The Barrel Room, Oakland (College Ave.)
Months ago, I was happy to learn that the Barrel Room in SF was going to open an Oakland outpost. The SF location is a small lounge-type location, with a limited (but tasty) food selection. Oakland is a new ballgame, food-wise, with the same general wine program.
Wine is by flights (many to choose from), by the glass, and by the bottle, with retail sale. It is quite the eclectic mix, with something to please pretty much any palate, and good guidance to steer you there. For our first visit, we went on a splurge-type night.
We started with dates stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts,
wrapped in pancetta and roasted. Delicious! One flight of bubbles, and one flight of southern French whites.
We then went to round two, which consisted of brandade of wild alaskan cod, cream, and potato with toasts (very good) along with say
hey farms escarole salad with apples, walnuts, and blue cheese (the only disappointing item of the evening - it is possible that the cod overwhelmed the salad, but the only notable taste was the blue cheese). Our round two flights were Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays.
Enjoying the evening, it was time for round three. The "mains" were porc aux pruneaux, and cassoulet with duck confit, toulouse
sausage, pork and white beans. My little piggy was excellent. I didn't try the cassoulet (as I despise duck) but that plate was cleaned to the last drop. We also had some side vegetables. The final round flights were Funky Reds and Big Reds.
Overall, the food was very good. Plates were on the smaller side, although the main plates were a decent size. The wine was a lot of fun - not a bad drop, and a lot of obscure and interesting varieties. We tried 18 different wines (3 flights of 3 x 2 - although I believe one wine overlapped between the 2). Wine pours on the flights were decent - each flight was probably the equivalent of a generous pour of a wine by the glass.
Value? For what we did, I think so. The bill for 2 was $170 (before tip) but we had 18 pours of wine, had 6 or so menu items, and enjoyed ourselves. I can see future visits consisting of a flight followed by a glass, or just a glass with a snack ... or a full meal again. The menu and the list can be all things to all people. There are apparently going to be rotating themes and menus throughout the year.
The place was packed.