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May 16, 2014 09:12 AM

Plum > Ume [Oakland]

Inside Scoop reports Daniel Patterson is pulling the plug on Plum. Starting Tuesday it will have a Japanese-ish menu with prices in line with Plum Bar. Opening chef is Bradley Cooper, most recently of Outerlands, though he has another project in the works.

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  1. I like the food at Plum. too bad it didn't quite work in the neighborhood. Hopefully Ume turns out better.

    1. Sadness but not unexpected.

      1. I not so subtly hinted this was coming. They've lost confidence in their ability to stay afloat with their food. It's fascinating why people will still invest in Patterson restaurants at this point.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sugartoof

          why do you say that? Coi is quite successful and the level of food has always been good there, same for Haven. I'm not a fan personally of Alta CA but that place is always packed when I've been there. Not to mention that his financial backers have money to spare and it's a bit of a vanity project for the ones at Alta CA. I also like that he doing a partnership Kim Alter rather than just making her the ex. chef at a new place. I think it's smart if your concept isn't working out and you have the cash flow to try to reimagine it before shutting down.

          1. re: tjinsf

            Even though Coi was my favorite restaurant in the Bay Area for many years, it is no longer a place I would return to, and my opinions of Haven and Plum are uncertain at best right now.

            I really enjoyed Plum under Charlie Parker and even more so the desserts from Bill Corbett. Once he left and other chefs started rotating through, the food went downhill just slightly and that was enough for me to take my business elsewhere.

            I've had two meals at Haven, both of which were the chef's menu. There were a few successful dishes in each, but each meal included one main course that I did not eat after the first bite. My expectations for restaurants in this price range that serve relatively mainstream food is that it must be solid. There are too many other choices of restaurants in this category for me to want to return. The caveat is that I will try to make it to Haven while Parker is there.

            I love how Coi is constantly doing new things, and introducing diners to new tastes. However during my last visit I had two courses that were so ingredient/technique focused that the dish completely failed. I can appreciate a new way of preparing popcorn, but the dish would have been much better if there were a few more components. I am sure there are plenty of people who will disagree, including the Michelin folks.

            1. re: tjinsf

              I think you're mistaking accolades, and a full dining room with fiscal success though. Speaking of which, Coi hasn't always filled the place up, and it's a very small room. Sure, it can be smart to retool a restaurant and tweak things which aren't working. When you have to remodel your kitchen and dining room yearly, overhaul concepts, and you have a rotating door of chefs - it usually indicates some managerial issues. Patterson doesn't seem capable of hatching a fully realized project. Opening a Izakaya theme smacks of desperation. Sticking a random name chef there that doesn't have a history working with those dishes is curious as well.

              Is Coi successful? By Patterson's own words, it just breaks even and he could never attempt to open something like it today. Saison strikes me as even more ambitious and surviving, so I'm not sure I agree with Patterson, but whatever. Coi has been open like 7 or 8 years now? By that measure, nobody can call it a failure, but it's not sustaining a portfolio of protege restaurants.

              I believe Haven is the only Patterson project currently making a substantial profit. His reputation, business wise, is not very strong, and his office has pretty much been Boyd, and a press person go between.

              I'm not sure what happened to his interest in Il Cane Rosso at the Ferry Building, but maybe we should consider Plum a delayed casualty of the split with Lauren Kiino?

          2. "Daniel Patterson opened Plum in Uptown Oakland in fall 2010. It was his second restaurant, his first follow-up to four-star Coi."

            So the "journalists" at the Inside "Scoop" department of the Chronicle never heard of Babette's in Sonoma which he opened in 1994. Nor of Elisabeth Daniel that he opened with his then wife Elisabeth and that earned him a 28 food rating in the 2001 edition of Zagat, same as perennial Zagat favorite Gary Danko and one notch above the 27 for Boulevard that year.

            So much for food journalism at the Chronicle.

            The Elisabeth Daniel space on Washington St. was a bit awkward and later taken over by Tartare, George Morrone's somewhat short-lived project.

            13 Replies
            1. re: nocharge

              To be fair, Daniel Patterson Group probably wanted to downplay those endeavors for this story. Pretty sure one of those was where Ron Boyd and Kim Alter first worked with Patterson.

