Uptown Oakland has great restaurants, chiefly within half a mile of the Fox, but what Uptown Oakland doesn't have are many quaint, romantic restaurants. That is no more, with the opening of Mockingbird. Simple, candle-lit, casually elegant, and with a menu that morphs daily, its vaguely New Orleans-ian charm is amplified by the curious angles cut by the diagonal that is San Pablo Avenue.
If Etsy sold food, it would probably resemble the little gem lettuce salad with avocado green goddess dressing and shaved vegetables, and herb-marinated roast half chicken with heirloom tomato panzanella, arugula and mixed basil. On balance, this is a menu that chases down and hugs more than a few trends, but there's certainly nothing twee about a hangar steak with bone marrow vinaigrette -- and you don't have to drop $400 to prove your affection like you might at Commis in Temescal.
Mockingbird is only open from 5:30 until 10 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, which adds up to barely more than an eighth of all the hours of the week. (Expanded hours are in the works.) But for now, if you want to score tonight, you're better off aiming to share a dessert of homemade Twix in that narrow timeframe than sitting in a booth in Rudy's Can't Fail until midnight, drinking coffee.
Mockingbird, 1745 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, (510) 290-0331.