We are Wine Lovers but must admit that we haven’t been to a Wine Bar since our favorite, Rick’s Wine Cellar, in Marin was sold about a year ago. We really enjoy learning about and finding new wines to enjoy, so we ventured to The Barrel Room. They have a location in San Francisco and just opened on College Avenue in Oakland and offer 50 wines by the Glass and over 200 by the Bottle. They feature educational Wine Tasting Flights to pair with excellent California cuisine and they sell wine retail as well. You can select one of their ever changing flights or ask for help, tell them what you generally like and let them select wines to fit your preferences. We enjoyed chatting with one of the Proprietors/Sommeliers Carolyn Johnson who has a tremendous love of wine and enjoys helping you find new small production wines that are a little adventurous!
The rustic yet modern décor features stylish old growth Redwood topped tables, an inviting Bar, and atmospheric library walls of their wine selections. A candle placed on each table adds romantic ambience to your evening and there are large windows facing College Avenue giving the room an open feeling. Jazz vocals in background also added to the civilized mood. In warm weather, you can enjoy Sidewalk Bistro seating in front.
We enjoyed a White Flight and a Red Flight and appreciated that each wine glass was labeled with all the details about the wines. That always helps.... as you can taste each wine and easily keep track of what you’ve tasted! Our favorite white wines were the 2011 Oro en Paz Lake County Sauvignon Blanc which was perfectly balanced, lively and slightly tart and the 2009 Crazin “le Petit Chambord” Loire Valley Cour – Cheverny Romoratin which was a bit more aromatic. They paired well with our starters from their wine friendly seasonal California/French cuisine menu. The Small Plates were all delicious and everything is so reasonably priced. We loved the Roasted Dates which were stuffed with Blue Cheese and walnuts then wrapped in pancetta. The Brandade of True Cod made with cream and potato and served with toasts was also excellent. We also enjoyed the Chicory Greens with apple, blue cheese and walnuts which was quite refreshing. These three starters really paired well together.
As our evening progressed, our favorite red wine was the 2011 Domaine Combier Rhone Crozes-Hermitage Syrah which was richer than most Syrahs and paired well with our Large Plates. We enjoyed the Boeuf Bourguignon Croustade which was very flavorful and the pastry was flakey and not too rich. We also loved the Porc aux Pruneaux which was juicy and extremely tender baked with luscious prunes. The Desserts were both perfect. We loved both their freshest creamiest Crème Brule and the Chocolate Mousse which was just rich enough and delicious. An Uncommon Café Mocha Java coffee went well with our desserts.
The Barrel Room exceeded our expectations! We enjoyed excellent cuisine, visited with other wine lovers and found some new small production wines that we enjoyed. We purchased a few bottles of the 2011 Oro en Paz to take home.... and look forward to returning soon to chat with the Owners/ Sommeliers Carolyn and Sara who will introduce us to some other new selections from various countries!
The Barrel Room
5330 College Avenue
Oakland, CA. 94618