César & JoJo

Oakland is home to Derrick Schneider of Obsession With Food, his wife Melissa, and their friend Julie. I crossed the bridge to join them for dinner at César, a restaurant with two locations: one there in Oakland, the other in Berkeley right next door to Chez Panisse. As far as I remember, César the man spent time working at Chez Panisse (as most Bay Area chefs do) before opening up his own place. This won’t be a thorough review because, frankly, I’m getting burnt out writing about San Francisco grub (I’ve been back in New York since Friday!) so I will point out the dishes that I liked the most on this tapas-style menu.

But first, let’s ogle our hosts Melissa, Derrick and Julie:


The last time we saw Derrick and Melissa we were at Craft in New York and I ended that post by saying, “I really intend to come through on my promise to visit the Bay Area (where more momentous meetings await: Pim! Heidi! Alice Waters!) and we’ll eat Pacific oysters, drink wine, I’ll bring a pen and paper so I remember all the details for sure!”

How prophetic I was!

Well sort of. I didn’t drink wine (Derrick did), but instead I joined Melissa in trying a Hand of Buddha cocktail which you can see in the picture above. It was girlydrinkalicious!

Also I didn’t write much down. But we DID have an awesome oyster dish:


I can’t find the exact ingredients online, but I know there was Cava in there. Maybe a Cava gele? But the oysters were terrifically fresh.

My favorite dish was this green garlic flan:


I took more than my share and then scraped the plate clean, several times, with a stack of bread that I hoarded for myself too. I loved how the flan was sweet and savory at the same time, fresh tasting with the green garlic and surrounded by a flavorful sauce.

This is a tuna bocadillo:


Sort of a tuna sandwich. And also the best value on the menu.

And this was a salt cod puree:


Very well done. I liked it.

And we ate many more things, but those are the ones that I liked best (and also the ones whose photographs survived).

For dessert, we went to a place that should be a shrine for food blog fans everywhere–not only because it’s where Derrick and Melissa had their rehearsal dinner, but because it’s owned and presided over by friend of David Lebovitz, Mary Jo Thoresen. It’s called JoJo’s:


Mary Jo serves up some awesome desserts here. And you know you’re in good company when Melissa turns to the waitress and says, “Bring one of everything.”

I was still playing with my non-flash mode on my camera, so lots of pictures didn’t come out well, but you can see here a meyer lemon tart:


Isn’t that lovely, despite the grainy picture?

There was also this, and I honestly forget what it was but probably because there’s chocolate in it (I’m not a huge chocolate guy):


There were also two more desserts but my stomach reserves the right not to tell you anymore. Suffice it to say that should you find yourself in Oakland on a Wednesday night, you could do no better than to have dinner at César and dessert at Jojo. And make sure to talk to Mary Jo, she’s loads of fun. Look at the care packages she sends!

6 thoughts on “César & JoJo”

  1. Definitely a cava gelee on the oysters, and the unidentified dessert is a chocolate souffle cake, a fixture on the Jojo dessert menu (most of the other items shift about).

    Good seeing you!

  2. Neat! I’ve never heard of this restaurant before. All of the other ones have been mentioned to me one time or another, but never this one.

  3. I heard this rumor that Cesar used to be married to Alice Waters and then they had a nasty divorce and he opened up his tapas bar next door to spite her. But when I heard the story I thought that he had opened up a TOPLESS bar. So, yeah.

  4. The flan…those oysters…the cod…and of course the meyer lemon tart…I keep having dreams of these awesome dishes. I think I need to head back to Cesar’s and Jojo’s tomorrow to try everything again.

    It was great to meet you Adam!

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