Review: Desserts to Fall in Love with at Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall Season 2014 (Jack London Square, Oakland)

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall 2014 Desserts

When we first checked out Jack London Square's newest seafood restaurant Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House in August, we had the dreamiest soft-serve ice cream with salted caramel topped with cornflakes. We recently went back for dinner and were invited to try out some of Jack's Fall desserts thanks to Executive Pastry Chef Paul Conte, who also runs the pastry program next door at Bocanova

The Man Behind the Desserts

Pastry Chef Paul Conte really knocks it out of the park when it comes to desserts. He formerly worked at MarketBar and Chaya Brasserie in San Francisco before starting his career at Bocanova and Jack's. In addition to having worked at many known establishments in New York and developing artistic talents through music and photography, Paul combines both his artistic and culinary skills into creating terrific warm and savory desserts that will keep you coming back for more. 

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House Dessert Tasting Review

The desserts are priced from $6 to $9. I would recommend getting a dessert per person because after having a bite, you'll regret sharing instead of eating it all yourself. Paul was out that day, so Sous Chef Daryl Johnson played the role of dessert maker for us. Here's a look at the desserts we tried: 

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall 2014 Desserts

Chocolate Malted Fudge Cake with Caramelized Bananas and Toasted Marshmallow

This dessert deserves a round of applause. It's delicious and makes me want to sit outside near a campfire and toast marshmallows all day. You get the perfect combination of gooey marshmallows, rich chocolate cake, and sweet caramelized bananas. If that's not enough, there's a heavenly layer of malted cream underneath the cake that adds an extra depth of flavor and sophistication. Lastly, it's finished with a sprinkle of pink peppercorns. 

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall 2014 Desserts

Carrot Cake with Caramel Popcorn and Popcorn Ice Cream

The carrot cake was our favorite out of the three tastings. Imagine fluffy and moist, yet buttery and rich - packed with carrots in each bite. The caramel popcorn created a wonderful sweet and salty combination with some crunch. The popcorn ice cream brings the entire dessert together to perfection; loved the unique flavor. It was a very well-balanced dessert. 

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House - Fall 2014 Desserts

Ginger Cake with Bananas, Figs and Ice Cream

This was a limited-run dessert created by Jack's Sous Chef, Daryl Johnson, so it may no longer be available. The ginger cake was very enjoyable; dark, rich, and gingery. The spices of the cake go nicely with the bananas, figs and candied nuts. The ice cream was a nice touch, allowing your mouth to take a break and cool off from all the spices.


Final Thoughts

I am a huge fan of Jack's and think it's a great addition to Jack London Square/Oakland. It is one of my favorite restaurants in Oakland for good reason. From cocktails to seafood to desserts, everything we've devoured has been wonderful, making it a great place to dine.

The desserts are creative, comforting and satisfying that it's probably worth the visit alone. Who says you can't skip dinner and go straight to dessert?

If you missed my recap post from the preview party, click here to check it out: First Look: Delicious & Thoughtful Seafood Fare at Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House Review.

Thanks for the desserts, Paul, Daryl and Jack's Oyster Bar and Fish House!


VISITING JACK'S OYSTER BAR & FISH HOUSE

Location

336 Water St. Oakland, California 94607

Phone

415.362.8887

Website

http://jacksoakland.com/

Hours

Opens Everyday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Reservations

They take reservations only at 5:30 p.m. on OpenTable

During other times, guests are seated on a first-come, first-served basis

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House on Urbanspoon

Coming Soon: What Kind of Food to Expect at Plank, Oakland's Newest Attraction - Beer Garden, Bowling, Bocce, & Restaurant Review

Plank Oakland - Review
Plank - Oakland

For those of you who have been living under a rock and haven't heard about Jack London Square's latest attraction that opens this Friday, Oct 10, this post will quickly get you up to speed in a little over a minute. For everyone else, I want to divert your attention away from all the wonderful entertainment options and focus on the food instead. 

plank is a new entertainment hot spot offering a full-service restaurant, 18 bowling lanes, outdoor beer garden with 3 bocce ball courts, 3 full bars, interactive games with prizes and live entertainment. 

I recently attended a media preview with Christina of East Bay Dish, Diane of Diane Bezucha Photography, and Sandy of Foodhoe and we got to tour the space, play bocce ball, and taste a variety of food options. 

Plank in a Nutshell

  • The entire space is 50,000 square feet
  • Indoor: 35,000 square feet
  • Outdoor: 15,000 square feet
  • Seating - Restaurant: 125 / Indoor: 500 / Outdoor: 325
  • Private Events: up to 1,000 reception style
  • The outdoor beer garden has 48 local and handcrafted draft beers and a bourbon selection
  • Three 60 foot bocce ball courts
  • Fire pits
  • Two indoor bars to get your drink on 
  • 40 HDTVs throughout the venue to cater to serious sports enthusiasts
  • 12 lanes are available for classic bowling / 6 lanes are offered in The Boardroom for guests 21 and over
  • 60 interactive games where guests will be able to win a variety of exclusive prizes
  • Two 8-foot billiard tables available in The Boardroom for guests 21 and over
  • Live entertainment every weekend (and the possibility of karaoke?!)
Plank - Oakland
Plank Oakland - Bocce Court
Plank Oakland - Bowling

The Food

plank has a diverse menu offering shared plates like chicken yakitori, ceviche and short ribs to entrees such as ahi tuna tacos, udon, burgers or hearth-oven pizza. Here's everything we tried during the event. 

Plank Oakland - Piclkles
Plank Oakland - Mixed Nuts

Pickles & Mixed Nuts

The pickles were a mix of carrots, string beans and radishes that hit you with a powerful vinegar force once you go in for a bite. I wasn't a big fan and felt that it needed more balance. For those of you who really like acidity in your pickles, this is for you.  

