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Nov 10, 2011 09:34 AM

Plum Bar - Oakland

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  1. I went to opening night and enjoyed it. The decor is cool and minimalist. There are tiny little booths on one side which fit two comfortably and four in a squeeze. I sat at the front so didn't see what the seating was like in the back but I thought I saw a table back there when I walked in.

    The cocktails were very good. Which they should be considering their price ($11 a piece I think, at least for the specialty cocktails). I had a margarita made with pineapple guava. It was quite bitter but I liked the flavors. My companions got two of the other local, seasonal specialty drinks and both enjoyed theirs. I tasted them all and they were all delicious but tended to be on the bitter side (not sweet at all).

    We also got the quinoa fritters which were sort of like steak cut fries made of quinoa each on a little lettuce leaf with some aioli. They were great. We also had the grilled cheese which was solid - made on rye bread and nicely cheesy and buttery. It came with a side salad which was good but a little too salty for me (and I like salt). We also had the smoked fries which were savory and apparently tasted like bacon (according to my meat-eating partner). And some crispy onion things which were described to us as high end funyons and had the same smoked flavoring as the fries.

    They have a small but great list of beers. I had the Linden Street Brewery Lager and my partner had the IPA. They also have a few wines on tap (I think they had three white and three red).

    The one downside was that they were still working out some kinks with the ordering system and our food and drinks came at inconsistent rates (some of us were served round two of drinks before another even got his first round) and we ended up not getting everything we ordered (though we weren't charged for it either). I am hoping that'll be worked out because overall I really enjoyed the food and drink and it's a convenient location for me on my way home from Bart.

    Linden Street Brewery
    95 Linden St #7, Oakland, CA 94607

    Plum Bar
    2216 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

    1. I finally tried this place, other times I've looked it it's been full or too loud. It was about 85% full. Classic 70s funk on the stereo.

      Chicharrones ($5) were excellent, good portion, came with a great hot sauce. Pork terrine ($8), good portion, yummy. Jar of various housemade pickles ($5), delicious, huge portion (a whole pint jar). Some of the best and best-priced bar snacks ever.

      I had a barrel-aged cocktail, I forget the name, included Averna and reminded me of a black Manhattan, very good. After that I asked the bartender to make me something that would go well with my snacks and she gave me something of her own invention with mezcal, Amaro Montenegro, and a couple of kinds of bitters, so good I ordered another.

      1. Had another order of the chicharrones. That is a great value.

        Music was kind of annoying. Not too loud, just boring.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I've started making Plum Bar a semi-regular stop on my way home from work in the evening. An order of chicharrones and the Linden Street Burning Oak they have on tap now is my favorite snack. I sometimes get pickles to go as well--they are going to (slowly) bankrupt me. The staff is fantastic.

          1. re: lakemerritter

            The bartenders are especially friendly and welcoming.

        2. Finally got around to dropping by and found that I really liked PB. Very relaxed vibe, good place for grownups who want a place to have a bite and drink but not a scene. Conversation very possible. Lots of seating around the bar and in little booth/tables. They're doing the most extensive barrel-aged cocktail program that I'm aware of in the BA. One side of the drinks menu is devoted to them (the actual menu is longer than what's listed online). Tried the Carrot Mule and an aged tequila drink, both very good. Cocktails are crafted with care and well balanced, a la Camino which is a top cocktail place for me. Food comes from Plum kitchen but portions are a bit irregular. Smoked paprika fries for $4 was a heaping basket. Great doused with house "hot" sauce that has more flavor than heat. Falafel flatbread on the small-medium size. They have a $22 burger-fries-whiskey-beer special that caught my eye.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rubadubgdub

            Plum Bar won't let me take the pickles to go anymore, but I still visit a lot. Sad times last night when I tried to stop in and they had been taken over by a private Pandora party.

            Picán welcomed me with open arms. They have Port Brewing's Wipeout IPA on tap--hit the spot and I'm looking forward to trying the food over there.

            If you like paprika fries, the ones at Sidebar are really good as well. Very similar; it's hard to pick a favorite from the two.

          2. Stopped in for a late Friday evening (~9:30) meal after a very long flight. We were looking for a clean, but flavorful meal and Plum Bar delivered for us.

            Butter beans and Kale with herbed bread crumbs -- is listed under soups/salads and is a little bit brothy. Nice and light.

            Top ramen -- one order with the chicken, which is more like a panko-crusted chicken tender, not karaage. Suited us for this particular evening. Tofu was "agedashi style", but the tofu itself was centimeter cubes, not the larger cubes you'd typically see in agedashi apps, cold (!), and no bonito flake in evidence. Submerging the tofu in the ponzu broth warmed it up and it became edible, even tasty. I would never get these dishes to fill a ramen craving, but it worked for us for this particular evening. Lots of veggies in the ramen (particularly red cabbage, kind of looked like someone chopped veggies for a cole slaw but stuck it in soup instead). So, again, the ramen dishes fulfilled a need, but I probably would not order these again.

            Dessert was a really good Rocky Road sundae -- a twist of vanilla and chocolate soft serve with candied walnuts, homemade marshmallows, and tiny malt balls. Loved it.

            We would really like to go back for the aged beef cheeseburger sometime when we haven't just spent 8 hours on a plane.