The story: Chef James Syhabout of Commis fame has returned the love to his Oakland home base by opening several new restaurants in the city, adding to the economy. From Hawker Fare to Box and Bells, he’s introduced several different concepts. His latest is a partnership with Linden Street Brewery, and it’s called The Dock adjacent to the brewery in Oakland’s shipping/industrial area.
Why I went: I recently was invited to a gathering organized by Urbanspoon to meet its new CEO, Keela Robison, who was visiting Oakland. I had suggested The Dock because it’s new and I thought the beer shed would be a fun spot for a large group (and this dinner happened awhile back when the weather was more summer like). Turned out I was the only one who could make the last-minute dinner, so it was just me and Robison checking out the small plates offerings.
The vibe: Casual and fun, a mix of beer lovers and people looking for tasty bites. The open restaurant is more sophisticated than most pubs, almost an oasis in the isolated area of Linden Street.
The menu: A creative menu with several interesting-sounding dishes, like caesar popcorn to jerk chicken wings to Maui Wowie sundaes. The food stylings seem to be all over the place, with ingredients from all types of cuisine from Indian to Hawaiian to Spanish. But they’re all packed with flavor and innovation. I’ve eaten at all of Syhabout’s restaurants and The Dock showcases how Syhabout is stretching his creativity in a casual way (opposed to Commis where his creativity shines in a polished way).
The booze: I appreciated the beer list, which featured several local breweries. Before my dinner, I enjoyed a refreshing Faction Summer IPA ($8) from Alameda.
My favorite dish: Robison and I enjoyed almost every dish we tried, but my favorite was probably the kohlrabi and heart of palm salad ($11). I’ve read about different variations since the restaurant was opened; on this night Syhabout paired the salad with a luscious crisp pork belly. Even a simple dish of cucumber sunomono (the Japanese pickled vegetables) ($8) was expertly done compared to most Japanese restaurants.
Insider tip: If the weather’s nice, it’s fun to dine in the beer shed and outdoor space, but keep in mind there’s not much of a view, other than the highway.
The last bite: The Dock isn’t a restaurant that creates food for the beer, but it’s Syhabout’s creative playground where the food looks simple but stretches your tastebuds. It offers the most diverse menu I’ve seen in Oakland.
The rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: The Dock at Linden Street, 95 Linden St., Oakland. PH: 510.338.3965. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.thedockoakland.com
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