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Plum Review (Oakland)

Day 1, and Plum is already on the fast track to becoming one of my favorite restaurants. I’m not sure I’ve quite had this experience before, where I’ve walked into a restaurant and immediately felt bombarded by similarities to other restaurants I love – all restaurants with creative food, most at moderate price points, but with very different vibes. The open kitchen looks quite a bit like Commis’ (flattop and salamander, extensive mise en place, lots of tweezers involved in plating); the lusty Mediterranean flavors reminded me of Bar Tartine under Jason Fox, and most obviously, the creative vegetable cooking and light but sure hand with Asian flavors are in Plum's shared DNA with sister restaurant Coi. The space and vibe recalled some of my NYC favorites as well – the dark walls and intense, focused chefs reminded me of Degustation, while the monolithic, blond wood furniture and raucous music (as well as the generous use of pork fat and offal) seemed transplanted from Momofuku Ssam Bar. The most immediate comparison I can make is probably to Commonwealth in SF, which has a similar feel, but leans more Asian, and hits a slightly lower price point. I enjoyed my meal there, but the Mediterranean-leaning, modern Californian cooking at Plum scored a more direct hit for me.

Patterson circulated around the open kitchen last night, coaching cooks on some of the fussier plating, while Laura Kiino worked the flattop. Despite the nervous energy, it was a quiet, disciplined kitchen.

The menu is divided into “snacks’, “to start”, “vegetables and grains”, “animal”, “cheese”, and “sweet”. We had the artichoke with green olive romesco to start – tiny braised artichokes dotted with fresh cheese, their natural nuttiness amplified by the romesco. The chilled eggplant soup was fantastic as well – lightly curried and creamy, spiked with the bite of preserved lemon, topped with a spoonful of clear tomato gelee, it was a lovely, silky counterpart to a mound of tender braised fresh beans (both pole and shelled).

Mushroom dashi with yuba, tofu, and greens was chosen for its similarity to a dish I’d had at Coi – while the dashi was delicious, it didn’t seem to really permeate any of the star ingredients, which were disappointingly bland. Once I hit the bottom of the bowl, though, I savored the marvelously toasty mushrooms, along with the smoky broth.

The new potatoes with lardo, chanterelles, and arugula were delicious – coins of potato were draped with lardo and topped chanterelles cooked down so far they resembled bacon chips. I was a little startled that the potatoes were cold (the plate was hot) – I think it was one of the only missteps that night (the other being that the initial courses came out slowly, but as I was witness to the intense, last minute tutorials in the open kitchen, I found that entirely understandable. Of note, the pace picked up significantly toward the second half of the meal).

For our “animal” course, we had the pork trotter burger, the slow cooked farm egg with chicken giblet fried farro, and the seared squid with black rice porridge. All three were great, but the squid was fantastic – perfectly cooked, tender squid, with an inky black “porridge” that was closer to risotto than jook. The slow-cooked farm egg wobbled over chicken giblet spiked farro, a Mediterranean fried rice of sorts. These two dishes exemplify the approach toward fusion that I love – rather than forcing disparate flavors to combine in odd and novel ways, they appeal to deeper, elemental human cravings that span different cultures – the desire for umami, the craving for carbs and fat – and manage to be both refined and deeply satisfying.

The pork trotter burger was quite delicious, but I haven’t decided yet if I actually preferred it to just a trotter cake on a plate with the bright, sharp radish slaw on the side. I did find that after a while, having all three animal dishes at the same time started to dampen my palate a bit. In the future, I will probably try to alternate starters/vegetable + grain dishes with animal dishes, as the earlier dishes had carefully calibrated acidity that I think would have helped prevent palate fatigue in the animal course.

With tax, tip, additional tip (they build in a 16% service charge, to be shared amongst the entire staff, which I think is unusually low for the Bay Area). and one drink each, minus a 10% opening night discount (as an apology for any glitches that may have occurred, which I found both classy and unnecessary), the bill came to $70 pp. It wasn’t cheap, but we also waddled out a little over-stuffed, and for the quality of the food, I think it’s a great value.

2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

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  1. Excellent review and very helpful. I'm headed there tonight and my mouth is watering from your descriptions...Thanks.

    1. This place is a great addition to the oakland scene, but not the destination I had been hoping for.

      Note my palate is tarnished by the previous meal I had eaten - a "best ever" at Manresa. Compared to the sparkling flavors and combinations (at 10x the cost), I might not have my objectivity.

      Service was great, especially for a near-opening night. Sitting at the bar with 2 is certainly the right way to go, I kept craning my neck to get a glimpse of patterson cooking.

      Wine selection is very good. We went the "flask" route, which is about a half-bottle. The waiter suggested well.

      The eggplant soup was great. The Potatoes were a little weird - we could only guess that the lardo had the peculiar "new car smell" taste. Bites without the lardo were pleasant.

      The squid had a very nice lemony taste with the bulghur, but the squid was nearly missing, so the dish didn't work "as squid". The egg, however - very nice. They recommended mixing the egg in, korean style, so it coated the grains and veg. We got talked into the deserts, and enjoyed both the white chocolate cake (which didn't taste like white chocolate) and the burnt cinnemon ice cream, which was up near the level of lush (we tried to make it over to lush afterward, but missed by about 10 minutes). Good deserts.

      The tastes here are overwhelmingly light and delicate. I think it's a very light hand with the salt that does it, and frankly it's rather welcome.

      My feeling is the kitchen hasn't quite hit its stride yet. The dishes need some kinks worked out, the chefs interpreting Patterson need to feel their way around the dishes a bit more.

      Plum isn't going to be a Commis. It doesn't strive for that. In a month it'll be the kind of casual place you can drop by without reservations later on a friday, get a really good wine and something light but satisfying. You can spend very little by ordering less (chicarones and a burger), or go more whole hog.

      Manresa Restaurant
      320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

      3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

      5 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow

        Everyone feels for you having to eat to Manresa and then Plum back-to-back. Man that sounds like work!

        1. re: bbulkow

          Interesting - the only dish I had that I would characterize as "light" would be the mushroom dashi and yuba. Looks like they changed up the menu quite a bit from day one.

          1. re: bbulkow

            "overwhelmingly light and delicate"
            Overpowering in effect or strength

            1. re: wolfe

              Can one be overwhelmed by delicacy?
              But I probably meant exclusively light and delicate, or very much light and delicate.

            2. re: bbulkow

              Went friday and while the food was very good things just were not quite right. In the Animal section of the menu at one point there was only one dish available (out of four originally available). Initially service was nice but getting our first course took quite awhile and the other courses weren't paced much faster. Hopefully this gets fixed as with proper pacing and not running out of food this would be a real nice addition to the Oakland dining scene.

            3. I too was there opening night and I have to say Plum is lovely! I love the black walls, art, and oddly shaped room. My friend and I sat at the bar and watched the 8 person team, including a supervising Daniel Patterson in action. Service was attentive, though there were some longish pauses, but nothing unforgivable on opening night. My three favorite dishes of the night were the cauliflower with dandelion salsa, the vegetables in a vadouvan (sp?) broth and the goat cheese cake with grape sorbet desert. I can't speak to the animal dishes, since I am a vegetarian, but as a vegetarian I left very happy. It is a great addition to Oakland, and BRAVO for staying open until 1 AM!! Very convivial and fun. I can't wait to see how it develops, and think it is off to a great start.

              1. Add link.

                2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                1. Agree with everyone that the food here is pretty delicious. The only miss for me was the cabbage salad, which was heavily sour and crunchy without much in the way of sweetness or any softer textures to balance it out. But the trotter burger: awesomely melt-in-the-mouth; the squid + black rice: tangy and tender and creamy all at once; and the potatoes + lardo: oddly refreshing for something so rich. Cauliflower with bulgar and dandelion was a perfect, comforting fall dish.

