In Review: Bay Wolf Restaurant

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Website: www.baywolf.com
Address: 3853 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94611
Reservations: (510) 655-6004
Rating: 8/10

Just finished a three hour drive from Chicago to Springfield, IL (Aside: There are many that believe this is the city that The Simpsons is modeled after. There are ~25 “Springfield”s in the US, I believe this is the only one with a nuclear plant in the city…), a thunderstorm made the drive quite interesting. The weather on this journey was so different than last week when Clint and I went sailing. The contrast reminded me I had yet to write a review of the restaurant we went to…

After a day of sailing last week, we stopped off at one of Jay and Judy’s favorite restaurants, Bay Wolf. Much raving was made of this place throughout the day as we all worked up an appetite sailing. Thus, I had high expectations as we approached the restaurant which was on trendy Piedmont Avenue, in contrast to the industrial parts of Oakland.

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Left to right: Jay, Judy, Clint, Loni (Ross is behind the camera)

The menu and atmosphere reminded me of a favorite restaurant in San Jose, CA called 71 Saint Peter which is just as cozy and offers a limited and frequently changing menu that is sure to peak one’s interest.

I started out with the Caesar salad with Star Route Farms romaine ($9). The salad was exceptionally delicious…in fact it was the best Caesar salad I could recall having. I think it was the perfect balance between the salad dressing and the incredibly fresh lettuce. It was the highlight of the meal. Not because the rest of the meal was poor, simply because I couldn’t imagine such a simple salad ever tasting so good.

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This Caesar salad was delicious. I don’t know what the chef did but it’s the best Caesar I can recall having.

I then waffled between the Moroccan-style braised chicken with spiced couscous, pickled turnips and harissa ($19) and the Grilled Alaskan halibut with sweet corn, roasted peppers and marinated vegetable escalivada ($24).

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My choice of the Grilled Alaskan halibut with sweet corn. roasted peppers and marinated vegetables escalivada ($24)

I ended up choosing the halibut because I have been travelling quite a bit and decided to go with a lighter dish. The dish came wrapped up in fig leaves from the tree behind the restaurant. The sweet corn placed under the halibut was my favorite part of the dish, it was so delicious and prepared with such restraint to ensure the flavor was exciting without overpowering the true character of the corn. The halibut was average compared to other restaurants I’ve been to in this calibre. The flavors were mild and not very interesting.

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Judy’s choice: Liberty Ranch duck two ways: grilled breast and duck chorizo with chickpea cakes and minted green beans

At this point I snuck glances at Clint’s Lamb brochette with slow-cooked Romano beans, tomato Provençale and spicy yogurt sauce ($23) and Jay’s Moroccan-style braised chicken with spiced couscous, pickled turnips and harissa which seemed to have much more interesting sauces that would hold up better against the 2001 Grgich Hills Cabernet that Jay and Judy so generously shared with us on this occasion. I tried a bit of Clint’s lamb and it was delicious, I am partial to lamb against a backdrop of spicy yogurt sauce. Jay loved his Moroccan-style chicken.

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Clint’s choice: Lamb brochette with slow-cooked Romano beans, tomato Provençale and spicy yogurt sauce ($23)

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Jays choice: Moroccan-style braised chicken with spiced couscous, pickled turnips and harissa ($19)

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Ross’ choice: Off the menu, Baywolf was able to accomodate his cravings for beef.

As a wonderful end to our day sailing, we ordered three desserts to share among ourselves:

– Chocolate panna cotta with chocolate wafer ($8.50)
– Plum upside-down cake with cardamom ice cream ($8.50)
– Summer berry pudding with crème chantilly ($8.50)

They were beautifully presented and delicious, but nothing spectacular. My favorite was suprising the Chocolate panna cotta with chocolate wafer. That was quite delicious, especially with a cappuccino Clint and I shared…this would be scandalous in Italy. The best dessert I have had from memory was from Zibibbo’s in Palo Alto.

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Chocolate panna cotta with chocolate wafer

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Plum upside-down cake with cardamom ice cream

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Summer berry pudding with crème chantilly

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