Occupation: Senior Science Editor
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Chop Bar
Reviewed Chop Bar: Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I have to confess, the reason I was drawn to Chop Bar in Oakland’s busy, industrial waterfront area was not so much its reliable, good food. It wasn’t even the helpful service, which usually comes with a smile and lots of tattoos. The first thing that got me was the wine list. I often look for a wide choice of good, local wines by the glass and if it is there on draft, so much the better.
Chop Bar uses an innovative wine on tap system that is filled by local wineries. This allows the customer to get a fresh glass of local wine at a price not much different than a beer. But beer lovers don’t fear, there are lots of local draft choices on tap, too.
This West Oakland eatery seems to unite a disparate community of condos and warehouses, serving as a gathering place for a good cup of coffee in the morning with maybe, my favorite, a serving of baked eggs with tomato and pepper sauce or a glass of wine and a burger after work.
This past Tuesday three friends joined me for dinner. We sat at an open air, communal table. I had a tart, delicious, seven-dollar glass of Periscope Cellars’ Carignane on tap, made just a few miles away in Emeryville. Another friend had a Miner Viognier on tap for nine dollars which was bright and lush. Still another friend had a basil gimlet, which she raved about. It looked delicious.
I had the meat loaf with garlic mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts. The meatloaf was delicious -- crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside and covered in a light, ham gravy. The potatoes and the caramelized, but crisp, Brussels sprouts were also very good. One of my dining companions had the King salmon. It was served with English peas, baby carrots, roasted potatoes and spring onion salsa Verde. I was told that it was melt in your mouth good but could have been warmer. My other friends had different takes on the burger. One thought it was a bit too dry while the other really enjoyed it and thought it was so wet she had to use a knife and fork.
We shared a butterscotch pudding with whipped cream, which was good. I liked the cocoa nibs on top. All of my friends agreed they would be repeat customers.
If I lived in a loft around the corner I would probably be at Chop Bar night and day.
Occupation: News Anchor
Location: Los Altos
Favorite Restaurant: Roti Indian Bistro
Reviewed Chop Bar: Saturday, May 26, 2012
Vibe: I love the vibe of this place. Hipster, unique and lively. Rarely do I venture into Jack London Square, so it was a fun experience for us. It’s busy and fairly cramped. Not quiet, but not annoyingly loud either. We went on a Saturday night; parking was not a problem.
Food: Kind of all over the map. We were a group of 4, which allowed us to sample and share several dishes (which I love doing). We loved the mussels. Seems like a ho-hum selection, but the flavor was through the roof. The Chop Burger was also excellent. We ordered the Oxtail Poutine (who serves oxtail poutine in the Bay Area?). Fun dish. We were disappointed with the Slow Roasted Pork Ribs; flavor and quality seemed flat.
The cocktails are a must. Hand crafted and creative. We tried the Hot for Teacher (tequila based) and Don’t Stop Believing (gin based).
Service was excellent. Not white tablecloth Gary Danko, but attentive and genuine.
One MAJOR thing to keep in mind: they do NOT accept reservations for parties less than 6 people. That’s a drag if you have a tight schedule.
Overall, I look forward to going back!
Occupation: Journalist / Program Host
Favorite Restaurant: Park Tavern
Reviewed Chop Bar: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
One of my favorite things about this restaurant is the cozy feel. Weathered wood panels on the wall, dark thick wood tables, and a long communal table all add up to a relaxing feel. This is comfort food at its best. The local king salmon entrée was very tasty—the fish was delicately flaky, had good flavor without being too “fishy.” The peas, carrots, and onions that came with it were perfect accompaniments.
I also tried my friend’s pork confit. It was another winner. The pork was tender with good flavor and it rested on a bed of heavenly, creamy polenta. The greens, beets, and other vegetables in my spring salad appetizer were all very fresh, but the entire dish was a bit bland. It could have used a little more dressing.
One of the highlights here is the bar, which turns out some amazing drinks. I had the basil gimlet with cucumber vodka, basil, and lime juice. Would have ordered a second one, but I had to drive home!