Copper Spoon will be known as the restaurant that took over Art’s Crab Shak’s location on Broadway in Oakland. In fact, the retro sign for Art’s is still there, and the new owners plan to keep it albeit with new wording, of course.
I have never actually been to the former Art’s Crab Shak, so I don’t really have much sentimentality in that regards. For me, I’m excited that there’s another restaurant option that’s just a 15-minute walk from my apartment.
I was invited as a guest to check out the new Copper Spoon, which opened three weeks ago by Vita Simone and Carmen Anderson, who previously operated the Sassafras Seagrass food truck. For their first restaurant, they enlisted the help of executive chef Andre Hall.
The restaurant has a large bar, which Simone (who has also worked at Benjamin Cooper) helms, often creating cocktails customized to the taste of diners. A bank of booths in blue vinyl on one side of the restaurant create a coziness and intimacy (a volume dial at each booth adjusts the volume of the house music).
The decor is a bit eclectic, and that actually is reflected in Chef Hall’s menu, which has a bit of touches from the Sassafras’ truck favorites, Hall’s leanings toward Japanese ingredients, and a bit of Mediterranean flavors. My friend Kim who joined me for dinner felt a bit confused by the eclectic menu, saying it makes it hard to describe the new restaurant to friends.
My response was that, if the food’s good, then I just tell people they do good food.
And luckily, Copper Spoon does just that.
Everything we tried had a sophistication in presentation and complexity in flavors that left both Kim and I curious and happy. Our starters were mostly raw fish, highlighting the Japanese influences, and they were all fresh, from the Sassy’s hand roll (using the special of salmon, $8) and the ceviche and crudo combo ($17).
The crudo was salmon with cucumber ribbons and what tasted like tiny scoops of cantaloupe. The ceviche was supposed to be seabass, but they ran out and substituted with raw scallops, which I loved for their meatiness and clean flavors.
Kim couldn’t stop raving about her main of slow grilled white fish ($29), which was a black bass that was served with koji-cured brassicas, fried potatoes, and finger limes. It was finished with a lemongrass broth that added another depth of flavor but didn’t overpower the entire dish.
I tried the Sassy’s Lamb Merguez Burger ($16), which was a hearty burger topped with purple-colored kraut, a spicy rub, and a dollop of tzatziki, sitting on a brioche bun. The lamb meat was enjoyable, and all the flavors melded together (although I felt there may have been way too much tzatziki for my taste).
There are only two options for desserts right now, but surprisingly both are interesting and satisfying for dinner’s end. Missy’s Carrot Cake ($6), was spongey and tasty, although not super carrot-ey. The cream cheese frosting blended with toasted almonds and coconut.
Sassy’s Yaya Mousse ($5) is a smooth pudding-like mousse with a slight cardamon flavor and topped with smoked sea salt and Greek olive oil. There were also toasted pepita seeds on top, which also was a bit too much in proportion to the mouse (I wanted more mousse!).
Side note: The cocktails we tried were both stellar. I tried the “Don’t Mind If I Do…” made with Vida mezcal and passion fruit that was smokey from the mezcal. Kim one of the custom-made drinks from Simone.
The last bite
Copper Spoon may be hard to describe but it offers new flavors and options for the neighborhood. The bar program is strong, and the food will raise your curiosity. It may likely make people say, Art who?
Since I was invited as a guest, I won’t be giving my usual ratings. But I’m glad Copper Spoon is in my neighborhood, because I plan to go back often.
The deets: Copper Spoon, 4031 Broadway (between 40 and 41 Streets), Oakland. PH: 510.879.7061. Open daily from 5:30 to 10 p.m. (except Wednesday). Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.copperspoonoakland.com
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