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Jul 26, 2008 10:50 AM

B in Oakland

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":

        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.