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Aug 5, 2010 01:20 AM

Finally went to Wood Tavern - - - now I understand the hype......

Since moving back to the East Bay 10 months ago, I'd been wanting to try Wood Tavern but had never gotten around to it (such is life with a just turned 3 year old boy and his soon to be 6 month old baby brother). My wife and I were finally able to darken their doorway for a late lunch today (well, yesterday now). Even at 2:30PM, the place was 2/3 full with a comfortable din (no noise dampening features in sight). We noticed the table next to us had 3 open wine bottles for 4 people, and a bunch of open wine bottles next to a couple people at the bar. I mentioned to our server it must be wine distributor day, and she said that Wednesdays and Thursdays were when the reps typically came in to have their offerings tested by management and, later, staff.

I knew I was ordering the pastrami sandwich even before the menus arrived. My wife went with the Zuppa di Pesce (listed as the Tavern-Style Bouillabaise on WT's website menus) as her main. We started with the English Pea & Prosciutto Bruschetta, which our server kindly split into two separate plates as our 2 top table was a bit crowded with glasses, dishes, cutlery, bread basket and a bottle of the '08 Turley Juvenile zin (very reasonably priced at $48, with decent Spiegelau stemware provided). A total of 2 bruschetta was served, so one for each of us. Portion size was adequate, and the verdict from both of us was positive. Very nice balance of flavors, with the only minor quibble being that the bruschetta were so crispy that care was needed in consuming the last couple bites.

We shared our mains, and were both pleased with the quality and quantity of food provided. The pastrami sandwich was scrumptious (albeit non-traditional compared with the East Coast deli style a la Katz or Carnegie with the use of a La Farine baguette), with the added bonus of the side coleslaw providing a cool contrast with a dressing that avoided the use of mayo. The zuppa di pesce was also very tasty, with a large qty of various fish & shellfish delicacies swimming in a tangy/sweet tomato cream broth. The Turley Juvenile once again paired as nicely with our mains as it did with the bruschetta starter.

My wife being a dessert aficionado, we chose to split the warm chocolate cake with hazelnut ice cream. We once again were pleasantly surprised at the quality of this along with the abundance of the dessert itself, and left the plate clean.

We walked out of there in agreement that this was an establishment that hits the increasingly rare note of quality as well as quantity in what they serve. We shall return very soon......

Wood Tavern
6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

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  1. Thanks for the report. WT is definitely one of my favorites too. The food, service and pricing are all very good. IMO, though you are right about the noise level. I've been there for dinners where i had trouble hearing my friend across from me at one of the bigger tables.

    1. My biggest problem with WT is that a lot of their dishes are drowning in sauce. I recently had the chicken and there must have been a cup of jus on the plate. The vegetables were lost and you needed a spoon to rescue them. I have seen the same treatment of fish and pork. Obviously something you won't notice with a sandwich or stew, but most dishes have a soupy mess on the plate that I don't like.

      Otherwise, the service, quality, portion size, value,etc are all very good

      2 Replies
      1. re: Scott M

        Thanks for the perspective. Was planning on trying the burger and confit next time.

        Are portion sizes larger at dinner? I notice the price for the same items goes up from lunch to dinner.

        1. re: Eugene Park

          I haven't had the same meal at lunch and dinner to be able to compare apples to apples but I recently had the chicken at lunch and the portion was quite big so I can't imagine it would be larger at dinner. My guess is the portions are the same for lunch and dinner.

      2. On your next visit, do try the frites (the thin type, masterfully fried) with your pastrami and ask for aioli for dipping instead of catsup. This will exhaust your sodium allotment for the next three weeks, but will definitely be worth it.

        1. It's one of our faves! I took my wife there for lunch on her birthday a couple of weeks ago. We tried the Pork Belly and Fig Salad. Warm crispy porky goodness with cool quartered figs. Dressed with a simple vinaigrette, blue cheese, toasted hazelnuts and water cress. Amazing.

          Run, don't walk.