Nido, a relatively new arrival to Oakland's culinary scene, launched their dinner service this past week. Kickstarted into existence earlier this year, Nido (which means 'nest') serves up "farm-to-table" Mexican fare from the husband-and-wife team Silvia and Cory McCollow. Silvia, a former sous chef at Cosecha, melds elements from her Mexican culinary roots with a Bay Area focus on sustainability. The restaurant's decor uses reclaimed materials and reflects the industrial nature of the neighborhood -- sections of shipping containers adorn the walls -- and its ingredients are sourced from local purveyors.
Nido is a little off the beaten path in Jack London Square, and it was a little quiet on the Saturday night that my husband and our friend Aaron stopped in for dinner. We were seated right away by our attentive server at one of the rustic wooden tables in the back of the dining room. Scanning their drink menu, the Flamingo Rosado cocktail ($8) sounded most appealing. As they don't have their full liquor license yet, the drink was made with manzanilla, grapefruit, bitters, agave, ginger beer and mint. It was light and refreshing and served casually in a glass jar.
We started off our meal with the standard platter of chips, guacamole and pico de gallo. The homemade chips were delicious, but the side dishes were a bit scant for the $6 price tag and disappeared quickly between the three of us.
The Quesadillitas Coloraditas, prepared with chile California tortillas, Oaxacan and Cotija cheeses, red onion and cilantro, were up next ($7). They were too deep fried for my taste and seemed saturated with oil, while the accompanying salsa was somewhat on the bland side. The Ensalada Nido, a simple green salad dressed with coconut-habanero vinaigrette, cucumber, apple, avocado and pepitas, was a rather ordinary starter ($8).
While the appetizers were a bit lackluster, Nido's entrees are where they shine. The Pollo Sobado, a generous half-portion of juicy roasted chicken served with escabeche xoconostle-tomatillo salsa, was excellent ($14). The only disappointment was that my friend discovered only one tortilla, instead of the customary three or four, tucked away in the foil packet.
The roasted pork chop, or Chuleta de Puerco, was a succulent cut surrounded by a pool of spicy chile-almond sauce. A slice of roasted squash and scallion garnished the platter, with a sweet corn tamale on the side ($16).
The braised chicken tamales with raisins, chiles and assorted vegetables were a savory delight and paired well with the pomegranate seed green salad ($12).
After dinner, we still had room for some pie from Jaynelle St. Jean's Pietisserie, the neighboring establishment that shares the space. Unable to choose among the evening's specials, we ordered one of each: Okinawan sweet potato, chocolate cream with a pretzel crust and kabocha squash with a chocolate crust ($6/slice). The chocolate cream pie was my personal favorite, as the salty and sweet flavors were a perfect duo.
Despite feeling somewhat underwhelmed by their starters, the excellent service, coupled with a relaxed atmosphere and homey cooking, makes Nido another welcome addition to the neighborhood. I'll make a point to try their brunch in the future and look forward to seeing how their menu evolves over the coming year.
444 Oak St. (btwn 4th & 5th Streets)
Oakland, CA 94607
Hours: CLOSED Mondays
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11am-3pm
Happy Hour: Tuesday-Friday 3pm-6pm
Dinner: Tuesday-Thursday 5:30pm-9:30pm, Friday & Saturday 5:30pm-10:30pm
Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 9am-2pm