The story: Former Bar Tartine chef, Chris Kronner, devoted his last years to perfecting the burger through a year-long late night pop-up inside Bruno’s in San Francisco’s Mission District. For his permanent spot, he went across the bay (like many restauranteurs) to Oakland, moving into an old diner space in the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood. After months of renovations and construction, KronnerBurger Oakland finally opened last week.
Why I went: I’ve been dying to go since I heard Kronner was coming to the neighborhood right around the corner from my apartment. With the construction delays, anticipation just built up even more. So when they announced a soft opening last week with lunch service, I knew I had to go right away. So did my friends Christina of East Bay Dish and Sandy of Foodhoe’s Foraging, who suggested weekend brunching on burgers.
The vibe: The white-painted bricks and walls gave KronnerBurger a sophisticated and clean palate for its burgers. White marble counters and tabletops seem a bit fancy for a burger joint, but the crowd was definitely a casual bunch. And dare I say, way too hipster. Even though Piedmont Avenue is skewing younger despite being an old neighborhood, it’s like KronnerBurger has become a magnet, drawing out all the hipsters with their tight jeans, flannel shirts, and guys with lots of beards.
The menu: Although we went for brunch, the menu wasn’t heavily brunch-worthy (other than a breakfast sausage and English muffin). It’s a starter menu because Kronner plans to expand as the restaurant ramps up. For now, there were only two salads, one burger, one vegetarian option and one sausage option. There were also specialty starters like Kronner’s popular bone marrow (although it’s not served with the burger) and fries with kurds and gravy ($7). KronnerBurger featured a couple of desserts, which seemed ambitious since they just opened.
The booze: The wine and beer actually took up half the real estate of the brief menu, with about seven wine options and two beer choices. Since we were there for brunch, most of us bypassed the booze with Sandy and her husband, Mr. K., waking up with coffee and Christina and I trying the original orange cream soda ($4), a delightfully refreshing and light orange soda with a bit of cream and seltzer, like drinking a fizzy Creamsicle.
My favorite dish: While the signature KronnerBurger ($11) was good with its cheddar mayo and house-made pickles, I actually was more enamored by the bone marrow ($13), mostly because I’ve never had marrow done so perfectly well that it was like eating a rillette served with levain bread slices. I’ve never been a fan of bone marrow because those I’ve tried have been slightly rubbery or difficult to get out of the bone. Not here, where it was almost gelatinous but easily spreadable. Several of us held back on eating up the bone marrow so we could save some to smear on our burgers.
Insider tip: Kronner must be like me, with a fondness for Creamsicles, because not only is there the orange cream soda but for dessert there’s orange cream soft serve ice cream. So orange cream seems to be a theme, and I’m so glad. If you go, don’t skip either getting the drink or soft serve. It’ll take you back to your childhood.
The last bite: KronnerBurger is definitely taking a big bite out of the Piedmont dining scene, with well-seasoned burgers and professional, friendly service (despite the crowds, we never felt rushed). While I felt my burger might have been slightly on the charred side because of the wood-fire grill, and the menu still needs to grow more in diversity to stand out from the crowd, KronnerBurger is a welcomed option for the area. It’s nice to see it in the hood.
The rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: KronnerBurger, 4063 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. PH: 415.656.9871. Currently open for lunch, Tuesdays through Fridays; dinner Thursdays through Sundays; and weekend brunch. No reservations. Major credit cards accepted. www.kronnerburger.com
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