Hutch: Southern Comfort on Oakland's Restaurant Row

The Bay Area's boomlet of Southern cooking continues directly behind the Paramount Theatre in Uptown Oakland. Across the street from a defunct wig store, Hutch is a restaurant worth getting on BART for.

From bar snacks like pimento cheese up through the raw bar — with its $18-per-person platter of oysters, shrimp, salmon, crawfish remoulade and anchovies — and into the entrees, Hutch has something for every palate and at every price. The buttery smoked salmon is a perfect example. Served on a mound of citrus-y shaved fennel and dotted with hot mustard and rehydrated with bourbon, it's excellent, it's presented as a Rorschach test — is that a crawfish? — and it's only $8, which is actually almost shocking.

However, it's the meaty Sunday Suppers that are going to be a draw. Past dinners have offered fried chicken, spaghetti with meat sauce, a whole roasted leg of lamb, and a Memphis style, dry-rubbed and roasted pork shoulder — all with the requisite sides. Preface the mighty meal with a Two Jacks Sazerac (Laird's applejack, Peychaud's bitters, St. George absinthe, and house-made simple syrup), a Boulevardier (bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth and a cherry) or a Mai Tai that approximates Trader Vic's. After all, the presence of bowls of semi-zested citrus on a bar practically guarantees that the cocktails will be top-notch.

Airy without being cavernous, and illuminated by skylights and huge iron chandeliers, Hutch is a great space, well-designed but casual. Two photographic tetraptychs of bridges grace the long wall. (One is the Bay Bridge; we'll play coy on the identity of the other, but you'll never guess it in a million years).

Between Duende, Make Westing, Flora, Rudy's Can't Fail and others, that stretch of Telegraph is definitively becoming the East Bay's Valencia. Maybe Paula Deen could relaunch her career at Hutch, as a scullery maid or something.

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