In a town often known for its stick-to-your-ribs fare, Spirits & Tales’ new summer menu has sailed into town with the fresh flavors we’ve been craving for the season. Make no mistake, the dazzling dining hotspot at the top of The Oaklander still caters to a meat and potatoes crowd, but the diverse selections on the menu, paired with Executive Chef Chris Noonan’s philosophy of balance and brightness on every plate, have us truly ready to celebrate summer with spritzes in-hand.
Starting off with the new summer lunch menu, the Mediterranean Lettuce Wraps are as gorgeous as they are tasty. Topped with roasted garlic hummus, olives, roasted tomatoes, tangy feta, and perfectly punchy espelette peppers, the wraps make for a filling but super healthy entree or a fantastic shareable among friends, washed down with a bottle of crisp and bubbly Franciacorta. The Superfood Salad also had us at hello. Crispy chickpeas, avocado, blueberries, and pickled red onion piled high on top of baby kale with spirulina dressing so flavorful you forget that it’s good for you.
While we’ve always been fans of Spirits & Tales vegan-friendly radish toast to start any meal there, Chef Noonan’s Grilled Spanish Octopus is the new star of the small plates show. Accompanied with potatoes, fire-roasted tomato, and olive agrodolce, the flavors of this perfectly cooked dish are complex without being overwhelming. In keeping with the restaurant’s surroundings, Noonan’s summer dinner entrees are as gorgeous as they are tasty. The Orecchiette Pasta with prosciutto, bright green English peas, and tender fava beans is tossed in a surprisingly light goat cheese cream sauce and the Mediterranean Sea Bass featuring crispy skin Branzino, quinoa salad, and a shrimp and roasted corn cream with cilantro are some highlights. Noonan’s signature Sea Scallops are also a must. The freshest JU10 Sea Scallops are drizzled in hazelnut brown butter and topped with citrusy grapefruit segments to offset the richness of the hazelnut brown butter. The contrast hits all the right notes, resulting in luxurious and unexpected bites. The charred broccolini accompaniment provides an earthiness that makes this dish next level.
On to the spirit portion of this tale. Spirits & Tales has been known for its spirited twists on the classics since it came on the scene. In addition to one of the best rosé and bubbles lists in the region, the bar at Spirits & Tales deserves the same amount of shine for its seasonal cocktails. The refreshing Lemon Sage Spritz offers delicious relief on the hottest of days and the Millennial Breakfast features a combination of mezcal, avocado, coconut, lime, pineapple, orange, and Hellfire Bitters is substantive, smokey yet bright, and has a fantastically silky texture.
After indulging, we look out over Oakland on the 10th Floor patio at S&T and breathe in the iconic views of the fabric of this historic and innovative neighborhood. We can’t help but feel transported. The food and drink at Spirits & Tales take you on a special journey. Perhaps that is the point.