I am excited for the opening of Tribune Tavern as it fills a hole in the Downtown Oakland business area.

In the area around 14th and Broadway, there are few places open for an after work drink and dinner, and even fewer places serving the kind of elevated bar food that Tribune has on its menu.

Tribune Tavern isn’t trying to push innovation, but they are true to the restaurant group’s motto of “quality ingredients, perfectly executed.” That is accomplished in spades.

The quality and execution is there, along with being at a price point that will encourage downtown diners to make Tribune Tavern a regular place to eat. For example, while there is a $40 steak entree, it is 20 ounces of well-marbled ribeye. Would I order the steak every time I visit? Probably not. But I wouldn’t feel ripped off either, given the portion size and the price you would pay for a steak of comparable quality and size, at many Bay Area restaurants. Steaks aside, the entrees on the menu are almost all under $20.

As a follow-up to our experience doing friends and family night and Lungomare, I went to the friends and family night at Tribune Tavern, part of the restaurant group that includes Chop Bar and Lungomare.

Friends and family night is essentially a preview night for a restaurant to see how the service and menu are working with actual customers. In exchange for getting showered with food and drink, you get to give feedback on the food and service.

What I found interesting was that half the “customers” get a menu that features one half of the menu, and the other half of the customers, get the other half of the menu. Because management wants all of the staff to get a feel for how the menu and service work, we had a lot of attention from the servers.

My friend and dining companion has Don Draper style tastes that get described as “dry” and “neat” so she ordered Rickey Tiki Tavi, a whiskey version of a lime Rickey. I, on the other hand, have Betty Draper tastes leaving towards the sweet and fruity, so I ordered the Vic’s Fix, a take on a Mai Tai with almond foam.

Both met our needs exceptionally well. I loved the almond foam on the Vic’s Fix, which gave it a creamy texture.

For food, we ordered from the “Pot o’ Meat,” “Smaller,” and “Bigger” sections of the menu. As I said, Tribune Tavern really delivered on their motto of “quality ingredients, perfectly executed.”

I highly recommend the chicken liver pate and pork belly rillette. The richness of the meats was offset by well-seasoned pickles and berry jams.

Standouts from the entree part of the menu include the pasta with oxtail ragu, which seems like a lovely callback to both Chop Bar’s oxtail poutine and Lungomare’s homemade fresh pasta. The pasta had a nice chew and the oxtail ragu was well seasoned.

I think the restaurant group has a particular affinity for fish because I had a wonderful piece of fish at Lungomare and found the rock cod at Tribune Tavern to be worthy of the “quality ingredients, perfectly executed” label. I’d also give a huge shout out of appreciation to the colcannon, the traditional Irish side dish of mashed potatoes and cabbage that came out not just creamy, but crispy as well.

Finally, for dessert, I would come back for the sticky toffee pudding that was sweet, a bit tart from the addition of caramelized bananas, and made texturally interesting by the use of cashews.

Tribune Tavern is now open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday, and dinner on Saturday.

Tribune Tavern

401 13th St.

Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 452-TRIB

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