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OAKLAND ●Restaurants

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Homestead  4029 Piedmont Ave./41st St.  Entering through the doorway of this 1920s Julia Morgan-designed building brings you into a restaurant turned farm kitchen.  The staff is large, young, enthusiastic, and efficient.  A counter separates from the dining room a totally open exhibition kitchen, where you can easily see the chef and his minions preparing and plating and putting the final touches on your meal.  Almost everything is cooked on a custom-built almond wood-burning grill.  The menu is short and seasonal.  I’m crazy about the housemade bread and butter.  Fortunately, round loaves of the bread are available for purchase to take home.  Our shared appetizer was a delicious lemon-cured sardine with a potato cake and horseradish crme fraiche, and tagliatelle with fava beans and pecorino Romano.  Both were tasty and fresh and served in very small portions--we left nothing on the plate.  Main dishes are larger.  A fennel and kale-stuffed sole was delicate and satisfying, and a classic sliced pork roast served pink with potato gratin included also some nicely braised fall-apart pork belly.  A side of grilled asparagus with Meyer lemon salsa was superb.  For dessert, I was intrigued by the Arnold Palmer sherbet sundae and shortbread cookies that was offered but opted instead for the stupendous carrot cake with cream cheese icing, glazed pecans, and tiny plumped and sugared kumquats—lucky me!  Though good wines are available by the glass, the menu of beers is exceptional and what I will order from next time I visit.  Seating at wood block-style tables includes a few banquettes.  Large windows add to the light and airy feeling, original brick walls add a coziness, and kitchen antiques and artwork by local artists add charm.  I also like the mismatched vintage silverware and the salted caramels that come with the bill. 

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