Eating out can add up, so I have to watch how often I dine out. That means when I decide where to go, I end up trying some place new so I can blog about it. But that means I don’t get to return to some of my favorites. Today, I’m launching a new feature called “Back for Seconds” and these are update reviews on places I’ve visited and enjoyed.
Still Pouring Refined Small Bites
UPDATE (2/24/10): This place closed in February 2010 for unknown reasons. Sister Luka's Taproom still open.
2212 Broadway (at 22nd Street south of Grand Avenue), Oakland
Open 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Monday–Friday, from 5:30 p.m. on Saturday
No reservations, major credit cards accepted
Original visit: December 2007
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, my friend Joe and I were looking for a nice place to sip some wine and sit outside. We had just visited Fourth Street in Berkeley so I racked my brains for a place on the East Bay. That’s when I suggested the Franklin Square Wine Bar, not too far from my office in the Lake Merritt/Uptown neighborhood of Oakland.
This small wine bar by the people behind Luka’s Taproom (just across the street on Broadway) has had steady business but not crazy busy probably because of the location. Still, they’ve placed some outdoor seating and I like not having to fight for a table on a Saturday evening.
Joe and I each tried their flight specials. Joe tasted three Pinot Noirs and I had three glasses of red wine from East Bay wineries. For the munchies, we ordered the Burrata Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes and the Saffron Risotto Cake.
The Burrata Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes is a classic summer combo, but I was amazed when it came out. I thought the burrata cheese, which looked like a huge blob, had this unusual beautiful-but-ugly combination. You know what I mean? It was a big blog like some monster, but the plate was so beautifully constructed by the Franklin Square’s kitchen that I thought it was a well-concept plate.
The taste and texture were just as good. The burrata mozzarella was gooey and soft, and blended nicely with the fresh summer heirloom tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt. Like I said, it’s nothing original and a classic summer dish, but still well executed.
The Saffron Risotto Cake is just a fine example of the chef’s knowledge of risotto. I raved about their cauliflower risotto when I first visited, and in subsequent visits I’ve always ordered whichever risotto they’ve had on the menu. This time, the chef took it to another level by making this risotto cake, which is basically risotto that’s been pan-fried into a nice crispy dish. This is a dish many Italians would make at home with their leftover risotto.
The risotto was just simply infused with saffron and beautifully presented with a light arugula salad. Again, a very elegant presentation to a classic dish.
Franklin Square Wine Bar continues to bring a new level of enjoying wine on the East Bay by pairing it with elegant and sophisticated small bites. What better way to spend a beautiful Saturday?
Update experience (previously 3 stars): Still going strong