At least six or seven new things have debuted in Oakland since the new year, and we neglected to mention yet another, Loring Café, which officially opened two weeks ago at 37 Grand Avenue. As we learned last August, it’s the project of Minnesota chef-restaurateur Jason McLean and his wife Abby McLean, and what they’ve done is essentially recreated the bohemian art and music café they first opened in 1986 on Loring Park in Minneapolis. They picked and moved their whole operation to Oakland, bringing with them some of the menu from their most recent incarnation, Loring Pasta Bar, and decorating the Uptown Oakland space in much the same style as their earlier restaurants — ecclectic furniture, Corinthian columns, wavy brick work, vintage lamps. Thrillist has some photos of the space, and we’ve got the menu for you below.
The plan is to feature live music on nights and weekends — there’s already a piano on the premises. And McLean’s previous projects have, in their vibe, been "homage[s] to the spirit of theater" — he also owns the Twin Cities music venue The Varsity Theater and the attached Café Des Artistes.
For now, there’s just beer and wine, but it sounds like a full liquor license will be arriving eventually.
As you can see, the menu is as ecclectic as the decor, but leaning toward Italian/Mediterranean. There’s house-made pasta, a signature baked artichoke dip, and Midwest-style cracker-crust pizzas — the breakfast/brunch menu also features "last night’s pizza," if it’s available. And there are entrées like chicken picatta, a coffee-crusted lamb loin, chili cumin salmon, and a Minnesota pork loin. See the details below.
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Loring Café - 37 Grand Avenue at Broadway - 510-839-3700 - Open Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (dinner served until 9:30 p.m. Fridays); Open for brunch and dinner noon to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
Loring Cafe [Thrillist]
Earlier: Minnesota Chef Jason McLean Bringing Loring Café to Oakland’s Uptown