UPDATE: This restaurant closed in 2014.
The 3-month-old Marrow still has the feel of a temporary space, from the daily specials scribbled on brown butcher paper to the limited seating.
This tiny lunch spot is the brainchild of Jon Kosorek, the former chef of Fork in San Anselmo who spent some time dishing up street food from his Oakland food truck Jon Street Eat’s before selling his truck and going back to corporate cooking. He eventually opened Marrow, focusing on a whole animal menu.
The Limited Menu
The menu shouldn’t scare off vegetarians, though, because there are quite a few vegetable options to balance the meat fare. There are a few standard items, including the signature Reuben sandwich ($12) and Patty Melt ($10), supplemented with eclectic seasonal dishes like King Salmon Cobb Salad ($12) or crispy potato salad ($4). He even throws in a couple of dessert items (even though I can never find time for dessert at lunch).
If you haven’t noticed, the prices for the main items are on the high end. A special porchetta sandwich I tried recently could give Roli Roti’s porchetta sandwich a run for the money in the taste department (nice flavor, tender meat, but bun could be better), but it’s already beaten Roli Roti on price, selling for $11 (compared to Roli Roti’s $9).
The flavors are there, however, and despite the small portions in some case, you still end up leaving satisfied. Kosorek plates up each dishes elegantly, even though they’re only on parchment paper on metal trays. His asparagus with poached egg ($7) could rival any San Francisco restaurant as a starter, and his Reuben sandwich is tasty and messy good, even though for $12 you’d think you’d get a side salad but all you get is the sandwich.
Side note: Kosorek may have served up bone marrow dishes early on, but the last few times I’ve visited I haven’t spotted the namesake dish on the menu.
Seating is limited at this super casual spot with no table service, decorated with a few artwork of Oakland landmarks. But if you cozy up to the four bar counter seats, you’ll have a front row seat of Kosorek and his sous chef cooking up the meals (and he typically offers up a complimentary deviled egg to bar mates).
The Last Bite
For years I’ve complained about my lunch options near my Oakland offices in Uptown, but now with Marrow and more to come, there are a lot of options. I just have to save up my money just to afford lunch. If Marrow wasn’t so pricey, I might have bumped it up a star in my rating below, but for now it’s a special lunch spot in between my brown bag days.
Marrow, 325 19th St. (between Harrison and Webster), Oakland. PH: 510.251.1111. Open weekday breakfast, 8–10:30 a.m.; weekday lunch, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. No reservations, major credit cards accepted. Check Facebook page for daily menu changes.
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