              1. re: sugartoof

                "To be fair, Daniel Patterson Group probably wanted to downplay those endeavors for this story."

                And that's some kind of excuse when it comes to journalism?

                1. re: nocharge

                  Journalist? Paolo makes a lot of phone calls to verify things, and gets a lot of quotes, but the rest is pretty much cribbed off press releases.

                  A real journalist would have questioned why they're in expansion mode at the same time Plum failed.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    Paolo Lucchesi has been the best reporter on his beat for years. Sometimes he gets exclusives (like this one) because people trust him to get the story right. Other times he digs up information nobody would put in a press release. That's why the Chron hired him away from Eater.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I think Paolo Lucchesi is doing a good job, generally speaking. But claiming that Coi was Daniel Patterson's first restaurant smacks of ignorance, especially if coming from a food writer at a major newspaper. And all of this stuff is something you could look up in 5 seconds. Between opening Babette's in 1994, opening Elisabeth Daniel, and being the opening chef at Frisson (where I guess you could argue he was just a hired hand. Hired by people with too much dotcom Paypal money and way too much attitude, having gotten lucky, but with way too little common sense.) Only after that did he open Coi.

                      But I guess that kind of stuff is way too hard to figure out for a food writer at a major newspaper writing about a chef at a 2-Michelin-star restaurant.

                      1. re: nocharge

                        PL is perfectly aware of Patterson's resume prior to his opening Coi, he's mentioned those old restaurants in numerous previous articles.

                        He just used "his" loosely to mean Patterson's current places. What Patterson was doing ten years ago is irrelevant to the piece.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I get it. If Larry Ellison starts a new company, something like Netsuite or whatever, and a beat writer at the Chronicle writes an article about it claiming it to be the very first company by LJE because what happened more than ten years ago doesn't really matter, it's the epitome of investigative journalism. He didn't exactly found Oracle? Because of what? RNM? Sorry, but that's not how I think about journalism.

                          1. re: nocharge

                            Clicking "Publish" in WordPress lets a lot of sloppy writing through that would have been caught in the old publishing model of editor, copy editor, and proofreader.

                            Bauer made a similar mistake today: "I originally reviewed [Saison] when it opened in its new spot on Townsend … a little more than a year ago."

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        " because people trust him to get the story right. Other times he digs up information nobody would put in a press release."

                        Can you give some examples of these scoops?

                        The of the moment chefs trust him because he frames things in a good light for them. Put two and two together.

                2. re: nocharge

                  Coi was the first restaurant that was his and only his, so I think it's an OK formulation. The article's about what he's doing next, not a comprehensive biography.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Really? He opens a restaurant with his then wife Elisabeth Ramsey and calls it "Elisabeth Daniel". He gets a 28 (out of 30) Zagat rating for food, which is a pretty nice accomplishment. And that doesn't count as opening a restaurant? Really? Sorry, but claiming that Coi was his his first restaurant just smacks of incompetence and ignorance on part of the Chronicle food "journalists".

                    1. re: nocharge

                      Calm down Elisabeth.


                      I'll be visiting your lovely area this summer and hope this thread will generate some discussion of the food and service. Sounds like the interior space isn't changing much


                  2. I lived around that area for a time and went only twice. The first time Parker was already gone, but I didn't know. Had a delicious tripe stew and a salad for over $30 for a solo brunch, handed to me by Boyd.

                    The second time was under Manfred Wrembel with my wife, a no drinks meal that cost more than $100, which was mixed for me, but a meal which she actively disliked. As someone who reads others opinions instead of trying to discover on my own, I'd say the frequent chef rotation is part of the reason why I did not go more often. Too bad.

                    If price point was the main issue, I'm not sure $17 ramen and rice bowls will do the trick.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Kirk_T

                      the only time we tried Plum was during Wrembel's tenure, we enjoyed the meal enough to return but never did go back before he left; were not motivated to try the next chef. its price point for us put it in 'special occasion' status.

                      1. re: Kirk_T

                        In Plum's final iteration, appetizers were $11-14, entrees $27-30, and desserts $10-11.

                        The Ame menu has eight small plates for $4-7, seven for $8-11, rice bowls and ramen $16-17, and two desserts $3 and $5. That's in line with the prices at Plum Bar next door (which shares the kitchen).