Doug Washington Opening a New Project on Broadway in Oakland: OK Falls

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The spacious 1542 Broadway, the future home of OK Falls. Photo courtesy of Doug Washington.

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Another look at the space. Photo courtesy of Doug Washington.

Restaurateur Doug “Mr. Hospitality” Washington (Town Hall, Salt House, Anchor & Hope, Grand Fare) has just signed the lease for a space at 1542 Broadway and will be opening a new restaurant called ~OK FALLS~ in spring 2015. The “OK” stands for Okanagan, a beautiful agricultural area in British Columbia where Washington’s parents and relatives all currently live—his grandparents lived and farmed there (they had orchards). You’d never guess from Washington’s last name that all of his mother’s side come from Udine (in Northern Italy), which is an important component to this very personal project.

The cuisine is going to be focused on homey Italian-American cooking, with executive chef Rebecca Boice leading the kitchen. Boice also has some Italian roots—her grandfather was a first-generation immigrant who ran a butcher shop in Morgan Hill called Stephen’s Meats. Boice worked at Zuni for 10 years and was most recently the executive chef at Toast Kitchen + Bar. Expect a strong focus on California seasonality and sustainability to ripple throughout the menu. Sample dishes include beef carpaccio with rosemary chips; grilled bruschetta with Tuscan-style chicken liver pâté, smashed cannellini beans, and long-cooked greens; yellowfin tuna conserva with roasted sweet peppers, red onions, and sultana raisin salsa verde. Rustic Italian dishes, like housemade sweet Italian sausage with all-day red sauce and spaghetti, and Marsala-braised chicken with 40 cloves of garlic sauce will also be on the menu. Oh yeah, and a house specialty will be lasagna.

With food like that, it’s a good thing the space will have 90 seats. There’s also an 18-seat bar and a private dining room. Oh, and did we mention the cabin? Yeah, there will be a cabin. It’s a fantastic feature to the entire project: a wood-shingled cabin in the middle of the room will host everything from private dinners to talk-worthy art installations, which will border on performance art some evenings. And it’s not a tiny one: we’re talking 21 feet by 21 feet. Inside, it will have clean white walls, wood floors, and chandeliers. It’s going to be quite the hot ticket for private events (and peeking through the windows).

The bar is another focal point, with Jamal Robinson (Town Hall) curating the cocktails and consulting on the menu. There will be a stainless steel counter behind the bar, giving it more the feeling of a kitchen workspace. Look for handcrafted syrups and tinctures, fresh ingredients, and quality spirits. One of the cocktails is the Pasquina, an homage to Washington’s grandma.

There’s a great team assembled, including wine and spirits director Haley Moore (Bacar, Spruce, and now the wine director for the Stock & Bones Company, which includes Town Hall, Salt House, and Anchor & Hope, plus Irving St. Kitchen in Portland). Her wine list will have many Italian selections, but will also represent California and other European countries too. The project will eventually serve morning coffee and lunch, but dinner to start, six nights a week.

Stand by for some sneak peeks and more in coming months—the project is going to have an urban-rustic look and a really artistic component to the entire experience (I look forward to sharing more). For now, check out the great bones of this huge space—it has fantastic brick walls and vaulted ceilings with a skylight. 1542 Broadway at 16th St., Oakland.