                  It was interesting to eat so much food that leans toward bitter, tangy and sour accents, and crunchy vs. soft textures -- there seemed to be very little dairy in most non-dessert dishes, and despite eating a lot, we left feeling full but not stuffed.

                  As far as desserts go, the white chocolate parfait was incredible -- an utterly wonderful balance of creamy chocolate with a fragrant cookie-type crust and a sublime huckleberry compete with candied fennel. IMHO one of the absolute best desserts I've ever eaten. (Which doesn't tell anyone else much, I suppose, but it was really, really good.) We sat at the bar and the parfaits were being prepared nonstop. The chocolate cream was also very good, although the basil meringue (a soft rather than crispy meringue) was a bit sweet for me.

                  Oh, and as for any reservations about the restaurant adding the tip to the bill ( I saw a snippy remark or two on Yelp about this): 16% is really very modest and we were happy to add more for the attentive yet relaxed and unobtrusive service.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: bgbc

                    I went back to try the bar menu Friday night and left happy once again. I had a delicious miso, apple parsnip soup and an amazingly delicious grilled cheese along with the Linden Street dark ale.I also tried the potato chicharones and boy were those tasty. Light and crispy and flavorful.

                    We arrived at 11:30 PM and were happy to see a few parties enjoying dinner late too. I really want to support any restaurant that will serve until 1 AM, especially one this tasty. I think when the bar is finished in the spring, that will be even better and do a great job of filling the space later at night.

                    1. re: happenstance

                      Pretty sure it was turnip, not parsnip. Agree, however, that it was lovely. Silky smooth and rich with the addition of pepper cream.

                      1. re: lexdevil

                        oops...you're so right. turnip not parsnip.

                    2. re: bgbc

                      enjoyed all the complex flavors; plus every dish had a nice mix of veggies. glad to finally have a tasty menu without pork belly (i tried the turnip soup, dashi, cauliflower, potatoes, farm egg, and trotter burger)

                    3. Back again last night for a meal that was better than our first. The cauliflower with bulghur was fantastic, so much so that we added an additional order toward the end of our meal. The turnip and apple soup was still lovely, as were the beets. The squid with black rice porridge was, as daveena noted above, lovely. My husband loved his carrots and leeks, which he refused to share.

                      The chickpea fritters were far better tonight than on our first visit, so good that we had four orders! On our first visit the flavor was nice, but they were a bit heavy. Last night they were lighter, crisper, and hotter (in temperature). My theory is that the cooking oil may not have been as hot on our first visit, when we dined at 5:30. At Adesso if you order arancini at opening they tell you that you can't have them until closer to 6:00 because the oil isn't ready. I wonder if our slightly later reservation last night (6:15) was responsible for the better fritters.

                      1. I went to Plum last week and had a really enjoyable meal, and I'm delighted that this place is in Oakland. This is the menu that we had: http://www.urbanspoon.com/u/menu/1542... Three of us were there, and we shared: Chickpea Fritters, Popcorn, Fig roll up, Potato chiccarones, Stir Fry Salad, Roasted Beets, Artichoke Terrine, Braised Cauliflower, Potatoes and Lardo, Pork Trotter Burger, and Slow Cooked Farm Egg w/Farro.

                        I loved the artichoke terrine and the stir fry salad -- I saw a criticism that the salad was too sour and crunchy, but since I love sour and crunchy I loved this, and thought that the pomegranate seeds added just the right sweet/tangy note. The artichoke terrine was fantastic -- really a great combination of textures and flavors, with the dense artichoke heart, the goat cheese there for softness, but crunchy fennel and shaved artichoke leaves for crunch.

                        I also really liked the popcorn and the fig roll ups with the crackers -- great snack at the bar food, and the flavoring on the popcorn was fantastic. The potatoes and lardo that I had were great -- the potatoes weren't cold (someone else noted that theirs were) -- the chickpea fritters were perfectly fried, and we all loved the dipping sauce, and the beets and cauliflower both sounded like they might be boring, but were really interesting and well done (and I loved the bulger with the cauliflower).

                        The only real miss for me was the Pork Trotter burger -- the pork got a little lost in the bun, and I ended up mostly picking out the meat and eating it alone. I did really like the slow cooked egg with farro, though, which was the only other dish with meat that we got (excepting the potatoes and lardo) -- It was a very cozy and comforting kind of dish with great flavors in it. I agree with daveena that having the animal dishes both come at once wasn't great -- they seemed too dense and heavy at that point, and I was glad that I still had some of the slaw to eat long with them.

                        The staff was fantastic: they answered the many questions that we had about the menu in detail, and they couldn't have been more friendly and helpful. I also love the space in general -- the lighting is great and the art is perfect for it. All of the tables are basically communal, though, and the benches that you sit on are not particularly comfortable after any longer than 30 minutes -- while the wood looks nice, a cushion would be very appreciated.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: JasmineG

                          About the potato dish - did the lardo have a strange chemical taste/smell, kind of like new car smell? Is that how lardo is supposed to be? (My potato and dish were at the same temperature, I just didn't know what to make of the taste itself)

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            BBulkow, I know what you mean about the lardo. Lardo is cured w/herbs (usually rosemary) and then chefs do whatever they want with it - pickle it, fry it, etc. or just slice it very thin and serve it as an antipasto.

                            My impression with Plum's was that they had smoked it in house and haven't gotten that part of it down yet. The "chemical" taste was to me that of acrid smoke. I've had similar treatments before but agree that Plums was a bit off.

                            1. re: bbulkow

                              You know, I was on the lookout for that chemical taste, but didn't experience it at all. Maybe they had worked out the kinds in their lardo preparation by the time I was at Plum?

                              1. re: JasmineG

                                I too detected no off chemical flavor in the lardo, either last night or on the 11th.

                          2. Important advice: save room for dessert! I usually swing savory. On my first two visits to Plum we failed to save room for dessert, though each time I regretted my inability to try the Milk Chocolate Cream with Basil and Pine Nuts. This time we tried not one, but three desserts, and the Milk Chocolate Cream, while nice, was the least among them.

                            The Roasted White Chocolate Parfait with Huckleberry and Tarragon did not sound attractive to me. I've never understood divorcing cocoa butter from cocoa solids. Other than texture, the result lacks everything I like about chocolate. This dessert came as a complete shock to me. The perfectly crisp, thin crust played beautifully against the silky parfait. More importantly, the tartness of the huckleberries balanced the rich sweetness of the parfait. Most important of all for me, though this was not a savory dessert, there was enough salt in the dish to give it a mouth watering more-ish-ness.

                            And then there was the Goat Cheesecake with Niabel Grape Sorbet and Graham Cracker Crumbs. It was absolutely the best cheesecake I have ever eaten. Not too sweet, not too tart. Creamy without being overwhelmingly rich (which is not to say that it was not rich). I felt like Goldilocks, having finally found a dessert that was just right.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: lexdevil

                              Yeah, I forgot to say, I loved the Roasted White Chocolate Parfait, and only ordered it because someone here mentioned how good it was. And that highlighted how great the staff was and how well informed they are about the food: our waitress explained in detail how it was made, which was fascinating for a food and cooking nerd like me.

                              1. re: JasmineG

                                I detest white chocolate with an unholy passion.

                                I loved the White Chocolate desert I had there (I don't think it was a parfait).

                                1. re: bbulkow

                                  I feel you on the white chocolate. Loving that dessert caused a most disturbing cognitive dissonance. I'm not ready to rethink my dislike of white chocolate, but I am definitely ready to make an exception for this dessert.

