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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Plum Bar in Oakland: Voted Best Cocktails and Best Bar Food

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge A Plum Bar Manhattan (with housemade coffee bitters). - BETTY WANG
  • Betty Wang
  • A Plum Bar Manhattan (with housemade coffee bitters).

If you're looking for a new East Bay watering hole that features substantial food 
click to enlarge BETTY WANG
  • Betty Wang
and drink, there's always the newly renovated Plum Bar. It was voted the winner in two categories of the East Bay Express reader's poll in the Bar-and-Restaurant category, earning "Best Cocktails" and "Best Food at a Bar." A winning combination for lushes, hipsters, and anyone who's a sucker for mixology bars with fried foods, methinks — and who isn't the latter, really? It was certainly worth at least a taste for me, as I spotted the sandwich board outside the restaurant displaying these accolades.

The space is split into two rooms, a dining room and a bar area. There's a lot of wood (bench-like seats and booths), sunlight, and even wifi for those of you wanting to channel your inner Don Draper and will take a nice morning Old Fashioned with your work musings. Decor aside, what sets Plum Bar apart from other similarly dressed hipster bourgeoise-esque establishments? A few things: several punch bowl options (complete with ladles and adorable teacups), house-made bitters (rows and rows of them), and an adult Happy Meal. Ordering one of those will be a first for anyone who never got carded at McDonalds. While $22 may sound steep, PB's Happy Meal comes with a half pound cheeseburger, smoked fries, whatever beer is on tap, and a shot of Four Roses bourbon. A vegetarian version with a falafel burger and a super green elixir (a green juice) is an alternative, as is a happy hour version with sliders that's discounted even further.

I spotted a walnut liqueur, which, alongside the bitters, is one of the many that Plum Bar 
click to enlarge BETTY WANG
  • Betty Wang
makes in-house, and requested a drink based around it. While the concoction the bartender whipped up was a bit one-note (but still highly drinkable, as attested by me leaving only a glass of ice cubes and my slight wobble out the door later), Plum's featured drinks are otherwise a cast of standouts. I also tried a a Manhattan with coffee bitters — available with house, mole, or clove bitters — that was both tasty and went down smoothly.

Plum Bar is one of the two East Bay members of the esteemed DPG restaurant family, with Aster, Coi, Alta CA, and Haven as the other kids in that club. PB's location is a quick 15-minute BART ride for you SF FiDi folks and otherwise it's within a couple blocks from the 19th Street Bart station, right next to the Ike's Downtown Oakland location. They're open for lunch, where you'll find options varying from massive biscuit sandwiches (including a cod po' boy, pulled pork, corned beef, and fried chicken) with fluffy fresh biscuits that may require you to fork and knife them, plus a separate dinner menu with a Southern-inspired menu that includes poutine fries, braised short ribs, "Top Ramen" noodles (of the non-Maruchan variety), and biscuits and gravy.

It's a hidden gem for those looking for a nice reprieve at lunch, and a more obvious choice for the after-work crowd. However you'd need to rush there to catch happy hour, which ends at 5:30. If you don't make it in time, you can still order a Happy Meal to console yourself.

Plum Bar, 2216 Broadway, Oakland. 510-444-7586


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Betty Wang

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