Over the weekend, I took a field trip to Montclair to check out my chef buddy Rob Lam’s menu at his new spot with Marcus Garcia (previously wine director for Fleur de Lys), PERLE WINE BAR. It’s designed to be a comfortable place, whether you’re dining with friends or snagging a couple seats at the spacious bar for date night (it was previously Pour Wine Bar & Bistro).
The menu is rooted in French bistro classics, with a focus on seafood, and Lam weaves some of his Vietnamese and Italian touches throughout the menu (after closing Butterfly earlier this year, he took some time to stage at Acquerello and brush up on some other techniques—you may remember him from the Jook Joint pop-ups we did back in November!).
You’ll find an array of housemade charcuterie (the tête de cochon and foie gras torchon are excellent) and there’s a selection of cheeses as well, so you can come in for just those and a glass of wine. Take your pick from a variety of “pearls,” from caviar service to oyster shooters in acqua pazza, and for a bite of luxury, you have to get the oysters suprême with uni, salmon caviar, black truffle perlage, and the kicker: foie gras brûlée.
Bites like fried oyster deviled eggs, smoked salmon toast (with crème fraîche whitefish—it’s like your dream bagel!), and a decadent dish with bone marrow, steak tartare, and black truffle caviar are all unique and perfect bites to pair with wine. Fortunately, Garcia has plenty of ideas for you.
Larger dishes include Pernod mussels (so plump and sweet) with petite meatballs and saffron rouille; linguini alle vongole (topped with clams casino); and a rich onglet steak with pommes dauphinoise (au gratin, baby). The French onion dip burger comes with a housemade milk bun that really makes it all come together—I could totally see myself plunking down at the bar here by myself, with just the company of this fine burger and a glass of wine.
Take a look at the menu here—Lam is still developing it and always tinkering (the space has only been open this past month), but you’ll get an idea. Same goes for the extensive wine cellar—Garcia has something for all palates and budgets, but if you feel like splashing out a little, this would be a place to go for it. Dinner Tue-Sun, starting at 5:30pm. 2058 Mountain Blvd., Montclair Village, Oakland, 510-808-7767.
Due to open in the former Advocate in Elmwood in late September is DONATO & CO. from Donato Scotti (of Donato Enoteca and CRU in Redwood City, and Desco in Oakland) and his chef partner in this and future projects, Gianluca Guglielmi. The two met back in 1999, when Guglielmi was executive chef, food research, and development, and vice president at A.G. Ferrari Foods, but lately he has been cooking at his Ristorante La Berlera in Riva del Garda since 2010 with his wife and son.
Donato & Co. will feature contemporary, rustic Italian cuisine highlighting housemade pasta and local seafood and meats cooked over live fire. There will also be a selection of seasonal salads, vegetarian, and vegan dishes, and look for some special sweets (it ends up Guglielmi has quite the passion for Italian pastries). There will be 20 wines by the glass, with a focus on Italian imports, plus French and Northern Californian producers, and many small-production wines. Cocktails will be Italian-inspired, with fresh juices and small batch spirits.
Chef Scotti and his longtime restaurant designer Anna Klint of Iron Skirt are designing the space, which includes a 20-foot bar and seating for 120 guests in the main dining room. And then there’s that state-of-the-art Constellation and Libra acoustic system from Berkeley’s renowned Meyer Sound they inherited with the space, which makes for the best dining room acoustics. It will be open for lunch and dinner Tue-Sun plus weekend brunch. I’ll keep you updated on the opening. 2635 Ashby Ave. at College, Berkeley.
East Bay folks: if you are always a little jealous of SF’s ability to order the lamb rotisserie salad or pork gyro from ~SOUVLA~ for delivery—and believe me, you should be—you get your chance to order Souvla for delivery via Caviar (that link will get you $20 off!) Thursday August 24th-27th! East Bay residents (in El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda) will be able to order for dinner starting at 5pm. Pro tip: order the juicy potatoes and add them to your salad. You’re welcome.
Oysters suprême with uni, salmon caviar, black truffle perlage, and foie gras brûlée at Perle. Photo: © tablehopper.com.