                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                    It's called a parfait on the menu, but it doesn't look like what I think of a parfait.

                                    (I also generally detest white chocolate, but make a mean white chocolate cheesecake, maybe it just does well in that kind of treatment).

                                2. re: lexdevil

                                  Amen on the white chocolate parfait. I think it's the only time in my life I've actually understood why someone might want to eat white chocolate.

                                  1. re: daveena

                                    I second and third the parfait and cheescake. simply DIVINE.

                                3. Went again last night and the food is still top notch. The service has improved and the pacing is better. We nabbed a 5:45 p.m. reservation at about 5:00 p.m. so you can get in late some times. This time they seemed to have everything available on the menu (we went the 3rd night and lots of stuff wasn't available). The Trotter burgr wasn't on the Menu :( but the other dishes they had we very good. We had a small bite and then three courses each with a shared desert and we brought a bottle of wine. Bill with tip+tax was $145 for two. Over all a nice addition to the Oakland dinning scene.

                                  1. Have a been a few times since the original post - the most recent version of the potatoes with lardo is much better - the potatoes were hot, and they were paired with a savory, tart puree of what I think was caramelized onions.

                                    The miso/apple/turnip soup, artichoke terrine, and white chocolate parfait are my current must-orders, as well as the current version of the burger, which is absolutely terrific. They switched to oxtail/beef cheek - I think it's larger than the pork trotter version, and much more flavorful. The texture is great, too - it's almost fluffy in its lightness, but deeply caramelized all around.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: daveena

                                      Oh man, we just went tonight for the first time, and that oxtail/beef cheek burger is stunningly good--I only snuck a few bites from my wife, but if it's still on the menu the next time we go, I'm ordering one all for myself. Our party of four ordered one of each "animal" course available on the menu, and I think we all agreed that this one was by far the best.

                                      Equally amazing was the white chocolate parfait that everyone else has been raving about (which our waiter told us was made with SOUS VIDE white chocolate, which I'm not even sure I understand). All the desserts we tried were excellent.

                                      Other highlights included a beet "boudin noir" where they used, I believe, black rice to emulate the texture of a blood sausage--this was awesome, and so creative--as well as the chicory salad that seems to have been on the menu for a little while (really enjoyed the date-yogurt vinaigrette).

                                      My entree was the slow-cooked farm egg over farro with smoked chicken, which I took as a kind of take on donburi. I liked it, but wasn't blown away the way I was with Commis' take on this theme.

                                      Service was great; all of the suggestions our waiter made were spot-on, especially the crisp white Greek wine that he recommended to go with our first few courses.

                                      At just about $50 a person (after tax and tip, plus additional tip, and including some wine), we all agreed that this was a great value for the money. That's still more than my wife and I can afford to spend on a regular basis, but, as I believe someone else also said, it's easy to imagine getting out for much less. The burger ($15) plus one of the snacks or starters ($4-$10) could easily make up a light (but still satisfying) meal for one.

                                      Will be interested in seeing what the lunch menu is like when they start that up in December! What a great addition to the ever-burgeoning Oakland dining scene...

                                      3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                      1. re: abstractpoet

                                        I think the oxtail/beef cheek burger is the best thing on the menu right now. Hope Plum keeps this as a regular, especially if they open for lunch as rumored.

                                    2. pricewise, what's the range on the apps and entrees?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: nicedragonboy

                                        "snacks" (finger foods like deviled eggs or chickpea fritters) are $4
                                        starters (soups, salads, etc.) are $8-11
                                        vegetable dishes (tapa-sized small plates) are $12-13
                                        "animal" dishes (sized like a big small plate or a smallish entree) are $15-19

                                        I imagine this varies some from day to day, but that's the general range. Our waiter recommended 2 or 3 dishes (of various sizes) per person, and I think that's about right.

                                        I also appreciated the fact that b/c we had four people and most of the "snacks" are portioned for three, they gave us an extra piece so that we could all at least try one. Not sure if there was an extra charge for this, but it didn't seem like it.

                                        Most of the dishes were good for sharing, with just a couple exceptions (like the burger, for example, though that didn't stop us!).

                                      2. Super good tonight. Most of the tables were groups of 4 or 5 lingering over a bottle of wine and a few dishes. Very easy ot here in there. Patterson was at the stove. I had two new dishes, the beet boudin blanc and some kind of oyster "stew", both of which were exceptional. I just popped in and popped out, the kind of place a solo diner might enjoy for a quick 1/2 hour. They're doing great food there!

                                        1. Plum opened for lunch Wed 12/1/10. Hrs: M-F 11-2
                                          beefcheek/oxtail burger is on the lunch menu

                                          Follow on Twitter: plumfooddrink

                                          Still on my list to try.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: hhc

                                            I stopped by Plum for lunch today. A good list of soups including an interesting looking smoked chicken and farro. The pork sandwich also sounded good. The burger was great, same as I remembered from their dinner service, but this time served with some sweet potato chips on the side. Also tried their mac n cheese fries which were three inch long and an inch thick rectangles with some light panko-like breading on on the outside. They were nicely crisped on the outside but the interior tasted mostly of noodle, not as gooey or cheesy as I would've liked. I'd probably try the braised bacon next time. The quality of the ingredients and standard of food here is very high and the menu is very flexible, they'll do half orders of soup and they have some nice sides to round out meals. I'll definitely be back soon.

                                          2. I sat at the counter, which was fun. It was interesting to try to guess what dishes they were making. Not your everyday mise en place.

                                            heirloom popcorn with escabeche powder ($4): perfectly nice popcorn, didn't taste anything unusual. Probably wouldn't order again.

                                            potato chicharrones ($4): really good, super-crunchy, some sort of salty-tangy dusting reminded me of Cheetos. I guess these were extruded?

                                            wild green panisse ($4): these were thicker than I expected and cut into strips, maybe 3/8" by 1/2" by 3". There was a little crunch, maybe some millet or something, and some yogurt-like sauce. Really delicious.

                                            pâté ciccioli ($4): nice pâté, not as fatty as I expected given the "ciccioli," served on little bits of very crunchy toast with whole-grain mustard.

                                            oyster and potato stew ($12): this was extraordinary. Two different textures split down the middle, maybe one was a variation on vichyssoise? Wow.

                                            leeks vinaigrette ($10): not what I expected, the leeks were tiny, like maybe the ones used in Japanese cooking that you can get at the Bowl. Good.

                                            olive oil braised cauliflower ($12): delicious. The cauliflower turned so dark from the cooking technique that I might have thought it was broccoli if I hadn't known otherwise.

                                            slow-cooked farm egg ($16): the whole grains made this a really homey dish for a cold, wet night.

                                            beef shortrib steak ($20): declicious, but how do they get those big chunks of meat from short ribs? Glue?

                                            Very interesting selection of food-friendly wines by the glass. The Closel Savenniere "La Jalousie" ($10) and Occhipinti "SP68" ($12) were standouts.

                                            I couldn't eat food this creative every day, but I'm looking forward to going back.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Oh yes! The oyster stew. That is one *nice* dish.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                I counted 10 dishes; were these really small portions, or were you sharing with someone else?

                                                (Legit question - I wouldn't want to eat here if I had to order 10 dishes for myself.) TIA!

                                                1. re: Cindy

                                                  That was a lot of food, though nothing was heavy. I probably wouldn't have ordered much more if there had been two of us.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    When I was there about a month ago, I had literally two dishes for just myself. The oyster stew and something with mushrooms. I went in slightly hungry and came out satisfied. When I went there near the opening, I think we had 8 dishes for 3 people, but one diner was sick and ate almost nothing. I am, frankly, a little shocked if Mr Lauriston ate all that himself - but I've had days where I could. The food there is marvelously light but satisfying, so one can almost eat as much or as little as one likes.

