This weekend, Hopscotch Restaurant & Bar (1915 San Pablo ave) is celebrating its two-year anniversary in uptown Oakland with a special family style offering. The six-course meal is priced at $80 for two, making it an ideal date destination -- just a three-block walk from the BART station.
To start, a small plate of Kanpachi Tiradito: artfully presented fresh amberjack, glazed in a light, citrusy oil amidst a bed of sprouts. The flavors were delicate and wonderfully balanced; the soft tones of the fish magnified by a slight sweetness. I paired it with the Ghost Story, a gently-smoked mezcal cocktail with a botanical edge, thanks to the presence of St. George's Terroir Gin ($10).
For the main course, Hopscotch's anniversary menu boasts a 20-ounce veal chop served with grilled shishito peppers. Served on the bone, tender enough to melt on your tongue, it delivers a pronounced punch of umami, accompanied nicely by the spice of the shishitos. The high quality of the meat was unmistakable, cooked perfectly to a medium rare -- the only way to enjoy a cut like this. It came with chewy clumps of gnocchi, served with creamed corn in a cast iron skillet. The texture was memorable, although the flavor was somewhat muted.
My drink pairing for the entree was an Outer Borough -- the bar's playful take on a Manhattan, with gran clasico and carpano antica. A little bit of bitterness and spice to tackle the deep, charred flavors of the veal. A seasoned drinker would also appreciate the Plaid on Plaid at this point of the meal. Based around Caol Ila Scotch, its trademark peatiness is present but subdued by lemon, honey, and egg whites. That subtle creaminess would work well with meat and pasta.
The meal concludes with a yuzu meringue pie. Like most of the fare at Hopscotch, it's a slight Japanese variation on a traditional classic. And it's emblematic of the inventive nature of the kitchen here. It's one thing to come up with unique ideas -- using Japanese citrus in a classic American dessert, dressing your scotch with egg whites -- it's another to execute them with ease. The anniversary menu goes the distance, highlighting the strengths of this two-year-old establishment and making a strong case for why it should be here for many more years to come.