Uptown Oakland's Plum was Daniel Patterson's first expansion from his much-lauded Coi, and it's a restaurant that initially struggled to find its footing, as a revolving door of chefs (Lauren Kiino, Charlie Parker, Manfred Wrembel) made it hard for it to establish a consistent voice. But while the restaurant finally earned its culinary wings under chef Kim Alter (formerly of Patterson's other Oakland restaurant, Haven), its fine-dining focus, higher price point, and slower-paced service were somewhat challenging with a young, often pre-theater crowd. And so, as Inside Scoop reports, Plum is becoming a more casual Japanese-influenced spot called Ume (that would be Japanese for "plum") on Tuesday. And to add further excitement to the mix, its chef will be the hotly contested Brett Cooper, who has finally chosen a next move after ending his award-winning tenure at Outerlands.
Cooper's kitchen takeover at Ume is part of a larger deal he's struck with Patterson. In exchange for helping the new concept get off the ground, Patterson will go into an equal partnership with Cooper to open a new SF restaurant in a to-be-determined location. Cooper, who worked with Patterson for several years at Coi before joining Outerlands, will have final say on matters culinary and decorative, but Patterson will provide logistical help and funding. What's more, the deal also has implications for Alter: Patterson is planning to open yet another San Francisco restaurant (also still TBD) as a showcase for her.
But in the meantime, Ume is the order of the day. The restaurant won't be traditionally Japanese, but will use a number of locally-made ingredients like umeboshi, yuzu kosho, and miso. Some of the dishes on the proposed menu are glazed pork ribs, cold soba noodles, barbecued chicken thighs, and cabbage dumplings. There's also a fried chicken and egg ramen that should become a hot ticket, and a couple of other noodle and rice bowls. Almost everything on the menu, except the larger entrees, is under $10. As for the two remaining components of Plum, Alter and neighboring Plum Bar, they'll continue to be in the mix: Plum Bar is staying exactly as it is now, while Alter will join Parker (who recently returned to the group to head up Haven) in his kitchen until her SF place gets sorted out.