                                                    Two of the dishes he lists are miniscule.

                                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                                      Actually I couldn't finish all of that, I had some leftovers.

                                                  2. re: Cindy

                                                    When my husband and I went I believe we ordered 6 savory dishes and 2 desserts. We had to ask for bread, and were not full when we left. Note that everything we ordered was vegetarian (or close to vegetarian). The meat dishes looked more filling.

                                                  3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    I think yours is the first review with Charlie Parker in the kitchen - sounds like it might be even stronger than before.

                                                    Our waitress explained how they made the potato chicharrones last time I was there, but I can't remember all the steps - there's dehydrating, and coating it in something, and maybe something else, before frying... it seemed really labor intensive.

                                                    Maybe the "steak" was made with chunks of short rib stuck together with transglutaminase?

                                                  4. Because I work in the area, I've dropped in for lunch a couple of times after they started their lunch service.

                                                    Once I went back for the beef cheeks burger because I enjoyed it so much during dinner. For lunch, the burger comes with house-made potato chips, while at dinner it came with a small pile of greens with a light vinaigrette. I think I should have asked to substitute the lunch version with a salad because I don't usually eat chips, and the one chip I tried was kind of stale.

                                                    Went back another time and had a half order of the maitake soup ($4.50). Don't know if it was because I was nursing a sore throat but the soup felt like it just replenished me with everything I needed to get through the day. It was light with a nice mushroom flavor, but what I noticed about Plum's soups are that they come with a lot of ingredients. So a long with mushrooms, there were lots of greens and heirloom carrot strips. They actually give you a pair of chopsticks to eat your soup because there's so much in it. And I have to say for half an order, it was a nice size so I bet the full order can really fill you up for lunch.

                                                    But I ordered half because I also got the pork avocado sandwich ($13). It was on slices of bread that looked like Acme bread slices that were grilled or toasted on the fryer. It was a bit messy to eat with the crusty bread and the slippery avocado, but very enjoyable, mostly because of the complex flavors. The pork pieces themselves weren't that exciting. In fact, the pork served almost like the carrier to hold all the other ingredients. Not sure what they were but it was a mix of pickling flavors and savory. It came with a small side of potato salad that was very nice too.

                                                    I met my friend for lunch and made reservations, and good thing I did because most of the walk-ins were sent to the bar (which I wouldn't mind if I was by myself) and most of the tables had been reserved, so even though the place looked empty, the hostess had to turn walk-ins away, and there seemed to be a lot of walk-ins interested in trying out Plum for lunch. So my suggestion is to make reservations on their site. You can get same-day last-minute reservations since most people probably don't think about making lunch reservations, but I recommend it because there are few nice places for lunch in the area like Plum.

                                                    1. I wanted SO MUCH to like Plum. Listen, I'm the person people call, email and visit to get restaurant recommendations. I tell everyone I NEVER EVER recommend restaurants, just the dishes. It's very rare that a kitchen can make every dish good. A restaurant may make their pasta great but salad awful, noodles great and fried rice bland, their samosas crispy and their dosa thick and soggy. You get the gist. Okay, back to Plum. I wanted to like it. I read a lot about this place. I liked my experience at COI in SF. So I was already a fan of Daniel Patterson. For God's sake, I went there to celebrate my wedding anniversary. So I was almost sure stepping in that we'll have a good time. We were given the menu and served the water but no one came to ask us what we'd like to drink we've been handed the menu and wine list for like 20 minutes. So, we ended up ordering food and wine at the same time. It's really not a big deal, just highly surprising and annoying. We had our little toddler with us and so we ordered the popcorn with escabeche powder. Rolled my eyes when they served it. Really quite obnoxious for a restaurant to serve popcorn with a sprinkle of fish powder, I thought. If it's complimentary, I get it but it wasn't. My partner and I did not know what escabeche powder was at the time of ordering it but we specifically told the waitress that my partner and child are vegetarians and we need to know that the four vegetarian dishes we ordered ARE vegetarians. She assured us that the popcorn with escabeche IS vegetarian. We went home and found out that it's fish powder that we've consumed. No one's gonna die or go to hell for it but it just feels violating. The waitress is either ignorant and/or she simply does not care. The next thing that came was my favorite dish. Sorry I do not know what it's called but it's vegetarian, green and shaped like fish sticks. It was DELISH! Has a nutty texture and supremely clean and flavorful in taste. My kobe steak was very decent as expected. I have no complaints about that. But everything else (we ordered a total of 5 different things) were just shockingly lame. We also ordered the Braised Cauliflower and Roasted Carrots. Our waitress (a very pretty petite Latina/Black woman) I thought contributed largely to our unpleasant dining experience at Plum. She smiled and nodded a lot, but absent-mindedly and forcefully. She was short and impersonable. The hostess was super nice but that waitress was something else. Towards the end, because we did not think there's enough food for our toddler, we decided to order another dish. Waited 20 minutes for it and it still did not arrive. On my way to the bathroom, I told the waitress to cancel the order and she just shrug her shoulder and said: oh okay! Just like that, no apologies or explanation. When I came back to the table, my partner said she did not know I canceled it and told the waitress the same thing and that the waitress was just down right rude about it to her. The best part of our dinner was the great company we found ourselves with. We shared the communal table with an older African American couple and chatted with them throughout dinner. Lovely couple. They too thought the waitress was short with us but really nice to them. Sigh.....maybe given a different night with a different waitress and a different kitchen crew, our experience at Plum could have been more positive.

                                                      373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                      2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: X. Lin

                                                        There's no fish in the escabeche powder.

                                                        1. re: X. Lin

                                                          Why does is matter what race the various people you encountered were? Just curious.

                                                          If you actually read the wikipedia article on escabeche, you would have noted that "Escabeche is a typical Mediterranean cuisine which refers to *both* a dish of poached or fried fish that is marinated in an acidic mixture before serving, *and to the marinade itself.* ... In the New World, versions of the basic marinade are often used with other foods than fish and meats, for example green bananas (Puerto Rico), jalapeño peppers (Mexico), etc."

                                                          In California, "escabeche" is commonly used to refer to spicy pickled vegetables ( jalapeños and carrots) used to accent Mexican dishes.

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            Daniel Patterson's "escabeche powder" is a mix of vegetables that would go into an escabeche marinade, freeze-dried and ground into a powder.

                                                          2. re: X. Lin

                                                            It could be they sensed a level of discrimination in how they were treated in comparison to the couple they were seated next to. It certainly wouldn't be anything new in the restaurant business and several threads and articles have mentioned this topic during the past year.

                                                            1. re: X. Lin

                                                              If you didn't think that the escabeche may or may not have had fish in it (per Ruth and Robert's comments above) until you got home and looked it up somewhere, what was it about the popcorn that made you roll your eyes when it was served? Was it otherwise unappealing for some reason?

                                                              How child friendly did you think it was? Sounds like a long time to be there with a toddler (no way would I have ever tolerated a twenty minute wait for service when I had my toddlers in tow).

                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                Susan would your toddlers tolerate a 20 minute wait? Mine would have vociferously expressed their displeasure.

                                                                1. re: wolfe

                                                                  for wolfe: well, they haven't been toddlers for twenty plus years now :-), but no, they would have been rather unhappy, which is why I wouldn't have tolerated the wait either.....I haven't been to Plum, but the descriptions don't make it sound that child friendly to me.

                                                                2. re: susancinsf

                                                                  It sounded to me like X. Lin was peeved at being charged for a small portion of popcorn. But if that's the case, why order it to begin with? Not sure how the way it's presented on the menu would lead you to think it would be anything different (escabeche issue aside). It's in the "snack" section, and it's listed as popcorn.

