plum bar doorwayPlum Bar has been open for business in Uptown Oakland for two years now, and within that time it has been attached to Plum, a fine dining restaurant that has undergone many changes since first opening. Daniel Patterson, the celebrity chef behind the two-star Michelin restaurant Coi, opened up Plum as a fine dining destination for the rapidly evolving restaurant scene in downtown Oakland. Most recently, Plum rebranded itself as Ume, with a Japanese-inspired small plates menu that offered cheaper food. After six months, Ume was scrapped. All the while, Plum Bar sat next door and has garnered a regular crowd and the ability to pack the place on busy Friday nights. With that in mind, Plum Bar recently closed and a door was put in, connecting Plum Bar to Plum. There is now no longer any difference between Plum Bar and Plum. They have been united as Plum Bar + Restaurant, with one menu for food and drinks.

Plum Bar has appealed to many Oakland drinkers who wish to elevate their palates and explore the weirder side of alcohol. At Plum Bar, the emphasis is on house-made ingredients, and they make everything from bitters to liqueurs to barrel aged cocktails to ginger beer. At Plum Bar, their creation of custom liqueurs leads to an exciting cocktail menu unlike other fare in Uptown. Most cocktails on the menu contain something you may have never heard of before: crème de rose, falernum, malort, cynar. All these ingredients are artfully displayed as part of the décor, with various weird colored bottles and barrels lining the wall.

While the cocktail menu remains consistent from before the change, the food menu has been totally revamped. There are a few holdovers from the old menu, such as the paprika fries and the burger, and ramen makes an appearance as an homage to the late Ume. A spam slider comes out on a biscuit with melted cheese, looking less like a slider and more like a sandwich that can hold its own. Inspired by Chef Ron Boyd’s mother’s original recipe, it’s a tasty, filling option that far surpasses what one thinks of when “spam” is mentioned and lives up to the high expectation of culinary excellence and innovation evident at Plum Bar. The small $5 plates and $7 plates come out in generous portions that aren’t expected for a place as fancy as Plum Bar. The entrée selections have been expanded to include hearty salads, sandwiches and other filling options such as meatballs and pork chops. And, better yet, soft-serve ice cream makes a debut as the dessert option.

The restaurant side remains similar in design, and it is now being used more as a party lounge. Larger parties of four or more will feel comfortable on the restaurant side, and several punch bowl options on the drink menu are available for slaking your group’s thirst. The bar side remains ideal for smaller groups and casual dates. Plum Bar will be open for both lunch and dinner throughout the week, as well as the late-night crowd on weekends.

The new look at Plum Bar proves that you can never have too much of a good thing, and the expansion of Plum Bar proves that Oakland is ready for more high-end cocktailing. So, if you’re in the mood to try something outre and out-there, or if you’re just in the mood for quality drinks in a beautiful atmosphere, that’s the perfect excuse to head over to Plum Bar.

About The Author

Pilar Vree is an East Bay native who bartends at Penrose. She runs the blog Oakand Alcohol, Fuck Feast, and the Instagram account @oaklandalcohol.

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