We've been watching Sarah Kirnon draw closer and closer to Miss Ollie's for years.
First, at The Front Porch, where the Barbados-born chef introduced San Francisco to Miss Ollie's--that is, her grandmother's--herb-perfumed fried chicken. Then at Hibiscus, where she wove the kind of passion for local produce that Californians equate with Alice Waters into Caribbean classics like phoulari and pepperpot.
Now, at her light-saturated restaurant in Old Oakland, her cooking has found a proper home. It's a place where humble rice and peas ($3.50), enriched with coconut milk, are given the same pride of place as piri piri pork shoulder ($9), braised with bitter orange and brown sugar, with roasted root vegetables and sautéed collards sharing the plate.
Miss Ollie's is a casual spot, where Kirnon's habanero sauce is served in mismatched bottles and you pay at the counter before hunting down the nearest free seat.
The lunchtime menu (dinner starts next week) changes often: A marvelous bowl of crab and dumplings we recently ate appears only infrequently, Kirnon told us afterward. But regulars already know Tuesdays mean fried chicken ($12) and Wednesdays, curried goat ($12.50).
Regulars, we hope, like us.
Miss Ollie's, 901 Washington St. (at 9th St.), Oakland; 510-285-6188 or facebook.com/MissOllies
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