The new Chop Bar in Oakland’s Jack London Square looks to be a major neighborhood hangout, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, Robert Lauriston says. Formerly the site of Mono, the new owners have opened up the space and added semi-outdoor seating. The vibe is more luxe hipster hangout than gastropub, says daveena, with lots of reclaimed wood and a stone floor.
The largely locavore menu goes from snacks to big plates, with the main courses in the $12 to $15 range. No word yet on the bizarre (or brilliant?) bacon, garlic, and Parmesan popcorn starter, but the place does well with meats, whether it’s the house-made grilled tri-tip, Fatted Calf charcuterie, or Robert Lauriston’s fave, Colonel Bill Newsom’s “amazing” Kentucky ham. “Looks like prosciutto, taste and texture similar to Iberico but smoky,” he sums up.
“They have some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever tasted,” daveena raves. The grilled tri-tip panino with roasted pasilla peppers, grilled vegetable mojo, and queso ranchero is a creation of “smoky, flavorful meat that melded beautifully with the other components.” The menu is all over the place—reportedly there are two chefs on staff—but daveena says, “I feel pretty confident that anything with grilled or roasted meat should be good.”
abstractpoet agrees that “their roasted pig on flatbread, with a kick-ass condiment spread, was the best thing I tried at the recent Eat Real Festival.” It’s not on the regular menu yet, but worth keeping an eye out for. At a recent dinner, abstractpoet liked the Louisiana shrimp a la diablo, good-sized shrimp with great flavor and nice char. The heat level, on the other hand, wasn’t very devilish–more like the first circle of purgatory. Pork ribs slow-cooked in apple cider have a bit of chew, but in a nice way, and that cider sauce is supertasty. Green beans with capers and garlic are a decent side. Mexican chocolate pudding, on the other hand, is lick-the-bowl good.
A notable feature of the restaurant is its cutting-edge wine-on-tap system, which keeps prices down on wine by the glass. Robert Lauriston tried all five and pronounced them good values. (abstractpoet’s red Rhône blend was $6.) He also approved of the four local beers on tap.
Grubbjunkie, however, was underwhelmed by the Kentucky ham-and-cheese panino—it’s tasty, but basic. “And the side green salad was sort of a sad joke,” just “four small pieces of lettuce with a few diced tomatoes in a very salty vinaigrette.” Still, with Chop Bar’s cool space and friendly service, Grubbjunkie is prepared to give it another shot.
Chop Bar [East Bay]
247 Fourth St. #111, Oakland