Chef Charlie Hallowell has made quite the impact with his numerous restaurants in Oakland.
His first restaurant is the beloved Pizzaiolo and his second restaurant Boot & Shoe Service is just as popular. Penrose, his third restaurant, is the largest out of the three and focuses on wood fired cooking. All three restaurants rely on local and seasonal produce which I absolutely love. When I dined here, it was quite a hot day so we ordered fresh light small dishes instead of their larger wood fired dishes.During happy hour they have a pretty good deal on oysters. These oysters actually came with a happy hour drink and I could have easily ordered more. Clean, crisp, and just a touch of brininess. A vibrant crudo dish with meaty albacore tuna, tart tomatillo, crunchy celtuce, and a kick from the jalapeño. Simple but perfect for a hot day. I pretty much love any type of soup and this was so appropriate for that hot day. Silky smooth cooling gazpacho with fruity olive oil and a fresh tomato salsa in the middle with aromatic herbs. So delicious! Who doesn’t love avocado toast?! It might be basic but it’s just soooo good and always hits the spot. The addition of dukkah (a blend of spices and nuts) just amped up the flavor and texture. Whether it’s the Italian classic of prosciutto and cantaloupe, cured ham just goes so well with fruit. This version had juicy sweet melon slices with fresh and candied figs, salty serrano ham, aromatic mint, and crunchy raw fennel. Any type of stuffed fried squash blossom is right up my alley but the filling slightly lacked some salt. The corn purée underneath however was deliciously sweet and the juicy cherry tomatoes and raw slices of summer squash were perfect accompaniments. Salted caramel ice cream is one of my favorite flavors ever. The chocolate cookies were good but not great, I typically like my cookies a little more on the chewy side. Apple tart or tarte tatin is literally the way to my heart. I love the caramelized fruit paired with creamy melty ice cream.
What I liked the most about my meal at Penrose was just the freshness of all the ingredients. The majority of the dishes were seasoned great, just elevating the flavors of already amazing vegetables and fruit. My overall rating is a 7.5-8/10.