy cole slaw. The steak came, and the chicken salad arrived. They looked perfect and tasted great.

Then my sandwich was placed in front of me. It looks fabulous, except it was sliced pork not pulled. This is not even close to what I ordered. I asked the server to replace it with pulled pork. She came back, and said the chef said it was the same meat. They just slice it and don't pull it. I said if the menu says pulled they have to pull it. I then ordered the chicken salad and fries. All of this was very civil. And my food arrived quickly. And it was very good. We later shared a chocolate dessert that had peaches and Thai chilis. Great.

The main point of this is the food is very good and service was great. Glasses were refilled constantly, never empty, dishes explained ( should of asked about the pork) .The servers never rushed us, they were friendly, but not our new best friend. We had a lovely long lunch in a place we will now go to for dinner.

And for those that worry about the servers, 25% tip.

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    B Restaurant & Bar
    499 9th St, Oakland, CA 94607

    1. Thanks for the report. I tend to forget about B, but it's really quite ... serviceable, by which I mean that it's not a destination, but you can have a good meal there. I've had good service there as well, and that's always a plus.

      1. We had a great light dinner there last night. Walked in on impulse around 9 and were seated immediately. Not too crowded, not too noisy.

        Pork belly and gnocchi appetizer, sausage pizza with egg, dandelion greens with chile flakes, sugar snap peas, all delicious (and I usually think sugar snap peas taste like sweetened lawn clippings).

        The house cocktails list included "7 Leguas tequila blanca with house sangrita" which I had to try as that's the most sophisticated tequila presentation I've ever seen. Tequila great as expected and the sangrita was extraordinary. It's the same stuff they use in their Dr. Bloody Mary, which is made with jabanero-infused vodka, I'll have to try that.

        Service was a surprise: first-rate, professional, attentive, friendly, but not intrusive. Reminded me of Wood Tavern.

        Total tab with a small plate of Acme baguette ($3) to sop up the pork juices, two Racer 5's, and a glass of A Donkey and Goat Three Thirteen came to $80.

        They're doing a $20 prix-fixe "Sunday Supper": http://www.boakland.com/downloads/sun...

        4 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Could you expand on the pizza? I seem to recall reading that they have a wood-burning oven.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            They do, that's been there since Oaktown or whatever the name was when they first built out the space. Not super-thin or super-crisp, lots of cheese and sausage.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              We love the sausage they use on their sausage pizza and in the mussels appetizer. They tend to overcook their mussels, so we always ask them to pull our dish a bit early, but that sausage with the mussels is fabulous! The pizzas aren't nearly as good as Pizziaolo, but they're also a bit cheaper. Also highly recommend their truffle fries.

              They offer special happy hour pricing during the week where many of their appetizers are a few dollars cheaper than on their regular menu. They also offer $1 oysters during happy hour. Our favorite server there is Leonard who always makes our night.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            To me, the best thing about B is its Happy Hour: $1 oysters (usually two to choose from) and its individual-sized pizzas (usually two to choose from). Unfortunately, the prices of wines by the glass are not "happy."

            It's a great place to stop in if you work in DT Oakland or a good destination if you don't; and the parking lot next door is free after 6PM.

          3. We've had great meals there. Recently we went just for dessert after a great lunch at Tamarindo. We sat at the bar and the bartender was extremely helpful. I got the pound cake with oranges and she suggested a great agricole rhum that perfectly complemented it. It was a lovely experience.

            1. Had dinner at B last night. New chef, some of the dishes are a bit more creative and elaborate, but no big change in style. Lower prices on the wine list: they have 25 wines all priced at $35, half of them available by the glass for $8. Happy hour 4:30-6:30 Tuesday-Friday.

              Brussel sprouts with bacon, roasted mushrooms, capers, and Meyer lemon ($9), very nice. Generous serving.

              Warm braised leeks with roasted chanterelles, parmesan, truffle oil, and crispy leeks ($12), really great. The white parts of the leeks were braised and creamy, while some of the stalks were somehow turned into crunchy sticks similar to shoestring potatoes.

              Crispy veal sweetbreads & shrimp with Castelvetrano olives, tomatoes, and Meyer lemon pan jus ($16), tasty though the sauteed shrimp and fried sweetbreads, while cooked perfectly, didn't particularly go together.

              Oven smoked pork belly pizza with parmesan, mozzarella, red onions, parsley, egg, and frisee ($16), I'm a sucker for bacon and egg pizza. I'll add a second egg ($2) next time.

              Grilled flat-iron steak with horseradish-thyme pomme puree, green beans, and shallot-chive butter ($24), hit the spot.

              Polished service as usual. This is one of those places where every time I eat there I think, why don't I come here more often?


              5 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I went in for pizza recently but decided to get risotto. The wait was too long and the dish was just OK but I was comped desert.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  A friend called and wanted to take me to dinner tonight, and after some discussion about where we could get a last minute prime-time (i.e. not 5:30 or 9:00) same-day reservation on a Saturday, we ended up at B.

                  We ordered several of the same dishes Robert did (the brussel sprouts, which are indeed a very generous portion obviously meant to be shared, the sweetbreads and the pork belly pizza). In addition we ordered the truffle fries and the lamb sugo over some fresh tubular pasta. Truffle fries were yummy -- at first I eschewed the ketchup on the side, but when I finally tried it, it seemed to actually enhance the truffle flavor of the fries. The sweetbreads were tasty but I thought the breading on the sweetbreads was a little heavy and doughy. The lamb sugo was delicious very meaty and distinctly lamby (which I like). I also thought the pizza was delicious, but unlike Robert, I could have done without the egg. Robert described the pizza crust above as "not super thin" -- maybe that's changed under the new chef. because this certainly was super thin -- in a few places literllay paper thin. It definitely wasn't crisp, though: it was nicely charred but still tender and foldable.