                                                                  Not to get off topic, but it really does irritate me that "Plum" now has an overall one-star rating on this site, despite the dozens of positive reviews above.

                                                                  1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                    Chow's star ratings are so little-used that they're basically random.

                                                                    The popcorn came in a good-sized bowl, seemed like one of the more generous servings to me. I'd eaten some when i thought to take this picture. Those are the potato chicharones next to them.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Yeah, that doesn't seem like a small portion at all, which makes the poster's reaction even more puzzling.

                                                                      And about the ratings, that's precisely why one as skewed as this one bothers me. But I keep hoping that if enough people pretend the ratings don't exist, they'll just go away.

                                                                    2. re: abstractpoet

                                                                      Based on 1 rating. Hit the review box and rate it. One 5 star will probably get it up to 2.5 and a few more up to 4.

                                                                3. I ate at Plum on Monday night and there was a lot of new stuff to me on the menu. We shared the panisse sticks (deep fried chickpea fritters with some sort of green in them, fantastic), the oyster stew, the carrots, the cauliflower, the short ribs, and two desserts, a gingerbread and citrus dessert and a chocolate crackle one (I think that's everything). Everything was great, but the standouts to me were the carrots, the oyster stew, and the gingerbread/citrus dessert. I don't even really like cooked carrots, and these were phenomenal: the flavor and texture were just fantastic, and the sauce was unexpected, with some sort of crunchy breadcrumbs and butter. The oyster stew was just perfect, both thick and comforting and yet light at the same time, and the greens on top were something that I've never had before for a dish like this and would never think that would work, and yet they were the perfect compliment. I was really glad that we asked for bread to sop up the dregs of both of the above dishes.

                                                                  The dessert menu is all pretty new, and both desserts that we tried were delicious, but I was a huge fan of the gingerbread one (I don't remember the name of it now, and I don't think it's on the online menu). Very refreshing and unexpected, with a great combination of textures.

                                                                  We sat at the bar this time, which was more comfortable than the tables are. My only real complaint about Plum is that the seating is not comfortable at all (the big seats at the bar are better, but still very cumbersome). We had great service, but the above post isn't the first that I've read about someone having service problems at Plum, so I hope they get that worked out.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                                                    Agree that the panisse sticks are fantastic - every time I've been there, they've had some version of fried chickpea in the "Snacks" section, and this is the best one by far.

                                                                    I think the gingerbread-y dessert was listed as graham cracker cake? It was tender pieces of spice cake, paired with a creamy, lemony mousse, some candied kumquat, and fresh fennel fronds. Lots of bright, wintery flavors, really nicely composed.

                                                                    I loved the chocolate-rosemary dessert as well - I've had rosemary in desserts before, but mostly in caramel or citrus based ones. With chocolate, the rosemary tasted remarkably minty at first, before mellowing out.

                                                                    re: the popcorn discussion - I have to admit that I actually find the escabeche popcorn to not measure up to the other "Snacks", value-wise. The bowl's not tiny, but I'm not sure I see $4 of labor/raw materials in it.

                                                                    1. re: daveena

                                                                      Yes, you're of course right about the dessert. In most places I wouldn't order a graham cracker based dessert, but I love what they did with it at Plum.

                                                                      I completely agree about the popcorn -- it's good popcorn, but a pretty small bowl, especially for $4. And when I know how little even really good popcorn costs, it feels silly to pay that. Though I would love some of it if I came in for a late night nightcap sometime.

                                                                    2. re: JasmineG

                                                                      I was there tonight and would just add that the new roasted pork entree is also fantastic--a little bit like Chinese char siu in terms of flavor profile, and cooked to textural perfection (sous vide, probably?). We also really liked the current rendition of the farm egg + farro dish--lots of wild mushrooms and foraged greens in it this time around.

                                                                      We only ordered six things (and no dessert) for three of us to share, so it was a lighter meal, but I continue to be impressed by the overall quality and value. Haven't encountered anything but warm, professional service either, but can see how maybe some might find it overly casual?

                                                                    3. Hey Scott M did you really have a 1 star experience or were you testing the rating system?

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: wolfe

                                                                        It was a test, is there a way to recant?

                                                                        1. re: Scott M

                                                                          Have to ask the mods or overload with 5's to cover the single, now double, 1's.;-)

                                                                      2. Dropped in after dinner last night to try some desserts. At 10:30 the place was almost full but there were a couple of seats at the bar.

                                                                        Butterscotch pudding served in a jar was amazing: hardly sweet at all, quite salty, by far the most intense butterscotch flavor I've ever had. Definitely an adult dessert, I think it might make a sugar-loving kid cry.

                                                                        Cheesecake in a jar was not as exciting but still very good. Ditto for the very fruity olive oil ice cream.

                                                                        They were frying the potato "chicharrones" so we got an order of those to try them warm. They're not extruded like I thought: before frying they're translucent strips, look almost as thin as paper, similar to uncooked shrimp chips (which are primarily tapioca flour).

                                                                        We were sitting the pastry station and saw them making the more complicated desserts. Really a lot of labor going into those assemblages.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          Had my first experience at Plum last night - here's some images of the Oakland Restaurant Week menu ( $40) The Chicory Salad was a colorful melange of greens/reds with fennel shaving, persimmon and pecorino. The dressing was a tad salty for my taste but the freshness of the treviso/radicchio etc ... did come through. A nice way to start. The parsnip soup was excellent - they bring a bowl with the garnishes in it and then pour the hot soup into the bowl - a creamy consistency with deep mellow parsnip flavor. Satisfying. The bread ( by request) comes on a wood plank with softened(thank you) butter - the bread might be Acme Upstairs? Service was quite good - friendly but not overbearing. We sat at the counter so the time went by quickly - lots of activity to observe. The kitchen is amazingly calm for all the activity. It's a good show.
                                                                          The roast pork came with fall vegetables and squash puree - with a vadouvan (French/Indian spice mix) vinaigrette. The pork was tender and well seasoned ..... with a nice assortment of vegetables and greens to provide a variety of textures and flavors. The meal was capped with Cheesecake in a jar - quince /almond -teeccino crumble. The "cheesecake" had a light airy texture with layers of crunchy topping and bits of deeply flavored fruit - I tasted a cherry. I had already tucked another dessert that impeded my ability to taste this lighter dessert. All in all, a very pleasant evening -

                                                                          2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                          1. re: gordon wing

                                                                            Along with the Restaurant Week menu - we also tried some items off the regular menu: Sardines. Squid and the Dark Chocolate Crunchy dessert. The sardine filets were seared on the flat top and full of briny flavor - nicely paired with potato? puree and some crunchy bread along with some young greens. The squid dish was a mixture of artichoke hearts, citrus, greens, and lentils ....... lots of flavors and textures. Was taken with the Young Carrots - buttery tender carrots with crispy bread crumbs - sitting in a buttery/mustardy ? sauce. The standout dish for me was the Dark chocolate / rosemary ice cream dessert ....... a crunchy topping provided contrast to the rich, dense chocolate which played off the rosemary ice cream and the buttery, caramel, salty flavors that were also present - wow!

                                                                        2. Has anyone popped in to Plum, rather than by reservation? I am curious if we would be able to grab two spots for dinner on a Friday as there are no reservations available in our timeframe, even though early (around 6 p.m.).

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: The Dive

                                                                            We sat at the counter and arrived around 6:30 on a Sunday night - the counter was full all night.
                                                                            Wasn't paying attention to the other seating but when we left at around 8:30 it was still full.

