The Barrel Room Rockridge
5330 College Ave., Oakland
Status: Opening tomorrow
Tendernob wine gem The Barrel Room is crossing the Bay to Oakland tomorrow night, with the debut of its Rockridge spinoff. Proprietor-sommeliers Sarah Trubnick and Carolyn Johnson are behind the expansion project, which was jumpstarted when the duo tried to open an SF retail shop to meet customer demand. Stymied by the tough real-estate market, they found a more affordable space in Rockridge, which ended up having room for retail, a wine bar, and food service. The focus remains small-production wines, along with an expanded menu offering by chef Sam Paulding, formerly of Paulding & Company and Oliveto.
Paulding's French-influenced menu is hearty and designed for pairing, with a mix of plates both small (Brie in puff pastry, duck-wing drumettes confit) and large plates (pork with prunes, duck confit cassoulet with Toulouse sausage, boeuf bourguignon croustades). The menu will cycle through dishes every two months with the changing of seasons and wines, so look out for frequent new additions. Like the original location, this new spot will also offer classic charcuterie options to pair with Trubnick and Johnson's signature wine flights.
As anyone who's visited The Barrel Room knows, a rotating monthly menu of wine flights is the name of the game, with quaffable educational forays to France, Germany, Italy, and lesser-known wine production regions like the Greek islands, Hungary and Croatia. Nearly 50 wines will be available by the glass and over 200 by the bottle, offering a little something for everyone from the novice to the know-it-all wine enthusiast. That includes beer drinkers, who'll be able to sample international and local craft beers on offer as well. Peter Steiner, who was the wine director at Rivoli and Trattoria Corso, will be helping out Johnson and Trubnick.
The new space boasts a 30-seat dining room with redwood accents and furniture, and a stylish pressed-tin ceiling. Unlike the original location, there's no fireplace, but sidewalk bistro tables will give guests the option of alfresco dining and drinking when the weather turns warmer. Barrel Room Rockridge will be open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 am-12 pm, with the kitchen closing at 10:30 pm.