Wood Tavern B+ [Oakland]
Good but not perfect meal @ Wood Tavern.
The noise level was impossibly loud. We thought it would get quieter as the evening wore on (we had a late-ish res.), but there was a brief dip and then a rise again. Couldn't hear each other to have a conversation. And just plain unpleasant.
Wine selection was good. The bread and butter were, as always, great.
Long wait for first course..
My little Gem salad was, as always, brilliantly conceived--leaves of lettuce, chunks of avocado, slivers of fennel, and sections of satsuma. But the avocado was a tad over-ripe, such that the texture was almost mushy. And the seasoning on the dressing was understated and flat. My husband really liked his scallop crudo. The bite I had of his, I thought, was a bit too acidic.
Mains. Again, my husband really liked the bouillabaisse. And my pork chop was good, but not great. A gorgeous piece of meat, thick and enormous. But unevenly cooked, such that most of it was a shade over-done (could have stood to spend 30 seconds less under the flame), And a more serious mistake: the part next to the bone was raw. The server came by to check, just as I came upon the raw section. I mentioned it; and she offered to take it back to cook a little more, but I hesitated, since I didn't want the done pieces to be over-done and figured it was such a big portion, I'd just not eat the raw parts. Not a good choice on my part, having the raw section on my plate the whole time. In addition to the cooking time, the seasoning was again a little off, this time in the too-salty direction..
Ice cream for dessert was very good: a lovely Earl Gray tea flavor and a second scoop of vanilla chocolate chip (my husband, who's not a vanilla fan, wished it were more chocolate-y, but I thought the balance was right).
The service was mostly very good. At the end of the evening, our server disappeared (it wasn't that the service suffered--new folks brought dessert and settled our bill).
I had the bouillabaisse last night. The broth was fantastic, as good as any I've had in France. The shellfish and fish were impeccable but paled by comparison. A+.
Got there around 9, the place was almost full with a few parties waiting, noisy but no problem conversing.
re: Diving Chef
So this bumps us to a conversation bigger (meatier? bonier?) than a pork chop....
You're absolutely right that that kind of uneven-ness happens with some regularity in my home kitchen--although I'm no slouch at the stove, I'm no professional either.
But when I go to a nice restaurant--and I would think that the chef @ a really good place like Wood Tavern would be the first to agree--I expect them to nail the details that elude the likes of me and nail them with consistency, every single time.