                                                                            1. re: The Dive

                                                                              I tried a few weeks ago and couldn't, even on the late side. The place seemed to fill around 6 on a saturday. We actually came back around 9:30 when we were told tables would come free (desert, since they're so good) and the place was still full. I think they started clearing out closer to 10:30. How full seems to depend a lot on whether there's a show at the fox, other saturday oakland excursion spots.

                                                                            2. They're currently running a five-course prix-fixe for $65. Last night we had clams in some sort of broth? with foam, a mind-boggling carrot dish, sablefish, beef, and goat cheesecake. (They had vegetarian alternatives for the three non-vegetarian courses). Everything was great and it was nice not to have to deal with sharing the sometimes small portions three ways. There were wine pairings offered but we did bottles.

                                                                              Too bad about the backless benches.

                                                                              1. Spectacular new dish last night: green garlic and nettle soup with smoked potatoes, which also had a hint of lemon. Reminded me of the oyster stew, which I wasn't able to order as we didn't get there until they'd switched menus from dinner to late night.

                                                                                Smoked farm egg with asparagus, black trumpet mushrooms, and brioche was tasty though I like the bowl with the sous-vide egg, grains, etc. better.

                                                                                Pâté was great and a bigger portion than the ciccoli I had a while back.

                                                                                Beet salad was tasty but seemed overcomplicated and didn't really grab me. Little gems salad was good.

                                                                                Natural Process Alliance sauvignon blanc, yum.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                  ... smoked farm egg with asparagus .... wow ... what am I supposed to be doing tonight?

                                                                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                    I think that was on the late night menu only. The dinner menu had a simpler dish minus the brioche and egg.

                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                          I slipped in right around 10:30 and got the late night menu. Lots of people walked by from the paramount show, none stopped in. I don't know why they didn't have more deserts: they just had ice cream and the cheesecake in a jar.

                                                                                          Where to start - the nettle soup was excellent. The smoked farm egg was very much a manresa style prep. The yolk itself was a revelation - never have I tasted yolk at that consistency, neither runny nor hard. The small hidden arugula flowers added substantially. The burger itself was fascinating as well. So fatty and interesting - half way to fois gras - but still noticably in the burger camp. If you go there expecting a "hamburger" you'll be disappointed. Oh, and I had the pate too - some of the best I've had in recent memory.

                                                                                          I continue to think they're doing food as interesting and cutting edge as anywhere else today, just in a very low-key way. And the price - we were out the door for about $100, with wine, desert, tip, and comfortably fed. I don't know anywhere else you can get the same quality for that price.

                                                                                          as per rebonga's comments, I believe the food has to be seen "post-structurally", as the waiter said the first time I was there. The menu really isn't an apps-and-mains kind of structure, and should be played with a bit more. Or maybe it's exactly the kind of food and scene I enjoy so much -- one's mileage does vary.

                                                                                2. We ate at plum recently...It was good, a couple of dishes really stood out, the broccoli (sounds like the cauliflower mentioned here) and the egg/grain/turnip bowl. The beef was, fine, not exciting, fish fine, not exciting...wine and beer good, cheesecake in a jar quite good....

                                                                                  In all the meal was good, and fun, but the place is a little full of itself i thought, rather expensive...and the waiter told us, and both tables near us that he didn't think we had ordered enough..which in the end we certainly ordered a bit too much...and I thought that was a bit odd to hear repeated around...getting people to up the quantity...

                                                                                  I would go back, probably for a late bite rather than a full meal...but I was not really blown away...

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: rebonga

                                                                                    I had a similar experience when I went last week. We had a lage party so we had to do a tasting menu which came out to $65/pp. Everything that came out was good, but nothing really blew me away. While there were a lot of plates, everyone really just got 1 bite of food per plate. Nothing really stood out, other than the duck and the cheesecake in the jar. By the time we got back to SF we were still hungry so we ended up feating on some Spices II leftovers!

                                                                                    Spices II
                                                                                    291 6th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                                                    1. re: shellshock24

                                                                                      Huh, the tasting menu we had in February had reasonable servings of five dishes. It was probably my favorite meal of the six or seven I've had there to date.

                                                                                      1. re: shellshock24

                                                                                        I just revisited this thread and I think I need to make a return trip to Plum. It seems like my experience may have been an anomaly (especially in light of the Manresa/Plum comparisons below!)

                                                                                    2. Brunch 10-2 Saturday and Sunday starting this weekend. I'm guessing the corned beef and pork belly hash with slow-cooked eggs, smoked onion, and favas will be awesome. And cocktails starting in July.


                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        Tried the brunch today. Maybe my new favorite brunch. The hash (mentioned above) was as decadent and delicious as you might expect, as was the super-moist cornbread appetizer (served with smoky, caramel-y bacon butter)...but the real stunner was the "french toast casserole" - housemade brioche, an almond crust, the whole thing baked in the oven with stewed/roasted strawberries underneath. My wife ordered this and said it may have been the best french toast she's ever had.

                                                                                        1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                          The hash was good, though it wasn't really hash. The biscuit with egg, ricotta, etc. was good. French toast was great.

                                                                                          1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                            I should add that I thought the prices for brunch were extremely reasonable for what it was. I think brunch at Camino, for instance, comes out to a lot more if you stray away from the small shared-plate items.

                                                                                            A more detailed review, with photos, on the Express blog: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/92510/a...

                                                                                            1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                              The "hash" was a sort of composed dish that included the smoked potatoes (patatas bravas, really) and the "braised bacon" (pork belly), which are also available as sides. So it's probably a good idea to check with the server if you don't want to order things twice.

                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                Do you think the braised pork belly was the same prep as what was in the hash? The slices of pork belly that came in the side order had a distinct Asian flavor profile, which I didn't notice in the hash at all.

                                                                                                1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                  I didn't notice any Asian spices in the "braised bacon." We all thought the pork and potatoes in the "hash" were the same as the side dishes.

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    Hmm. I wonder if you got a different batch. Sichuan peppercorn is a pretty distinctive flavor, and I'm pretty certain that's what I was tasting. Were your potatoes small, halved fingerlings?

                                                                                                    1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                      Some of the potatoes were halved, some of the smaller ones were whole. I thought you were talking about the pork?

                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                        Yeah, the side of braised pork belly. Just asked about the potatoes to see if you'd been served the same thing for the hash.

                                                                                                        Anyway, this is minutiae - point is, we didn't find the extra "braised bacon" to be redundant is all, though we might try a different side next time.

                                                                                              2. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                Yep, I tried that hash and it was amazing, all of the meat was just perfectly cooked and so flavorful, and wow that egg was perfect. I also got a biscuit on the side, and it was great. Can't wait to go back for the french toast.

                                                                                                1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                  The other truly great dish on their brunch menu is their take on biscuits and gravy, which comes with not so much a gravy but a beautiful saute of morels and peas, plus one (or two? I forget) of their beautiful slow-cooked eggs. So good. Worth catching while morels are still in season...

                                                                                                  1. re: abstractpoet

                                                                                                    Ooh, that sounds fantastic. I need to go back for brunch.

                                                                                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                  Have been for brunch twice now. It's my new favorite in the East Bay. Agree with others that the corned beef and pork belly hash, biscuit and gravy with peas and morels, and french toast with strawberries are all outstanding. They also do some nice salads, which for me as always a plus at brunch.

                                                                                                  Very good value for the quality of the food - we spend about $50 for two which is in line with other East Bay brunch spots where the food isn't as good. The wife also loves their house-made vanilla-sassafras soda which is a really nice play on root beer.

                                                                                                  Given the quality and price, can't believe it's not more crowded. I just figure the word hasn't gotten out yet.

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    Not from the cart, I had it at lunch inside and it was good. Had a good portion of pork so that there was some in every bite. I liked the hamburger better, but the prochetta is a good option for lunch on the go.