                  Service was friendly and efficient. It was really loud, though, and got even louder (although pleasantly so) when a jazz trio set up around 8 o'clock.

                  Bill for five dishes (plenty of food, especially since everything we ordered was on the rich side) and a cocktail was $75 after tax but before tip. Not bad for a nice dinner with live music on a Saturday night.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Always loved B: the food, the friendly staff, the big, airy room, the large windows letting in the sunshine - been there umpteen times & enjoyed every single visit :-)

                    Photos from my last visit:

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Ruth, was that $75 with wine as well, or just with cocktails? I'm looking for a local place to take my sister for dinner in the next couple of weeks. Not that I'm cheap or anything..... ;+)

                      1. re: oakjoan

                        Just one cocktail. It was a lot of food, though. We could have done with one less dish.

                  2. The owners of B complained in the Chronical that their business was off due to Occupy Oakland. Baloney! Business is bad because their food, which once was quite good is now horrible. Lunch several weeks ago was slices of pizza or one pasta dish. The place was grungy and the line long. There were only two young women taking care of the whole restaurant. Neither knew anything about the wine. I had the pasta, a bowl of noodles topped with a handful of raw vegetables supposedly "primavera". Let's not blame anyone but yourselves for this train wreck.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Nojones

                      I agree. I work in Oakland a few days a week and B used to be so reliable: good food, good wine, good service. What happened? They were closed for lunch (when I usually would eat there) for a while. When they started serving lunch again it was as if it had become a completely different restaurant. Really disappointing.

                      1. re: Leely2


                        This is not just a problem at B's. It's becoming a Bay Area epidemic, and it's the result of the "Great Recession." Almost all restaurants that used to offer lunch either no longer do so or have decided to provide only a "bare bones" menu. and/or reduce the number of days they offer lunch. In the East Bay, Corso quit offering lunch, period; Nizza La Bella dropped its lunch service and then many months later, tried reviving it with an interesting menu and really good prices. That noble try didn't work and they cut back to weekend and, I think, Friday lunches. Venezia did essentially the same thing. Last week, on my birthday, my wife and I had lunch at Olivetto upstairs. The service was good, but the food was only OK, and the size of the menu (number of choices) was severely restricted and the few choices on the menu were boringly simple, used inexpensive (cheap) ingredients, and could have been prepared either in advance or quickly, and 3/4 of the tables were empty. Only the K2 Group seems to be making an all out effort to preserve lunch and increase their seatings by offering creative specials and advertising them and not dumbing down or significantly cheapening their food dishes.

                        Nojones, Why in the world would B lie about the effects of Occupy Oakland on their business?They obviously have real data; you have one anecdote. And don't forget that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." My wife works 1.5 blocks from the "encampment" and she can provide lots of anecdotal data on the effects of Occupy Oakland on nearby businesses.

                        As WJC famously said, "It's the economy, stupid." And Occupy Oakland is just a small additional temporary zit on the pimpled face of Oakland's present economic situation.

                        Nizza La Bella
                        827 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                      2. re: Nojones

                        been to b probably a year ago. the pizza was average. compares poorly to the brick oven alternatives out there.
                        business in this part of town has been down before occupy oakland begun. jesso's, kitty corner, closed over a year ago. levende east, across the street, closed month or 2 ago. kai's, a block down, hasn't been opened evenings for how long?
                        most likely patrons have found better fare uptown at rudy's can't fail, plum, mua, westing, era,
                        pican, ozumo, hawker's fare, etc.

                        1. re: shanghaikid

                          I have a feeling that the Trappist is still packed?

                          As a homage to Yogi Berra:
                          I would actually go to the Trappist more if there were less customers.

                          1. re: Mission

                            I haven't gone into the Trappist without finding a seat since they added the patio.

                            1. re: Mission

                              i seldom go to trappist these days. last time i went, they had added a room so it wasn't packed. beer selection here is limited. prefer beer revolution a few blocks over.

                              beer revolution can ssem packed cuz there's a scarcity of seats. draft beer selection is awesome.

                              1. re: shanghaikid

                                The Trappist's selection is limited to a paltry 25 taps and 100-130 bottles.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  if trappist opened within the window frame of luka's rise to fame i would appreciate trappist more. i lost affinity for belgian beers before trappist opened so i was never drawn there.

                        2. Free lunch today for veterans who like B's Facebook post announcing that.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Kind of too bad they have to get something out of it. The only veteran I know around here is quasi-homeless, doesn't have a computer, and definitely isn't on Facebook. I bet he'd like a free lunch, though.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              walked by B post 1ish today, veteran's day. just 3ish tables fwiw.

                            2. We had a delicious meal at B this week. There is a delicata squash dish on the menu that I will dream about. Balsamic reduction, tiny buttery croutons, perfectly cooked squash rings, crispy fried herbs (sage?). Dad had the burger and loved it for the second time (the folks visit from out of town). I had the sole with caper berries and a killer beurre blanc. People were sopping it up with their bread.. I also love anything served with their little brioche toasts. This week it was pate.

                              1. New happy hour deal, all Oakland wines and spirits $5.10 from 5:10 to 6:10 daily (they're open Tuesday through Saturday).