The mixed nuts were pleasant, sweet and spicy. It's a perfect pairing with a few beers on tap. 

Plank Oakland - Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Coleslaw

The chicken wings were served with three sauces and a side of blue cheese coleslaw. I wasn't a fan of the coleslaw and thought the blue cheese was too overpowering. On the other hand, the wings were cooked nicely. 

Plank Oakland - Ceviche

Ceviche with Plantain Chips

The ceviche was my least favorite dish from the tasting. While I enjoyed the plantain chips, the ceviche lacked brightness and I couldn't taste the freshness of the seafood mix.

Plank Oakland - Sausage Pizza
Plank Oakland - Vegetarian Pizza

Sausage and Vegetarian Pizza

We tried two pizzas, sausage and vegetarian, cooked in a hearth-oven. I am a meat lover but found myself enjoying the vegetarian option much more. I liked the variety of vegetables and peppers offered and found that the sausage was a bit on the salty side. Christina and I agreed on this, while Sandy liked the sausage more. 

Plank - Pork Belly Tacos

Char Siu Pork Belly Tacos

Everyone's favorite dish was the char siu pork belly tacos. I wish I didn't have to share because I could easily eat 4 tacos by myself and call it a day. The pork belly is prepared Chinese BBQ style, so you get that five spice and sweet honey-like taste. 


Final Thoughts

plank is an exciting new addition to Oakland and the food is enjoyable. It's steps above the standard greasy food you'd expect at a regular bowling alley. We only tasted a small set of the food from their menu, so I look forward to trying out more dishes, although it will be hard to resist ordering anything else but pork belly tacos.


VISITING PLANK

Location

98 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

Website

plankoakland.com

Menu

plankoakland.com/menus/

Phone

(510) 817 - 0980

Hours

  • Mon - Thurs: 11am - 12am
  • Fri - Sat: 11am - 1am
  • Sun: 11am - 12am
Plank on Urbanspoon

Just Opened: Barlago Review - Rustic Italian Comfort Food Near Lake Merritt - Oakland

Pasta Dishes at Barlago Oakland
Barlago Oakland

Barlago is a rustic Italian restaurant located in Oakland's Adams Point neighborhood, directly across from Lake Merritt. The restaurant's name means "lake" and "bar" in Italian. Inspired by the location's diversity and strong sense of community, Philip Raskin saw the opportunity and couldn't resist opening a neighborhood spot, where people can socialize and enjoy Italian-inspired drinks and bites. 

Patrick and I were invited to be guests of the house and had dinner on a Friday at 6 p.m. We selected a nice table near the entrance with a clear view of the lake. On the menu were many classic Italian dishes at very reasonable prices, especially given the huge portion sizes. The dishes are meant to be shared like an Italian family's Sunday dinner. 

Barlago Oakland - Dining Room

The Space

There are two sections inside - a 50-seat bar and lounge with a community table and a 50-seat dining room. Ian McLean created the engaging, comfortable and lovely open space design, allowing for views of Lake Merritt with an "old Bay Area Barbary Coast meets Venice" aesthetic. There is also sidewalk seating, with heating, for 20 people on bar stools at the counter. 

Barlago Oakland - Bar

The Food

Barlago - CASINO 13 freshly shucked clams, bacon, chili flakes, oregano, pecorino

Casino Pizza ($13)

We loved the freshly shucked clams, bacon, chili flakes, oregano, and pecorino pizza combo. It's not on a normal thin crust dough; the crust was like a crispy flatbread. The only disappointment is not enough clams, which I would gladly pay extra for if given the option. 


Barlago - fresh burrata, tomato, basil, olive oil

Tomatoes and Burrata ($8)

The tomatoes were naturally sweet and refreshing. The burrata was wonderful, very creamy. 


Barlago - BOLOGNESE tagliatelle, traditional sauce of beef, pork, pancetta, san marzano tomatoes, rocotta salata

Bolognese ($15)

The amount of pasta given for the price offered was almost unbelievable, especially for the area. The tagliatelle is dressed with a traditional sauce of beef, pork, pancetta, san marzano tomatoes, and ricotta salata. I can't assess this dish fairly because I'm not a fan of bolognese, but Patrick loves bolognese and thought it was very delicious. 


Barlago - Carne Brasato - Boont Amber Ale braised short ribs with porcini mushrooms, broccolini and creamy polenta

Carne Brasato ($19)

We enjoyed the tender short ribs cooked in Boont Amber Ale paired with the lovely taste and aroma of porcinis. The entire dish is very rich in flavor, but it personally lacked fat from the short ribs for me. The crispy polenta was nice, whereas the broccolini was a bit under-cooked.


Barlago - Chocolate Fondant Cake

Chocolate Fondant Cake

The chocolate cake was tasty, moist and airy. The cake lacked a creamy richness for me and I thought it needed a bit more chocolate filling. I also preferred a bit more ice cream; when ice cream matches up to the size of a strawberry, it's just not enough. 


Final Thoughts

Barlago is a lovely new addition to the neighborhood. The Italian-inspired cocktails are wonderful. The casino flatbread pizza is a must and if that's not what you want, there's enough variety of options on the small plates menu that could keep anyone happy. I would recommend checking Barlago out for appetizers and drinks, but if you decide to arrive with a big appetite, you will not be disappointed. The food portions are very generous and reasonably priced.

Thanks for dinner, Barlago! 


VISITING BARLAGO

Location

550 Grand Avenue. Oakland, California

Website

www.barlago.biz

Phone

(510) 836-2424

Hours

  • Tuesday - Friday: 11.30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Barlago on Urbanspoon