Tribune is Downtown Oakland’s Hottest ReservationSep 11, 2021 07:57PM ● By Fran Miller
BY Fran Endicott Miller
Located in downtown Oakland’s historic Tribune Tower building, from which its name is derived, the new Tribune restaurant is everything its ownership group promised when in December of last year they first announced its impending opening. This new American brasserie features creatively crafted cocktails, and vibrant, seasonal menu items influenced by the team’s French culinary training, all served within a classic downtown Oakland atmosphere that pays tribute to the building’s former life as home to the Oakland Tribune, once the East Bay’s primary daily news source.
It’s not so easy to open a restaurant during a pandemic, but Tribune operating partners Omri Aflalo and Darrin Ballon (OJD Group Inc.) were more than ready to meet the challenge. The industry veterans and business partners, each of whom have worked in fine dining kitchens all over the world, were excited for the opportunity to showcase their food and their casually elegant approach to service. The team worked with designer Jon De La Cruz, (known for his work at Che Fico, Leo’s Oyster Bar, and The Cavalier) to create an interior that evokes the vibe of the original 1923 Tribune Tower (note the original ceiling and marble floors) but with a modern eye. They enlisted designer Emily Shoop to create the digital design aesthetic that includes a hand drawn iteration of the Tribune’s iconic logo.
“We stripped away layers of previous renovations, bringing back some of the amazing architectural details like the beautifully ornate plaster crown moldings and wonderfully worn tile floors,” said De La Cruz.
They expanded the ceilings to their original height to create more light. Antique mirrors with burnished brass, tufted leather banquettes, and a palate of moody grays add warmth. The exterior, with its lacquered façade, is painted a whimsical creme de menthe hue that fits the neighborhood’s architectural style.
The building is special to both Aflalo and Ballon who were both raised in Oakland. “Growing up in Oakland, the Tribune building was always a beacon, an anchor in downtown,” said Aflalo. “We are excited to turn Tribune into the spot - a destination for Oakland diners and travelers alike.”
Tribune’s menu rotates seasonally, and features something for everyone. Mains include fish, chicken, and steak options, such as the 10 oz. dry age British Black Baldy NY steak with potato pave, charred arrowhead cabbage, red wine butter, broken beef jus, and green peppercorn ‘au poivre.’ Starters include brasserie favorites with a twist such as the Tribune Chopped Salad with local chicories, avocado, radish and creamy Roquefort dressing, and the Tenbrink Farms Tomato & Melon Salad with fresh burrata, lemon cucumber, toasted sunflower seed gremolata, and cilantro oil.
The pièce de résistance Tribune Burger (main photo) features a 6 oz. patty with little gem lettuces, house bread and butter pickles, and a red onion schmear, nestled atop a Firebrand sweet bun. And don’t miss the unusual G & S Farms Brentwood Creamed Corn - white corn pudding, butter popcorn, popcorn powder, pickled padron pepper, and cotija cheese.
Ballon is behind the beverage menu that features local, up-and-coming winemakers alongside old world producers. The wine list includes a robust offering of bottles and half bottles alongside six wines on tap. The cocktail list includes classics with a little kick, like the Bourbon and Cola with bourbon, Bruto, Amaro Ramazzotti, and Angostura, and the Town Breeze with Aviation American gin, Leopolds cranberry yuzuri, and cranberry and lime juices.
Photos courtesy of Tribune