                                                                                                    1. re: Scott M

                                                                                                      Just a follow-up as I just had the porchetta sandwich at Barbacco and it was better than the one I had at Plum. The Barbacco has big chunks of moist porchetta with a good fat to meat ratio. The sandwich is served warm on a soft ciabatta style roll with a side of pickled veggies and a small salad to counter the richness of the pork. Serviing the sandwich warm really brings out the juices and the richness of the porchetta, but the roll stands up well to the filling.

                                                                                                      The Plum version is not served warm, the porchetta is sliced as opposed to having that pulled pork quality. The bread is not as soft and is more sweet baguette style with a heavier slathering of aioli.

                                                                                                      While the Plum was good, for me the Barbacco version is far superior to Plum.

                                                                                                      Neither version (Barbacco or Plum) had the crispy skin quality mentioned regarding Marin Sun Farms version by 10foot5 below.

                                                                                                      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                                                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                      <repost from another thread>

                                                                                                      Yes, I had one on Wednesday and thought it was very good. I liked the touch of fennel in the topping. The pork was very moist and quite fatty (not a bad thing).

                                                                                                      Not quite as good as the ones from Marin Sun Farms sold at Market Hall (Rockridge) on Saturdays, but good. MSF has that crispy skin that puts it over the top.

                                                                                                      I believe both sandwiches are $9.

                                                                                                    3. Had a braised lamb sandwich for lunch. Ciabatta roll, lamb, goat cheese, pea shoots. Good but so rich and filling that I should not have had the soup I started with. Had a taste of my friend's smoked sausage sandwich, very good. One of the chefs gave us a sample of the porchetta sandwich, that was maybe my favorite of the three.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: sydthekyd

                                                                                                          Cold spring onion, a lighter variation of vichyssoise. Clever garnish of chopped almonds provided a nice textural contrast.

                                                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                          Always good when dining with a friend to agree to split sandwiches if you haven't tried them before. You get the lamb, friend gets the porchetta and you each get half. That way you each hedge your bets.

                                                                                                          1. re: Scott M

                                                                                                            I was happy with my lamb, didn't really want half of the sausage. The sample of the porchetta came after we'd finished.

                                                                                                            The sandwiches were a lot bigger than the ones we had a few months ago. In the future I'd split a sandwich if I wanted to order anything else.

                                                                                                        3. Chef Sean Brock of Husk/ McGrady in South Carolina is cooking at Plum this saturday. 5 course tasting meal. Has anyone tried his food before?

                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: ckshen

                                                                                                            He's one of the best chefs on the East Coast. I'll be there. Here are two excellent recent articles on him:



                                                                                                            I'll also note that Sean is cooking alongside Patterson at Coi on Friday at a much more expensive affair ($275 for an 8-course with wine pairing)

                                                                                                            1. re: ckshen

                                                                                                              That was a great meal. We were sitting at the counter, chef Brock overheard us mooning over the crispy pig ears and gave us a bowl. Best pig ears ever. He said they pressure-cook them, then smoke them, then deep-fry them. They were dressed with some chile and lime, conceptually Mexican but somehow didn't taste Mexican.

                                                                                                              Plum: chilled pea soup with parmesan ice, mint, and radish was as I said below maybe the best soup I've had there. They did that thing where they have a pile of things at the bottom of the bowl and pour the soup over it at the table.

                                                                                                              Plum: eucalyptus smoked potatoes with artichoke, baby shallots and green garlic with stems, and dill on a smear of something like skordalia was one of those carefully assembled assortments. Nice. Couldn't detect eucalyptus.

                                                                                                              Husk: carolina catfish with cornbread purée, field pea & crawfish chowchow, and crispy pig ear, just amazing. The puree and chowchow were both new and unique. Great combination. I'm seriously thinking of a visit to Charleston based just on this one dish.

                                                                                                              Husk: crispy pork shank with samp grits, wild ramps, and asparagus, the samp grits were another new and unique thing. They're dried dent corn (not hominy), hand-pounded, texture was really something special, another reason for a trip. The pork was a deep-fried log, I've had similar preparations at Bocadillos and Incanto.

                                                                                                              Plum: lime custard with gingersnap crumble, blueberries, and condensed milk, somewhat similar to the cheesecake in a jar.

                                                                                                              Fun time, great meal.

                                                                                                              1. re: ckshen

                                                                                                                Did the special Sean Brock tasting menu on Saturday too and have to agree with everyone that it was a really enjoyable experience. Fun also watching Charlie Parker and Sean Brock at work together. This is actually my first time at Plum under Parker's helm and have to say the dishes from Parker were first-rate, and really in line I think with the vision of starting chef Jeremy Fox. Nice creativity with a lot of vegetables in the dishes.

                                                                                                                Brock's contribution to the five-course menu were the two mains and they were both beautifully plated. I agree that his crispy pig ears were the best thing, and I recently had some at SPQR which really doesn't compare in texture to Brock's. But a minor point, I did feel his dishes had a slight sweet tang to it that if toned down a bit might make it seem more balance.

                                                                                                                I did like that Plum's dishes does seem to use pickled items for counter taste, and being a pickle fan I enjoyed anything pickled added to the dish.

                                                                                                                My photos of the food: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/201...

                                                                                                                1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                                                                                                1. re: singleguychef

                                                                                                                  Jeremy Fox was never at Plum -- he bailed before it opened.

                                                                                                              2. Went to Plum for dinner with a large group and tried the entire menu. A very pleasant evening on the whole.


                                                                                                                Foie gras mousse with rhubarb compote

                                                                                                                Sous-vide and raw asparagus with morels and ash

                                                                                                                The chicken dish was great but I'm blanking on what made it so.


                                                                                                                Chickpea and greens pannisse were flavorless and had an unappealing texture

                                                                                                                The little gems salad was not dressed properly. The bites that had the delicious dressing were outstanding; other bites had no dressing whatsoever.

                                                                                                                There was a bit of awkwardness at the end of the meal as our server told us the 16% gratuity was split amongst the entire staff, leaving us in a quandary as far as how mush to tip for his excellent service. We ended up adding 4% more as 20% is our standard.

                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: 10foot5

                                                                                                                  Servers often tip out to other staff, service charge or no. There's no reason for the customer to be concerned about that.

                                                                                                                  Did they not serve the panisse with a dressing / dip? That's seemed an essential part of the dish to me. Sometimes they've added something crunchy (millet?) for a more interesting texture.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                    The panisse was indeed served over a yogurt based (I believe) sauce. Neither the panisse nor the dressing had much flavor, IMO. That dish and the funyon-esque onion strips got the meal off to a shaky start.

                                                                                                                    Both dishes were $3 so it's no big deal. But it did give me a few moments of worry as I was the one who suggested that the group go to Plum. Luckily the anchovies and foie gras showed up next and we were off and running.

                                                                                                                    1. re: 10foot5

                                                                                                                      i beg to differ with the earlier comments. We had dinner at Manresa last week and did the large tasting menu. We had dinner at Plum this evening . Did the 5 course tasting menu with the visiting chef from S. Carolina. No contest. Plum was better.

                                                                                                                      Manresa was pretty but felt like eating a sterile meal. Plum had soul. The food was savory.

                                                                                                                      We left Manresa still feeling a bit hungry. We left Plum with sense of total well being.

                                                                                                                      Manresa: 3.5 hours. Plum: 1.5 hours.

                                                                                                                      Manresa dinner was $800+. Plum was $210.

                                                                                                                      Only complaint: Plum service was inconsistent. What, you didn't get your desert? Opps.

