A KronnerBurger with a side of marrow. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Fries with cheese curds and beef cheek gravy. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
The earth burger. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Definitely save room for dessert: the orange creamsicle sundae. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
The dining room at KronnerBurger at a test lunch. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
The exterior of KronnerBurger. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Has there ever been such a burger that was so hotly anticipated to return to our culinary scene? Well, I know I am not alone in my happiness that ~KRONNERBURGER~ is finally opening this Wednesday May 6th for lunch in Oakland’s Piedmont district. Chef Chris Kronner has been known for his burger—a rare, salty, aged beef master concoction—for quite a while. I remember that bad boy five years ago when he was cooking at Bar Tartine, with its cheddar mayo and optional add-on of bone marrow. Fortunately those building blocks of his burger construction have remained in place as he has fine-tuned it over the years at his many pop-ups.
His brick-and-mortar location is right on Piedmont Avenue, in a quirky and charming flatiron-style building that used to house J’s Mexican-American restaurant (did you know it was once a trolley depot?). Kronner worked with architect Wylie Price on the 40-seat space, one that is quite airy and very stylish. When was the last time you went into a burger joint with a Deco-esque rose quartz counter? Exactly. The room is full of artisan craftsmanship, from the communal stand-up tabletop made in cottonwood (sourced via Evan Shively) by Kelly Best (he also did the wood pieces at The Progress). You’ll notice some chic Asian/Deco metalwork by Luigi Oldani, most of the woodwork and metal work by Andrew Poyner, custom ceramic pendant lights from Peter St. Lawrence, and even the ceramic plates were made by partner and GM Ashley Hildreth with Jessica Niello, and another batch by Travis McFlynn. The overall light tones of the room are counterpointed with punches of navy-cobalt blue.
The test opening menu included a wedge salad, a creative chopped salad (with savoy cabbage, broccoli di cicco, pickled chile, and smoked coconut), and one of the tastiest asparagus dishes I’ve had in some time, with fondue, rye bread crumbs, and nepitella. A couple more items you’ll find in the “Apps Bro” (LOL) section include chicken wings that come anointed with a funky fermented chile you will want to put on everything, and expertly fried fries with curds and beef cheek gravy. Oh hi, onion rings.
As for the main event, there’s the famed Kronnerburger, which now comes on a housemade bun by Betty Frank (previous Box & Bells), who will be doing all the baking for the restaurant (just wait until you taste her biscuit at brunch, I’m warning you). Wood-fired grill, check. Right now, the patty is made from a combination of beef sourced from Mindful Meats and Marin Sun Farms. Kronner is actually going to be getting whole sides of beef from Stemple Creek Ranch in Marin, which will clock in at 600 to 700 pounds; he expects to go through two a month. The burgers are going to feature quite the combination of cuts, and the dining room will also benefit with very affordable steaks. It’s quite an undertaking, ending up in zero waste.
A new entry on the menu is the Mangalitsa pig burger, made from whole pigs from Winkler Farms, which Kronner says is some of the best pork he has ever tasted. It comes with smoked and pickled onion, pickled rinds, and white barbecue sauce.
I’m just gonna tell you: the patty melt is going to rock your world. Our table went loopy over this magical combination of onion confit (it made me think of the best French onion soup), hot mustard, and mixed milk cheese (sheep and cow cheddar). Get it.
Vegetarians, you will be well taken care of with the earth burger, a savory and vegan patty (mostly mushrooms, tofu, sweet potato, and cabbage) topped with yuba “bacon,” red onion, and lettuce (you’ll be able to get it in a gluten-free bun).
Brunch and dinner service will feature some additional dishes, which we’ll highlight and talk about in next week’s tablehopper! Assisting Kronner in the kitchen is Bill Niles (previously St. Vincent, Bar Tartine) and Christa Chase (Duende, Pizzaiolo). Save room for some of Betty Frank’s desserts, like an orange creamsicle soft-serve sundae with date caramel and pecans.
Did you know there’s going to be full liquor here? Yeah, and the talented Alex Phillips (Locanda, Al’s Place) will be overseeing the menu full of drinks like a fantastic margarita. More on this soon. We’ll also be sharing the wine list by Bradford Taylor of Ordinaire, which will feature many old-world selections. Sayre Piotrkowski (Hog’s Apothecary) is behind the beer list, so you know it will rock. There’s a patio in the back, with room for 20, perfect for our impending warmer weather.
Lunch begins Wednesday May 6th, open 11am-3pm, and then brunch begins this weekend, running Sat and Sun 10am-3pm. On Thursday May 14th, dinner service will kick in, with hours moving to Sun and Wed-Thu 11am-10:30pm, Fri 11am-12am, Sat 10am-12am, and Sun 10am-10:30pm. Closed Mondays. 4063 Piedmont Ave. at 41st, Oakland.