I recently dined at the newly opened POMET in Oakland, and wanted to share some details about this interesting project with you. It’s from Aomboon Deasy, literally the farmer’s daughter of K&J Orchards, famous for their incredible fruits, but especially their Asian pears (they grow 10 varieties—her father was an expert) and nuts. Aomboon is a second-generation farmer—her Bangkok-born mother Kalayada (a registered nurse) and father James (a pomology professor) started the farm and orchard in 1980, and she now owns it with her husband, Timothy Deasy.
K&J’s produce is adored by the local restaurant community—one of K&J’s first restaurant clients was The French Laundry—and Pomet (which means “orchard” in Roman) is now an extension of the farm and all its wide restaurant industry and fellow farm relationships. Aomboon previously sold produce to executive chef Alan Hsu while he was at Benu, and consulting sommelier Paul Einbund (The Morris), who has crafted a fantastic and fascinating wine and beer list for Pomet.
The menu is seasonal, California-celebratory, and designed to be neighborhood-friendly. Hsu, who is Taiwanese-American and a Bay Area native, seamlessly weaves in some Asian influences with peak-season produce and fermented vegetables. Many items feature a kiss of smoke from the hearth (which uses cherry and apricot wood from the orchards), like charred Brokaw avocado served with succulent flakes of smoked trout, nori, and citrus (Cara Cara orange).
Hsu was most recently the chef and culinary director at Sagra Farms at Stemple Creek Ranch, and their beef is used in a delicious tartare that is a riff on Korean tartare (yukhoe), with pine nuts and batons of K&J’s Nitaka Asian pear, served with a flurry of egg mimosa and buckwheat crackers that look like wings. There’s also an extraordinary and infinitely tender short rib main dish, the most expensive item on the menu at $46, and the four slices could give some diners pause—you may want to share a pasta dish if you’re a heartier eater. No matter what kind of diner you are (unless you avoid gluten), you simply have to get the toasted sesame and scallion bun ($6), a pillowy and feathery cloud you will slather with nori butter.
We also tried the coal-roasted turnip ($30), served simply with a “market haul” of Savoy cabbage, trumpet mushrooms, asparagus, celery, fava beans, and fried shallots, with the pop of pickled daikon and the crunch of peanuts over Koda Farms rice. It’s such a bountiful dish of the best produce—simple but so fulfilling. The entire menu reads like a who’s-who of our local farmers’ markets, with a variety of vegetable side dishes from other farms, and is a delightful celebration of springtime.
Dessert ($12) include a can’t-miss satsuma creamsicle pie (what a crust), and the peanut butter-miso cake with caramelized Shared Cultures cacao nibs is quite special. We also enjoyed their Shinko pear snow, with bright notes from red shiso leaves and lemon verbena. (I’m going to be posting more pics on Instagram this week, follow me: @tablehopper.)
The restaurant was formerly Homestead (Aombooon sold produce to the Sassens), and I love seeing the ceramic wreaths of fruits and pine cones adorning the outside of this Julia Morgan-designed building, what a perfect match. The dining room has a large, copper-clad open kitchen (you can hear the crackle of the grill and hearth), comfortable tobacco leather dining chairs, large picture windows that look out on Piedmont Avenue and the adjoining alley (where you’ll see outdoor tables), plus there’s a private dining room with room for 10. They’re still getting their sea legs, but service is warm and welcoming. Open Wed-Sun 5pm-9pm. 4029 Piedmont Ave. at 40th St., Oakland.
Stemple Creek Ranch beef tartare with K&J’s Nitaka Asian pear. Photo: © tablehopper.com.