Mockingbird Restaurant Uptown Oakland | Tasting Table San Francisco

An meal at Mockingbird only feels like a splurge

1999 called. They're giving us our prices back.

At least at Mockingbird in Uptown Oakland, which quietly set up shop last month next to The New Parish.

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.