Restaurant Review: Oakland, California

Ordinaire


Bradford Taylor opened Ordinaire while working on his PhD in English at Berkeley, studying the concept of taste in early 20th-century European novels. He modeled the store on the Parisian caves á manger, wine shops that also serve food and drink—establishments Taylor frequented back when he was working in a Paris bookshop. Like many of its Parisian counterparts, his small shop on Grand Avenue near Lake Merritt is stocked with natural-leaning wines. But it’s not all French. In fact, California is represented more than anything else, the local wines organized by region rather than variety. In early spring, there were spritely rosés from all over the state, from the Sonoma Coast (Cep) and the Sierra Foothills (Edmunds St. John) to Lake County (Arnot-Roberts). Thirsty and hungry? Settle into one of the two communal wooden tables and order a plate of salami and a glass of Matthiasson aglianico on tap, or just grab a bottle off the shelf and pop it open (there’s a $10 markup on the bottles, with the fee waived for wines over $35). On a recent visit, the soundtrack was Jamaican—Toots and the Maytals’ infectious proto-reggae, perfectly in tune with a sunny afternoon in Oakland.