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Chop Bar in Oakland: recommendations?

After daveena mentioned in another discussion that the newly opened Chop Bar has some of the best sandwiches she's ever tasted (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6613... ), I thought I'd start a new thread for people who have eaten here to share what they've tried and liked. I haven't been yet, but their roasted pig on flatbread, with a kick-ass condiment spread, was the best thing I tried at the recent Eat Real Festival (though this is not on their regular menu, apparently). I'm thinking about checking it out for dinner tonight, so I'm wondering if there's anything really excellent on the current menu that I should be sure to order.

The sandwiches on the lunch menu sound great. Any thoughts? Anyone tried the brunch?

The dinner menu also looks very appealing to me, but, as daveena said, it's a little bit all over the place.

http://chopbar510.blogspot.com/2009/0...

Has anyone been for dinner? The different sections of the menu are slightly confusing. There are "snacks," which seem to be a variety of little appetizers and salad-type things. The bacon, garlic and parmesan popcorn ($3) jumps out at me as something that could be really amazing or really terrible. Sounds like a tasty bar snack to me, though.

Then there are "tablas," which seem to be larger appetizer plates for sharing--a charcuterie, their take on a seafood platter (with shrimp ceviche, tuna tartare, and gravlax), etc.

And then, there's a section of "cazuelas," which when I looked it up on Wikipedia is a kind of soup, but on this menu, they seem to be more small plates and side dishes? Prices range from $5 to $9. The Louisiana Shrimp ala Diabla ($8) sounds good--I wonder if this is more akin to the spicy shrimp at Fonda or the BBQ shrimp at Angeline's (both of which I love).

Finally there are four options for a main course, ranging in price from $12 to $15 (very reasonable!), all of which sound quite good. What have people tried and like/disliked? The gnocchi? The chicken and dumplings?

Sounds like ordering a few small plates and one main course to share might be a good way to go for two diners. Thoughts on portion sizes?

How about the wine on tap? Very intriguing idea to me, so I'm curious what people's impressions are.

If someone else knows how, or has the appropriate access, to create a new Restaurant listing for this, that'd be great. For now, I'll just list the address/website.

Chop Bar
247 4th St., #111, Oakland, CA
http://chopbar510.com/

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  1. I haven't eaten there yet, but was wondering how big the seating area is.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Thanks for the report, Robert. We are like-minded this morning. I wonder if someone on the Chowhound Team can just consolidate our two threads.

        Would you categorize those dishes you tried as small plates, meant for sharing?

        1. re: abstractpoet

          Yeah, the "snacks" and "cazuelas" are cold and hot small plates.

          You might edit the title, it's not in Jack London Square. It's four or five blocks away, on 4th near Alice. Much easier street parking there than by JLS, at least in the evening.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            "Cazuela" is Spanish for "casserole." In some geographic areas/countries it can mean soup. For example: In Chile "cazuela de ave" is a soup made with chicken and vegetables and "cazuela de vacuno" is a soup made with meat and vegetables. In México "cazuela" usually refers to a clay pot, so any dish made in a clay pot can be a cazuela.

            1. re: dlglidden

              At Chop Bar, it refers to the earthenware dishes they're served in.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Just out of curiosity, what do they serve their "mains" in?

      2. Just came from lunch, had the ham and cheese panino. It was fine but I was expecting something more...artisanal, I guess. It was a basic panino on an herb slab, tasty but underwhelming for $8.50. And the side green salad was sort of a sad joke. It was literally - literally - four small pieces of lettuce with a few diced tomatoes in a very salty vinaigrette. I mean come on, if you say it comes with a salad it should be more than two bites. The ironic thing is that had I known the salad would be little more than a garnish, I would have ordered a side salad for $5 (and then I would probably gripe about the combined price...). With all that said, it's unfair to judge given that they just opened. It's a cool space and the service was friendly, if still getting into the groove. I'll definitely give it another shot.

        1. We went for dinner tonight. Got there at a little after 5:00 and they weren't serving dinner yet (just snacks and one sandwich option), so we walked down to J.L.S. and back until the beginning of their dinner service at 5:30.

          It was a nice evening so we opted to sit in the open patio area. Nice space. Not very big, though--maybe 10 tables in the whole place? Mostly two tops, it seemed. The patio area is nice for a slightly bigger group if it's a nice day, and there are a lot of seats at the bar.

          My wife and I just shared a few small plates/appetizers:

          The charcuterie ($12)- mostly Fatted Calf items (a couple of salamis, some kind of pate), housemade pickles (not bad), some whole grain mustard, some baguette slices, and the prosciutto-style Kentucky ham that Robert mentioned in another thread. The ham was definitely the star here--deep smoky flavor, with some nuttiness to it too. Really, really good.

          Louisiana shrimp ala diablo ($8)- five decently sized shrimp, great flavor, a nice char on them. A few lime wedges to squeeze. Might have been good with a little bit more kick (wasn't really spicy at all), but I still liked these a lot.

          Pork ribs slow cooked in apple cider ($9)- four meaty ribs. Not fall off the bone tender--a little bit more bite to them, but not in a bad way. The apple cider glaze/sauce was really tasty. Came with a few slices of apple that were stewed in the sauce too.

          Green beans with capers and garlic ($5)- We just wanted some vegetables to balance things out. These were solid enough, not great. Somehow not garlicky enough for me even though there were lots of whole cloves of garlic. Good value though.

          I had a glass of one of their wines on tap--some kind of red Rhone blend from Preston. Great deal at just $6 a glass. Wife had their agua fresca of the day--apple cinnamon. This was just OK, I thought. Very light and refreshing, but not enough apple flavor.

          For dessert, we share a Mexican chocolate pudding. Very good--we cleaned the bowl.

          All in all, it was a nice meal, and the service was friendly. For small-plate, tapa-esque dining (though obviously a different style of food), I enjoyed this a lot more than any of my recent meals at Cesar--and it's definitely a much, much better value.

          We'll be back to try their lunch and maybe some of the main dishes on the dinner menu next time.

          1 Reply
          1. re: abstractpoet

            Happy to report that the ribs are now falling off the bone tender. And plenty of meaty bones.

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            Chop Bar
            247 4th St, #111, Oakland, CA 94607

          2. We tried the weekend brunch today and were pretty disappointed. The menu is kind of ho-hum; not a lot of options that really caught my fancy. I ended up ordering the Niman Ranch ham and Vermont cheddar frittata, which somehow tasted pretty similar to a run-of-the-mill omelet using any generic ham or cheese. They can't toss in some herbs or something? Some onions? The only thing it tasted like was salt. The frittata itself was not particularly fluffy--it was actually kind of dry. And the home fries that came on the side weren't particularly crisp or well-seasoned.

            My wife fared a little bit better with the corned beef hash. This was done in pretty much the identical style as the one served at 900 Grayson, with largish cubes of meat rather than a true hash. But pretty much every component of the dish--the meat, the potatoes, the eggs--was a notch or two below 900 Grayson's version.

            We liked the one dinner we had at Chop Bar, so again, this was pretty disappointing. With so many better options in the East Bay, we probably won't venture back for breakfast/brunch--unless it turns out that we somehow just ordered all the wrong things.

            Maybe the chilaquiles would have been OK? The "Eggs ala Cazuela"?

            1 Reply
            1. re: abstractpoet

              A dry frittata has been overcooked, but it's not supposed to be fluffy, the eggs are just stirred, not beaten.