Why Plum? At some point I hope to be able to ask Owner / Chef Daniel Patterson that question, but for now, I will simply speculate. The word Plum to me at first seemed random, disconnected from a concept, until I entered the restaurant. The exquisitely textured walls at first appear black, but on second glance they reveal themselves a deep bloody wine beneath a darker purple, almost black, exterior. The wall treatment, which was hand-stained and then applied to the wall a strip at a time, looks much like the reflection of wine in a dark bottle when held to a strong light, or the skin of — you guessed it — a ripened Plum.
|Chef Patterson oversees finishing|
touches on a dish
Chef Patterson has chosen a dark green ceramic ware to plate many of his simpler dishes, which somehow furthers this feeling of being surrounded by ripening produce. An example is his fabulous Chilled Eggplant Soup, which in addition to the eggplant, contains fresh pole and shelling beans, and a hint of preserved lemon. The result is a refreshingly tangy liquid, whose flavor is enhanced by a creamy texture and a rewarding finish of cilantro. The dark green, earthy quality of the bowl and the vegetable flavors all worked together in unison to produce a successful combination of taste and visual harmony. If we eat with our eyes, then my eyes were approaching a full belly even before I tasted the soup.
Popcorn Escabeche. I gotta say I really liked this one too. Another diner asked how the escabeche powder was made and Chef Patterson responded that it was made from powdered vegetables all prepared with a spice similar to how fish would be spiced with an escabeche powder, and that preparation was then freeze-dried and made into a powder seasoning of its own. This produced a popcorn that had multiple flavors, eating it was a little like finding a surprise in every bite. The seasonings coated each kernel a little differently, producing a variation that made for a little party in my mouth.
|Beets and Onions|
The BH had the Pork Trotter Burger, which I tasted. It was fine. The bun was incredibly soft, fresh made and perhaps my favorite part. The meat was tangy and well seasoned. I had the Lamb Stew which was something along the consistency of oatmeal. Soft and flavorful. It came topped with a toasted bruschetta layered with a tangy vinaigrette, sliced lamb tongue and a tasty spread.
We also sampled the Milk Chocolate Creme with Basil and Pinenuts. It was a lovely bowl with dollops of creamy dark & light chocolate, blended until just firm enough to form plump little tears of puddingy goodness. I'm sure it was formed somehow by the hands of an exquisitely trained staff member with special magic fingers, and then topped with leafy sprinklings of basil and dotted in pinenuts. This dessert was a chocolate lover's delight. Smoothly rich, ultimately satisfying.
|Milk Chocolate Cream with |
Basil & Pinenuts
I enjoyed my visit. The service was fantastic — attentive yet inobtrusive. The food was beautiful to behold and really, really good. There may be some kinks in the early days, as food this labor-intensive requires precision. All new rollouts have an adjustment period, but what I saw was an energetic Chef doing his best to see that every diner had a magnificent experience. Check it out, and bon appetit!
(between Franklin St & Grand Ave)
Oakland, CA 94612
Noise level: 2-3 bells when full
Table size: adequate
Service: excellent, attentive
Note* there is a 16% tip added to every bill -no matter the party size- to ensure that waitstaff is adequately paid. Given the tipping habits of many and the extremely labor intensive food served, it makes sense. One can always bring the tip up to 18%-20% if desired.
Post Script: The chef has answered my question as to the title of the restaurant. It is from William Carlos Williams poem "This is just to say" :
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold