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Plum Bar

By   /   April 9, 2012  /   No Comments

Plum Bar, 2216 Broadway, (at Grand Avenue) Oakland; 510 444-7586;

A lineage of chefs with direct or indirect connection to Chez Panisse pretty much colonized Oakland in the last decade, among them Dopo, Adesso, Camino, Pizzaiola and Boot and Shoe Service–that is until Daniel Patterson moved to Oakland.

Patterson, creator of the innovative Coi in San Francisco and Il Cane Rosso, a market kitchen in the Ferry Building, now has firmly planted the Daniel Patterson Group flag in the East Bay, with cutting edge if moderately priced Plum, and adjacent Plum Bar. Both are block from the sumptuously restored art deco Paramount Theatre.  And, Haven has just opened in Jack London Square.  All are destinations in their own right,  but I found myself at Plum Bar last week out of convenience, during a dinner break in the 5 1/2 hour screening of the epic silent film Napoleon.

Patterson’s sensibility is as distinct as Alice Waters. They both kneel at the altar of local ingredients, but Waters prefers cooking them traditionally to make them taste better than anyone could imagine; while Patterson is drawn to new techniques, playfulness and surprise to explore their nature.  He reaches further into the pantry for scents and spices to make his point. But, you always know what you’re eating. Patterson’s cooking never loses its soul. It’s grounded.

At Plum Bar, he applies this vision to cocktails and bar food, served in an airy room with a high, unfinished wood ceiling and polished wood floors and furnishings. The expansive walls are papered with varnished pages of poetry. Votives twinkle in a structure that descends from the ceiling over the bar.  Music is a presence. Typical of Patterson, the decor is both modern and warm.

For a stylish bite, drink, or meeting place in the East Bay, Plum Bar is a good address to know.

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