Wood Tavern, Best Restaurant in the East Bay
Well I’ve been to Wood Tavern (6317 College Avenue, Oakland, CA) three times now, and after each visit I keep telling myself that I’m going to write up a blog post on the restaurant. I don’t do as many restaurant write ups as I used to, but after eating there three times I just have to write it up. If you want to skip the majority of the review just take away this one point:
Wood Tavern is by far the *best* restaurant in the East Bay. Better than more expensive places like Alice Water’s Chez Panisse. Better than Bay Wolf or Jojo or Dopo or any of the other new up and comers.
The restaurant already is gaining a strong reputation as one of the new great restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Francisco Chronicle gave it a strong write up here. The Examiner had similarly positive things to say here. The blog Gastronomie called it their new favorite restaurant. And already it’s packed every evening. Reservations are booked out well into the future, but the bar seats first come first serve and the bar is actually, in my opinion, the best place to eat in the restaurant.
To start with the atmosphere at Wood Tavern is casual warm and cozy like a big family living room. Dark wood accents an open air kitchen where you can watch Chef Maximilian DiMare prepare the evening meals while you wait to be served. The bar makes excellent cocktails and has some great beers on tap to bide you over while you’re waiting for your seat at the bar or for the food that you’ve ordered.
Speaking of the bar, this is the best place to eat at the restaurant. The bar gives you plenty of space and you have ample room to enjoy your meal side by side with someone else (in my case my wife, who loves the restaurant as much as I do). The bartender/waiters who work the bar are friendly and informative and give you the inside scoop on the best new items on the menu which changes frequently.
There are a couple of consistent regular dishes that I’d heartily recommend from the menu. The Grilled Double Cut pork chop is to die for and the Wicked Good Seafood Stew is also top rate. They also do a number of different versions of salads with poached eggs which are also fantastic.
Wood Tavern also has some great cheese plates and even better desserts. I’ve had both the warm chocolate cake (pictured above) as well as the Southie Affogato and both seriously rock.
The service at Wood Tavern also is fantastic. A large staff works the small venue and take great care to ensure that every detail is just as you like it. From the hostess to the waitresses to the bartenders to the owners, Rich & Rebekah Wood (who seemed to be working there on every visit we’ve had so far) everyone is fun, nice and pleasant adding to the family like feel of the whole experience.
Best of all, Wood Tavern’s prices are reasonable for a restaurant of its caliber. You’ll spend much less than you would at the more expensive Chez Panisse while getting a better meal.
After only three meals at Wood Tavern my wife and I are already regulars. We’ll be back again and again. We’ve tried most every highly regarded restaurant in the East Bay (where we live) and this one feels (and tastes) best of all.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, or find yourself over in the East Bay for a visit in the near future, do yourself a favor and check out this gem in Oakland.