Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CHOP BAR - Gastropub Chic in the 'Hood

Chop Bar is a recently-opened "Gastropub" located over on 4th Street in Oakland. I'm a native Oaklander and spent much of my youth at my grandfather's Bail Bonds office on 7th Street, so finding this hidden gem in the bowels of my favorite Lady City is cool. It reminds me of places my father took me as a young'un, though this place has a newer, hip young vibe to it. I thought that was apt, like a bit of the old neighborhood reviving and reinventing itself. There were places like this all over when I was a kid. I remember a place called Dahlke's that had a different style, it was a different era, but this place still reminded me of that. It had a simple, genuine neighborhood feel to it.

The walls recall a shipwreck, they are a lovely patchwork of wood, imbued with a coppery green sheen or maybe it was just the touches of brass and copper throughout the room. The room itself opens up into a massive dining area that itself opens directly into an arboretum of sorts with an open-air or "al fresco" dining section. Much of the dining is communal, but there are a few smaller tables lining the walls. The place is reminiscent of a shabby chic New Orleans bar.

Now let's get to the food. We went over the lunch hour and during that time the menu features mostly sandwiches. I started with the Carrot, Tomato and Cilantro Soup. The soup was creamy and exceptionally smooth. I don't know if my new fondness for soup is a result of the new techniques that have allowed chefs to make them with the most amazingly complex & textured consistencies, or if I was always a closet soup fan, ready to be sprung into action by a perfectly riced bowl of tomatos. Whichever is my story, we'll never know, because I'm too busy polishing off all of these bowls of soup. This was no exception. It was delicious.

Next, I got to work on a Classic Reuben. They made it with the most amazing corned beef. It was really balanced in flavor, juicy and moist. The sandwich is a favorite of mine, but often the meat is less than stellar, which is why it is traditionally slathered in melted cheese and sauerkraut. This meat did not need to be hidden, it stood out all on its own.

My BH had a Col. Newsom's Ham & Cheese sandwich. The bread was a lovely, fluffy ciabatta-style bread, with a healthy serving of meat and a lovely slab of Fiscalini cheddar, all melted and swoony, it wrapped itself around the chicken like a hug. He loved it. In fact, we were all so hungry, I didn't remember to take my pictures until the meals were half devoured (sorry), but you can still see the lovely quality of the meats & breads. Not much else to see in a sammy.

Our PFC ordered the Grilled Pork Banh Mi, and he said it was tasty. We all came away thinking this was definitely an establishment to add to our rotation. We would like to have seen more than sandwiches, but from the reviews I've read at Yelp, it's likely that there will be other treats if we make a habit of returning. So for now, this is a definitely check it out. It's a bit tough to find at first, but if you follow their website (a single page, no photo) to their blog, you can check out the pictures and find it on the street when driving by more readily. It is in the warehouse section of Oakland, not far from the Webster Street Tube, so parking is not metered, but there is no lot and it might be hard to find.

Bon Appetit!

Chop Bar
247 4th Street, #111
Oakland, CA 94607
510.834.CHOP (2467)

Table Size: Adequate, mostly communal
Dining Time: Easily out in an hour or less over lunch
Price Range: Reasonble
Noise: None while we were there, but I imagine it can get loud at night during happy hour, it's open space with high ceilings

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