Mint Plaza, home of Blue Bottle, Mezzanine, Italian restaurant 54 Mint, a really great credit union, the occasional food truck, and (naturally) the Old Mint itself, has long cried out for a truly landmark eatery to tie the whole thing together. It’s about to get that in Oro, a two-story, gratuity-already-included, California-Mediterranean venture from Chef Jason Fox of Commonwealth.
Since sharing small plates paired with $12-$14 cocktails is practically mandatory at this point, it should come as no surprise that that’s what Oro’s all about. But a look at the menu shows that it’s not fooling around: hay-smoked carrots with sumac and lamb fat tahini ($5); stone fruit with burrata, sunflower seeds, and nasturtium pesto ($14); squid with sprouted grains, egg, and mint verde ($14); and fried anchovies with cucumber, sorrel, and whipped buttermilk ($13).
Charting a slightly different course is a menu section full of single bites, with sea urchin, scrambled egg, pickled jalapeño, and grilled bread ($6 each) and grilled lamb with plum, eucalyptus, and yogurt ($5 each) jumping out. The large plates are indeed quite large, each serving two people (and priced accordingly). Roasted whole trout with broccoli, summer pepper, and celery salsa ($49), and a porchetta with grilled cucumbers, potato, and horseradish ($68) seem the most tantalizing right off the bat.
Most intriguingly, Oro has a “blind tasting menu” (with the tagline “We choose, you enjoy”) that’s $75 per person with an optional $50 wine pairing. That could be slick method of unloading whatever the kitchen has a surplus of, or it could be a true dining-roulette adventure; we shall see. Either way, this postindustrial, art-filled space may be the puzzle piece that completes Mint Plaza itself while making the nearby Westfield’s food court cry. No offense meant to those orange chairs that everybody loves to sit on outside.
Oro, 8 Mint Plaza, 415-974-1212.