Choosing a restaurant in a city that’s new to you presents its own set of challenges.
On my recent trip from Napa to New York I spent a Saturday night in Oakland in order to catch an early flight the next morning and decided to scout out Jack London Square for dinner.
There are several chain restaurants, and the square seemed pretty quiet—a lot quieter than I had expected. Then again, I haven’t dined in Oakland in years, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
It was already late when I arrived and I hoped to eat and get to bed at a reasonable hour. I drove around the square a couple of times and was disappointed by the dining choices.
Finally I spotted a small restaurant off the square near the farmer’s market and rows of warehouses where produce and fish are delivered.
I decided to check out Soizic Bistro, 300 Broadway St., at 3rd and Broadway. But I could barely discern what kind of restaurant it was and didn’t think of searching the Internet for any dining reviews.
We all approach these kinds of situations differently. Some of my friends are fanatics about knowing exactly where they’re dining and insist on reservations at known entities. Others like the adventure of a new and foreign experience.
My first choice had been Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and I’d tried to make a reservation there. But it was booked and farther away from the airport than I wanted.
So Soizic it was. My first thought when I’m in a situation like this is to size up the place, see if anyone’s dining, and read the menu and wine list. An even quicker way to size up a restaurant I thought would be to see the stemware.
Soizic’s wine list was solid (you can view it online at soizicbistro.com), but the wineglasses were ordinary, the kind you often see at places that should use better stemware. The menu offered an eclectic mix of Asian-Californian, French and Mediterranean entrées, all of which were appetizing. I settled on a grilled peach salad, with prosciutto and feta cheese, along with a grilled prawn starter. The main course was a fresh sea bass, all presented in a very attractive mix of colors, vegetables and sauces.
I drank a Tally Rincon Pinot Noir 2004 and it was sensational. Still young and vibrant, opulent and complex adding to a very satisfactory dining experience. As I enjoyed dinner and wine I kept thinking what a pleasant surprise Soizic had been. I was glad I took a chance, and I’d gladly go again.
Jason Carey — willow, ny usa — October 21, 2008 7:38pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — October 21, 2008 8:10pm ET
Thomas Schaal — San Francisco — October 21, 2008 8:27pm ET
Mark Antonio — Tokyo — October 22, 2008 12:15am ET
Dana Nigro — New York, NY — October 22, 2008 11:03am ET
Steven Glazer — Orinda — October 22, 2008 12:50pm ET
Mark Antonio — Tokyo — October 22, 2008 8:32pm ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — October 23, 2008 1:33am ET
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Steve Dunn — phila, PA USA — November 3, 2008 7:55pm ET
Steve Dunn — phila, PA USA — November 3, 2008 7:56pm ET
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