I skilled a quick second of panic after I took my first chunk of beef tartare at Pomet, the anticipated new “neighborhood restaurant” on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue.
The flavour of the cubed beef—soy sauce, sesame oil—made me consider ahi tuna poke. Then I appeared down and noticed what seemed to be chopped onions. Wait a minute, I believed. Simply what the heck am I consuming right here?
It was, the truth is, beef tartare—Stemple Creek Ranch beef, to be actual. And it turned out that the “onions” have been truly diced and julienned Niitaka Asian pears sourced from proprietor Aomboon Deasy’s household farm, Ok and J Orchards. Buttery pine nuts had been swapped for poke’s normal macadamia, whereas boiled egg yolk had been shaved on high (slightly than blended in uncooked to bind the meat as is widespread in tartare).
Then there have been the skinny slabs of buckwheat-nori cracker angled dramatically out of the dish like items of slate. This was not, I spotted, going to be the eating expertise I anticipated.
The plan, at the very least in accordance with the prelaunch press I’d been despatched, was to supply a “neighborhood-friendly menu of seasonal California-inspired dishes” that orbits round merchandise from Ok and J and different unbiased native farms and ranches. Provided that origin story, I anticipated one thing akin to Chez Panisse lite—easy, ingredient-driven Cal-French-Italian requirements. The truth is way extra nuanced and attention-grabbing, a culinary curveball known as by Deasy when she determined to herald Alan Hsu as government chef. The Oakland-raised Taiwanese American brings a pronounced Asian tilt to the menu, which is dotted with components like gochujang, nori, and Shaoxing rice wine. (Deasy’s mom, Ok and J cofounder Kalayada Ammatya, was born and raised in Thailand.) Much more noticeable is Hsu’s pedigreed background at locations like San Francisco’s three-Michelin-starred Benu and the two-Michelin-starred Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York. These are two of probably the most acclaimed and gastronomically experimental eating places within the nation, and that thoughtfulness, creativity, and complexity permeate the menu. Pomet, in different phrases, carries ambitions effectively past a typical neighborhood restaurant.
Relying in your expectations—an off-the-cuff, reasonably priced evening out versus one thing extra experiential and spendy—that may be exhilarating or irritating. I fell largely within the former class (although can sympathize with the latter). The roasted Star Route carrots are a must-try among the many starters, significantly you probably have a candy tooth. The kitchen leaned into the wooden oven–roasted root veggie’s pure sweetness by layering in a drizzle of honey and remarkably juicy, practically candy-like roast dates. It’s a splendidly decadent, aromatic dish that whisked me again to a (prekids) trip in Morocco years in the past. The scallion and sesame seed roll doesn’t sound like a lot, however reveals an impossibly gentle, pillowy crumb with only a trace of mochi-like chewiness. Every chunk was permeated with a scallion essence that reminded my spouse of her childhood and the scallion pancakes she adored rising up within the avenues of San Francisco. This actually is meals that takes you locations.
On the irritating finish was the charred Brokaw avocado. A calmly seared varietal sourced from boutique avocado farmer Brokaw Ranch was joined by chilled trout, cuts of orange, and a dusting of nori flakes and salmon roe. Sadly, the citrus overpowered the avocado’s delicate, nutty creaminess. Extra obtrusive was the portion measurement: Organized in 1 / 4 moon that left three-fourths of the plate empty, the dish felt meager for the $18 price ticket. The cured Bodega rockfish is offered at a extra palatable $10. Nevertheless, the skinny sashimi-style reduce of translucent flesh, embellished with lime, ribbons of fermented radish, sliced chili pepper, and three tiny sprouts of lemon verbena, comes off as overly treasured. Then again, the fried Zuckerman Household Farms potatoes are unreservedly superior, deep-fried crispy to the sting of burnt on the surface, mashed potato–stage creamy on the within, and served with a wonderful home made ranch dressing speckled with herbs.
If there’s one space by which Pomet excels it’s the pastas—maybe as a result of Hsu can go wild creatively whereas leaning on the dish’s inherent heartiness. The Ugly Mushroom Stuffed Pasta arrives filled with a delicate honeynut squash miso that’s bathed with butter and bulked up by earthy sautéed mushrooms and crispy fried miso on high.
My favourite dish on the menu, nevertheless, is the lamb neck noodles. Effortlessly mixing Japanese and Western parts, the dish options thick, chewy noodles nested round uber-rich items of lamb neck marinated Chinese language stir-fry–model in tangy rice wine to velvety, pull-apart tenderness. Gently sautéed bitter greens and a high layer of shaved parmesan full what could also be Pomet’s first signature dish.
Within the mains part, the quick rib featured aged Stemple Ranch beef that’s cooked and sliced like a typical filet however then served beside the gelatinous tendon, cooked all the way down to chewy succulence, that related it to the bone—which itself is offered on the plate as if to remind diners the place the meat got here from. This “deconstructed” quick rib is served with slow-roasted broccolini on a mattress of koji-fermented rice (mimicking potato puree) with a streak of chili oil. It’s a firecracker of a dish that’s executed flawlessly. It’s additionally the sort of extremely cerebral presentation that you just would possibly count on in a Michelin-starred restaurant—and at $45 feels steep for simply 4 to 5 slices of beef, regardless of the culinary theatrics surrounding it.
For different mains, the beneficiant black cod is extra conventional, smoked to good buttery moistness with a scrumptious syrupy Japanese-inspired glaze and served over a lightweight sunchoke puree with juicy roasted sections of that very same sunchoke. Paradoxically, the undercooked turnips have been the least spectacular side of the coal-roasted turnip entrée, which in any other case superbly blended intricately ready and flavor-packed veggies—shaved asparagus, fava beans, mushrooms, chives—atop toasty rice porridge.
For dessert, I’d advocate the Shinko Snow that includes Hawaiian-style shaved ice infused with the Asian pear’s candy tropical taste and accented by flakes of the sharply distinctive Japanese herb shiso. It’s a stunning, easy, refreshing preparation that comes as considerably of a aid after the extreme fare that got here earlier than. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. pomet-oakland.com.