                                                                                                                      Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                                                      320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                                      1. re: kalani77

                                                                                                                        I wonder how much of Plum tonight was Sean Brock. This was basically his menu, dish conception, and execution tonight (I was there too and was blown away - best meal I've had in the Bay Area in quite a while - but I've had his food in Charleston before and this is what he does). It's really hard to tell from this how Plum is on a "normal" evening.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mikeh

                                                                                                                          Brock's dishes were the catfish and shank. The soup, smoked potatoes, and dessert were all 100% Plum, and similar to dishes I've had there on other visits. The chilled pea soup with parmesan ice, mint, and radish might have been best soup I've had there to date.

                                                                                                                          That catfish was one of the best things I've had to eat in the last few years. I want to go to Charleston.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                            Ahh, thanks for pointing out which dishes were by whom. Very surprised about the dessert, as that was basically a "key lime pie in a glass". Outrageously good.

                                                                                                                        2. re: kalani77

                                                                                                                          For me, when Manresa is "on" it is head and shoulders above Plum. The complexity and wit of the dishes simply can't be approached in Plum's setting. For example, a recent memorable Manresa dish was an asparagus soup with four "treasures" - little frozen but melting lumps of different flavors hidden in the soup. Plum had a similar soup at the time, but with one taste hidden inside, and not as much "ah HA!". And I remember an exquisite desert with a hidden, very small albino strawberry - not quite at the same level as cheesecake in a jar. At Manresa I have to Pay Attention - at Plum I can Enjoy.

                                                                                                                          The complexity level of Manresa isn't for everyone. To me it's like Harleys vs Ducatis. Harley has "soul"? Whatever - a Ducati goes 4x faster with precision and grace, using more refined technology. They're just in different leagues.

                                                                                                                          The fact that Plum is even *IN THE RUNNING* means it's a great restaurant with very high price performance. it certainly does have a pleasure and novelty about it, but if I separate the food as much as possible from the surroundings, Manresa is cooking at a higher level. In my opinion. Manresa also tends to be a little inconsistent, which I do find nearly inexcusable at their price point. I'm sure I'll be eating at Plum 3x as much as Manresa over the coming year - Plum is simply a more enjoyable overall package, which is, perhaps, what you're saying too.

                                                                                                                          Manresa Restaurant
                                                                                                                          320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                                                                                                                  2. I've been dying to try Plum, and finally went last night. I have to say, I wasn't all that wowed. I adore Coi, and up until I tried Commis, it was my favorite high end resto in the Bay Area (and I admit that i'm behind - haven't tried a lot of the newer gems i've been hearing about). But Plum didn't hit the same high notes. None of it was bad, it was all just fine. fine isn't bad, but it's not spectacular. Of course, Patterson wasn't cooking (we sat at the bar, which was very cool - loved watching them in action), but i still expected a little more. We had: Duck rillettes, trotters, pea panisses and squash gougeres to start. I had the farm egg entrée and my sister had the halibut.

                                                                                                                    The panisses were good – little fried batons with a tangy sauce, tho I would have preferred them to be a little stiffer in texture. The duck rillettes were fine, just nothing better than any other I’ve had. The trotter with a salad of beautiful greens was very juicy and flavorful, but it was one small patty for I think $10. Not sure on price. The squash gougeres were crispy on the outside, tender inside, very flavorful, but for me lacked a sauce. All their sauces/purees are wonderful, by the way.

                                                                                                                    My farm egg entrée was an artistic (and tasty) delight. On the plate were two mounds of quinoa, a very thick fennel puree, fried squash blossoms, smoky eggplant, sautéed shishitos, thin radish slices, some sprouts of some sort, and then one egg yolk on one of the mounds. The dish had great texture, color, flavor – everything. The only thing was, the egg was only notable for adding creaminess to the dish. You couldn’t really taste the egg flavor. I loved Patterson’s egg at Coi – I remember the fresh flavor of that egg still. Would have liked to taste more of that in this dish. My sister had read somewhere this dish described as “tame”. i don't really agree. I loved the dish and I would get it again.

                                                                                                                    My sister’s fish was overcooked. Not horribly, but overcooked. It was somewhat saved by the romesco quenelle on top, and the beautiful sweet corn puree beneath it. Roasted onion and - maybe okra? -rounded out her dish.

                                                                                                                    Our cocktails were a disappointment. I ordered the Cubano which was tasteless until I stirred it with my fork (shouldn’t have to do that, right?), and then it tasted mostly like a rather subdued mojito, despite containing Lillet, prosecco and I forget what all else. I can’t remember what my sister got, but hers tasted bland to me as well.

                                                                                                                    For dessert we ordered the rocky road ice cream/sorbet/meringue-in-a-jar concoction. It was fine, very chocolate-y, more my sister’s thing than mine.

                                                                                                                    We spent $95 before tax and tip, I believe – and they add 16% to your bill, which is fine, as the service was good and we added more to get to 20%. I think it's a good deal - I left just full enough, not stuffed, but i think others might have left hungry, despite the fact we shared 4 starters, each had an entree, and split a dessert.

                                                                                                                    Maybe it was just an off night. I didn’t dislike it, but have no driving need to go back anytime soon.

                                                                                                                    3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                      They have cocktails now? Is their new bar next door open?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                        yes they do. now that i think of it, i don't believe any of the cocktails were made with hard liquor. i didn't know that next door was theirs - it looked like a wine bar, and i can't remember now if it was open or not.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                          I hope they're not on a downhill trend. The place seems geared toward wine, though.

                                                                                                                          I also hope expectations aren't set too high. It's still a casual place.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                            the wine bar is probably The Punchdown which isn't related to Plum judging from the info on their site.

                                                                                                                            if the bar is going between Bakesale Betty 2 & Plum on the Broadway side of Plum, that was still boarded off last weekend with some ducting supplies visible behind the boards.

                                                                                                                            Edit: just saw this regarding Plum Bar

                                                                                                                            Bakesale Betty
                                                                                                                            2228 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                                                                            2212 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                                                                        2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                          I think your expectations were off.

                                                                                                                          For one thing, Patterson doesn't cook at Plum -- it's run pretty autonomously by the Charlie Parker -- so perhaps you didn't quite understand what kind of restaurant it is. It isn't supposed to be the equivalent of Coi or Commis -- it's a much more casual restaurant serving more casual food in the same general genre.

                                                                                                                          3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                            I don't think there's anything casual about the food at Plum. The environment, yes, though the service is good, especially by East Bay standards.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                              no, i completely understood it was supposed to be more casual or not as "adventurous" as Coi or Commis. I read somewhere that Patterson was cooking at Plum, at least on this one night, but maybe that was awhile ago when it first opened. I wanted to be wowed by flavor, not technique or gimmicks or fanciful plating. Flavors weren't bad at all, just not not out of this world. I don't know if I'm off in comparing it, but after our meal I thought of Pizzaiolo, and how I've had 7 or 8 stellar meals there, perfectly delicious, with only one clunker once. I kind of think Plum and Pizzaiolo are at the same level, but Pizzaiolo, in my opinion, is much better. At least this one night. But I truly don't believe my expectations were off at all.

                                                                                                                              5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                                                                                              3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                                                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                Patterson was there in the early days; I saw him cooking. That was a while ago.

                                                                                                                                Last time I was there, I had an egg that redefined egg. I think about eggs a little differently now. They don't have the level of consistency I'd hope, more like a one-dish-an-evening WOW. I think expectations along the lines of Pizzaiolo is completely in-line.

                                                                                                                                I'll probably be going on friday, I'll let you know if my next experience is similar to the past ones.

                                                                                                                                5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                                                                                                1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                  please do! i am really still quite a fan, and i'll probably check out his jack london place. I have tix to see Patterson & Pepin at City Arts & Lectures in October - yeah! thanks, B