Pig Out At The Gastropig
You’ll be forgiven if you leave this rollicking Oakland cafe, oinking.
After all, it just can’t be helped after chowing down happily at The Gastropig.
This sweet little spot is operated by Chef Loren Goodwin, who cut his chops on the line at Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
Amusingly enough, Goodwin was raised vegetarian. But after trying his first taste of ham as a kid, he instantly crossed to the “dark side.” Who can blame him?
The Gastropig is as pork-centric as they come — from the walls adorned with hammy sayings to the menu, itself.
This may be a casual breakfast, brunch and lunch spot, where you order at the counter, then wait for your food to be brought to you at the table, but everything is done with thought and care, from the fresh-squeezed OJ on.
When my husband and I dropped by last Sunday morning, Goodwin, who is one of the featured chefs in my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1), treated us to brunch.
Of course, I was craving the signature Baconslut Sandwich ($11), the recipe of which is featured in my cookbook. Who can resist that cheeky name? Well, OK, possibly Oracle, where when I held a book-signing at one of its campuses featured the sandwich in its employee cafeteria — but censored the name. Really.
It’s an irresistible, three-napkin kind of sandwich: crisp applewood-smoked bacon strips piled on top of an over-easy egg, melted cheddar, and smoky Aleppo aioli, all snuggled inside a brioche bun. It’s what you wish an Egg McMuffin could grow up and become some day.
It comes with a nice pile of simple greens tossed in a vinaigrette. I couldn’t resist adding the Waffle Iron Hash browns ($6) to it. These are the hash browns of my dreams. Because they are cooked in a waffle-iron, every inch gets super crisp and golden. So much so, you could pick these up with your fingers to eat, if you so desire. Melted cheddar and a sprinkle of chives go over the top to make them even more wonderful. I would come back again and again just for these hash browns.
My husband and I have a running joke about corned beef hash. We almost always order it when we see it on menus, even if most of them end up disappointing us. There have been times when I’ve ordered it, having been reassured by the server that it’s “home-made,” only to find what looks like the stuff out of the can on my plate. Sigh.
You won’t have that problem here. The corned beef hash ($15) is the real-deal, with big chunks of tender roasted corned beef tossed with home fries, caramelized onions and bell peppers. Slices of toasted sourdough are laid over the top of the hash, with two eggs over easy off to the side.
From time to time, Goodwin also makes a few specialty items, such as jarred jams or desserts. I managed to snag the last coconut panna cotta that day. Served in its own little mason jar, it’s actually vegan as it’s made with coconut milk. Smooth and creamy, it’s finished with a passion fruit glaze on top. Dig your spoon in deep to get a little bit of both for a tropical blast.
We left full, and happily oinking our way back home.
Another Fun Place in Oakland For Early Eats: Grandlake Kitchen