The story: Plenty is a new cafe that opened last fall on the outskirts of Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood on San Pablo Avenue, nearby a few community centers. It’s by two Oakland residents who have worked or consulted for the nearby Hopscotch restaurant.
Why I went: I was excited about the possibility of a new lunch option near my Lake Merritt offices, but it is a bit far for me to go back and forth during my lunch hour, so I ended up checking it out on a few Sundays, the only weekend day when it’s open.
The vibe: Industrial and airy, the open cafe space has a coffee shop feel combined with a crafts shop because of the communal picnic tables in the center. There’s a real community feel as many of the people dropping in live nearby, making this a growing neighborhood spot for the area.
The beverages: Plenty tilts toward the healthy so in the beverages refrigerator there are raw juices, fresh orange juice and sodas. They also serve drip coffee from Red Bay Coffee.
The menu: As mentioned, there’s a healthy slant to the menu, so you’ll find salads and healthy brown rice bowls and the ubiquitous avocado toasts. But it’s not all light and healthy as breakfast items, baked goods and items like five-spice pork belly will satisfy all cravings. There’s an elegance to the plates, such as the avocado and smoked salmon toast ($11) where the drizzle of creme fraiche created almost a striped fish look to the salmon. A rice noodles bowl with lime shrimp and edamame and greens ($12) lived up to the healthy standards (although the fresh lime made the overall dish a bit too tart).
My favorite dish: You know I love pork belly and Plenty’s 5-spice pork belly ($12) served with brown rice and kimchi ancho chili salad was a simple plate but with tender pork belly slices. In a way, the balance wth brown rice and salad made it a guilt-free meal.
The last bite: While the space is simple and sometimes a bit difficult to spot from the street, Plenty offers a lot with restaurant-quality dishes in a casual and relaxing spot.
The rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Plenty, 1825 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. PH: 510.250.9056. Open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No reservations. Major credit cards accepted. www.plentyoakland.com
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