Blast From the Past
An meal at Mockingbird only feels like a splurge
1999 called. They're giving us our prices back.
Owners William Johnson and Melissa Axelrod--Zuni, Delfina and Spruce are just a few of the names on their résumés--operate in that mode that's working so well for Oakland these days: equal parts smart and humble, welcoming in lieu of slick.
You can see the heads of queued-up concertgoers through the frosted glass windows or study the blocky black-and-white masks taking over one high wall.
But once your appetizers have arrived, you're more likely to be engrossed in the prettiest chopped salad ($9) you've seen in months, or to be dabbing harissa onto silky white-and-purple calamari, arugula leaves and fried polenta croutons ($9).
No San Francisco restaurant would charge you only $17 for chicken rubbed in Moroccan spices, whose skin is just a few bubbles shy of cracklins and whose juices pool underneath Israeli couscous and fried Brussels sprout leaves.
Or ask $18 for a giant bowl of fat, sweet clams and mussels with fennel, braised leeks and potatoes.
It's just not done. Except in the 510.
If you're not up for a rich dessert, you can order truffles by the piece ($1) to come with the check, or a sampler plate of four. The rich, dark ganache is at its best when coated in toasted almonds or hazelnuts.