The warm Homestead on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue is among the restaurants playing with fire – that is, cooking all their dishes over a wood-fueled flame, typically in a brick oven.

Mastering the fire can be tricky since heat can be inconsistent, but when done right you have a meal rich in flavor and color. It’s like getting that great char on the grill at home.

Homestead, opened last year by chef/owners Fred and Elizabeth Sassen, has created some buzz for its Mediterranean-inspired, fire-cooked dishes and limited menu reflecting the sourcing of sustainable and local ingredients.

Exhibition Kitchen
Similar to Camino, not too far away in Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood, Homestead has a large open kitchen that runs the length of the space. It create a nice, cozy setting and provides diners with a dinner show as everything is done at the counter, including prepping ingredients and breaking down whole animals.

Kampachi crudo served Korean-style with spicy sauce, kim chi and lettuce cups, $12

Kampachi crudo served Korean-style with spicy sauce, kim chi and lettuce cups, $12

I went for dinner recently, and while reservations are recommended, I was able to grab a seat at the four-seat “chef’s counter.” Ironically, the chef’s counter is off to the side of the long kitchen counter, and you really spend most of the time watching the servers getting drinks or tallying the bill.

The menu is broken into four sections (first, second, third and sides) with just a few options under each category. They include several familiar items like lasagna, mussels and grilled brick chicken, and several items include Mediterranean spices like harissa.

Simple Menu
The only oddball was the kampachi crudo, $12, which has a Korean touch with kim chi and spicy sauce (very spicy, BTW) that’s served with lettuce cups. The kampachi itself was served plain, sashimi style. I think I would have just enjoyed the crudo without all the accoutrements.

Meat from the pit shine like the lamb dish ($24), served with chickpeas and tapenade. The lamb was simply seasoned, taking most of its flavor from the char of the fire. For a side, I ordered the rosti potatoes, which reminded me a lot of Jewish latkes or shredded potato pancakes. While tasty, I thought the edges could have been crispier. Maybe it sat too long in the crème fraiche.

For dessert, I was intrigued by the baba, which was described as a brandy-soaked cake. The cake came out beautifully plated with cooked rhubarb and pistachio ice cream. But the cake itself was on the dry side, surprising since it supposedly was soaking in brandy.

The Last Bite
Service is welcoming, which gives Homestead a real feel like you’re going to someone’s home for dinner. The fire-cooked dishes offer interesting twists and turns, reflecting a creative approach to a style of cooking that attempts to highlight the integrity of local ingredients.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps

2.5snaps

 

 

Homestead, 4029 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. PH: 510.420.6962. Open dinner, Tues.–Sat., from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. homesteadoakland.com

Homestead on Urbanspoon

Chefs working along the long open kitchen counter. I got a side view from the "chef's counter."

Chefs working along the long open kitchen counter. I got a side view from the “chef’s counter.”

Lamb roasted over the fire with loin served in thin slices and ribs roasted to a char, with chickpeas, spinach and tapenade, $24
Lamb roasted over the fire with loin served in thin slices and ribs roasted to a char, with chickpeas, spinach and tapenade, $24

Side of rosti potatoes and salsify crème fraiche, $6

Side of rosti potatoes and salsify crème fraiche, $6

Brandied baba cake with pistachio ice cream and rhubard, $7

Brandied baba cake with pistachio ice cream and rhubard, $7

Homestead is a warm spot on Piedmont Avenue

Homestead is a warm spot on Piedmont Avenue

 

7 Responses to Review of Homestead in Oakland

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    That lamb looks pretty darn enticing. Yes, male chefs sure do like to play with fire these days. You think it’s a trend that’s here to stay?

    • Ben Ben says:

      It’s just inherent in men to play with fire! That’s why they like grilling. I wonder if it’ll stay. I think it’s challenging for many, so we’ll see.

  2. Tara says:

    Jeez, I need to come to the East Bay to eat. Sometimes I come to your blog to see where I should go and then get sad when I see a review in Oakland because everything looks amazing. I feel like I am missing a lot by standing in my comfort bubble, but there is still so much to try here!

  3. Brenda Ton says:

    I love this place & visit 1x every two months or so. Loved hearing your experience.

  4. Sandy says:

    That lamb looks so good, but it’s a shame that the potatoes weren’t crisp, by the looks of them they were so browned they should have been downright crunchy! The rhubard looks like the sliced ginger on a sushi plate

    • Ben Ben says:

      The rhubard was probably the best thing on the dessert plate, along with the ice cream. Just wished the baba lived up to them.

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