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Dinner at B Restaurant, downtown Oakland

susancinsf | Nov 9, 2005 11:51 PM

My son and I were looking for a place to meet for dinner tonight, fairly close to my office...it seems like we always get together at Luka's, but I was in the mood for some place new. So we decided to meet at B, at the corner of Ninth and Washington.

Bottom line: though the food wasn't bad, I wished we had gone to Luka's. B isn't a good value, and I wouldn't be in any rush to return.

Ambiance: the room is attractive, with high ceilings, a semi-open kitchen, and walls of windows overlooking the street and some nice outdoor tables (not in use on this drizzly night), in the building that I think used to house the OakTown Cafe. We were the only ones dining at six pm, and were shown to a very nice two-top by the windows against the back wall. Unfortunately, the banquette on the wall side had no back and was rather uncomfortable.

The menu is divided into salads, other appetizers, small plates and (so-called) larger plates.

we started with six assorted oysters on the half shell. ($9). The vinagrette was fairly ordinary, but the oysters were fresh and good. We also shared an order of baby sauteed baby artichokes. Tasty, but only five tiny artichokes, for $7.

We checked out the wine list,which is fairly short, but has some interesting selections by the glass. Unfortunately, pours were not very generous...

which set the bar for our main courses. My son had tri-tip, served with mashed potatoes, a few slivers of roasted red pepper, and a half a grilled tomato. I did a double take when the plate came out: was this really the main, or had they brought the small plate of tri-tip by mistake? That said, son enjoyed it. I thought the tri-tip was average (certainly no better than the tri-tip hubby made for me at home last night), although the potatoes were tasty.

I had the crab cakes: mostly crab, without a lot of filler, but there were literally only two cakes, each no more than about 2 inches in diameter. These were without a doubt the smallest crab cakes I've ever been served other than from a passed appetizer tray! Each was plated on what I think was described as a fried green tomato slice, although they could just as well have been corn cakes; I could taste corn meal but not much else.

We were never offered bread, and after these small offerings, we were both still hungry. Dessert was in order. Son ordered their signature warm walnut and Bourbon bread pudding. I must admit, it was delicious, and too rich for him to finish without a bit of help from me.

Since I felt I really hadn't yet had enough sustainance to call my meal dinner, I ordered the cheese plate. It was described as three artisanal cheeses with a little honey 'from the farmer's market'.

Although our other dishes had been brought promptly,there was quite a bit of delay to get our desserts, probably because the place was starting to fill up, dominated by a group of 20 conventioneers at the center table. When our server eventually brought the cheese plate she dropped it on the table and took off too quickly to get her to describe the offerings. But surprise: the cheese plate was huge: very generous portions, served at proper temperature, with four or five slices of thick wheat bread., some apple,and the cheeses. No honey in sight, but at least I got some calories.

Until the conventioneers took the place over service was friendly and reasonably prompt. Afterwards we were pretty much ignored. It took 10 minutes to get a check and another 10, at least, to convince them to take my credit card.

Total cost for oysters, one app, two mains, dessert, cheese plate, two small glasses of wine, and a glass of Sierra Nevada ale, with tax and tip: $110. Thanks to the cheese, we didn't leave hungry, but we were somewhat disatisfied.

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