But first, my husband and I paid a brief visit to The Beer Shed, Linden Street's newly revamped tasting room with both indoor and outdoor seating. With the warm summery weather gracing us with its presence, the Beer Shed was filled to capacity with happy hour patrons enjoying beers from Linden Street and other California breweries on tap. After downing a pint of Ale Industries' Rye'd Piper ($5), we were lucky to snag a table right before other hungry diners arrived in full force. (The buzz for their inaugural evening was evident; by the time we left just after 7pm, the wait time was already at two-and-a-half hours.)
As a few teaser photographs of The Dock's dishes had already made the rounds on Twitter, I knew there would be some elegant Asian-fusion fare creations on the menu, which was divided into vegetables, seafood, meat, sundaes and desserts.
We started off with the kohlrabi and hearts of palm salad ($10), a nod to Syhabout's heritage and reminiscent of a classic Thai green papaya salad with sweet-and-sour essence of lime juice, mint and sambal. Garnished with crunchy peanuts and crispy pigs ears' bits (which contributed more contrasting textures than flavors), it pairs well with Linden's New Oakland Glow, a light and lemony session lager (for $5, or get an accompanying shot of rye, bourbon or genever for a few dollars more.)
Next up was the outstanding starter of fried fennel and onion petals ($10). Coated in a tempura batter of black lager and rye flour, the delicate vegetable wisps were accompanied with a creamy trout caviar dip with dill and caraway salt.
While our server noted that its small plates menu was designed to encourage sharing, some were best suited for solo dining. The oyster po' boy with skillet-fried oysters, sorrel, tartar sauce (with a packet of hot sauce on the side) on a buttered roll ($15), while definitely a contender for one of the tastiest versions I've had, it yielded only two small bites apiece once we split the slider-sized sandwich -- which felt a wee bit spendy for this item.
The steamed Manila clams in a savory shoyu broth topped with fresh kimchi, chunks of thick-cut smoky bacon, garlic chives and chrysanthemum was more ideal for two. We regretted not ordering a side of roti ($3) to soak up the spicy soup from the Korean earthenware bowl.
The next two dishes were my personal favorites: falafel waffle with merguez sausage, yogurt, pickled onions and parsley ($13) and the French-inspired poached egg bordelaise with bone marrow vinaigrette and roasted sunchokes and trumpet mushrooms in a cast iron vessel ($13). These unique renditions of familiar favorites were both visually stunning and absolutely delicious.
As nearby residents, we had to try the confection named after our neighborhood, the "West Oakland Tan" ($7): chocolate and vanilla ice cream swirled with real butterscotch syrup, miniature malt balls, fresh whipped cream and a mix of graham crackers and brownies crumbles. And Faction Brewing's Puddy Porter ($5) is great dessert beer to finish off your meal.
With its beautifully appointed space and reclaimed wood interior -- although its relaxed ambiance is occasionally interrupted by the noise from Amtrak trains passing through -- The Dock is a fine addition to Syhabout's family of East Bay restaurants. And the service was impeccable, even with the busy rush of opening night. But while the Dock's food is above and beyond what you'd find at an average bar, so are the prices; be prepared to spend a little more if you want to have a more substantial meal. I recommend diving in with a tapas bar-style mindset for a leisurely moveable feast: stop into the adjacent Campovida tasting room for a glass of wine, sample a few selections at The Dock, then relax with a final beer on The Beer Shed's patio.