Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and when I saw that Clove and Hoof in Oakland was offering a special southern brunch for dinner earlier this month, I immediately went online and signed up. I have been hearing really good things about this place and couldn’t wait to finally check it out, and what better way than with my favorite meal!
Clove and Hoof is a neighborhood restaurant and whole animal butcher shop opened by John Blevins and Analiesa Gosnell, who carefully source their product from farms that don’t use antibiotics or hormones and practice responsible and humane methods of animal husbandry.
There is a retro airstream look and feel about the place that is homey and comfortable. l really like the fact that they only use local ranchers who use ethical practices – Jenner Family Beef provides the beef that is pasture raised, fed a corn-free vegetarian diet, and is humanely treated.
Chef John is from the south and said that we would soon be enjoying the flavors he grew up eating and I found that the meal was full of nostalgic comfort food. I was dining solo and they gave each table a plate full of house-made saltine crackers glistening with sea salt and dotted with rich cream cheese and candied chili jam and sprinkled with minced chives. The flavors reminded me of pimento cheese and the dense crunch of the cracker was very satisfying. I ordered an icy cold PBR, even though I was told that they were pouring bottomless mimosas on the house.
Our first course was a sophisticated version of pigs in a blanket, a full size frankfurter wrapped in a buckwheat pancake drizzled with smoked bacon maple syrup and red flame grape agro dulce. The hot dog was tender and garlicky, the flavors were outstanding and we gobbled this up with enthusiasm.
My jaw dropped when the next plate arrived, a wide bowl filled with Anson Mills grits, slices of summer squash, a handful of fried okra, root beer glazed pork belly, with a perfectly poached egg drizzled with fermented hot sauce over all. I popped the egg yolk which released a rich gravy for the buttery grits. The pork belly was sticky, moist and meaty, and was so good with the root beer reduction sauce that ringed the bowl.
Big plates began to arrive piled with two pieces of sweet tea vodka brined fried chicken, served over a split country biscuit, draped with tender greens, then drizzled with creamy sausage gravy. The chicken is golden and crispy on the outside, salty, sweet and tender in the middle. The gravy was thick and flavorful and lip smacking good, and I can never resist a tender flaky biscuit…
Each person was given their own tiny pail of Bomb Sauce, an intensely sweet and spicy condiment. I will admit that I wasn’t able to entirely finish the fried chicken but there were boxes on the counter for us to pack it up to go, along with little plastic tubs for the bomb sauce, because I didn’t want to go the way of the fat man in Monty Python’s movie The Meaning of Life.
Then came dessert, a wondrous bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme donuts with shiro dashi, served with a scoop of malted buttermilk ice cream, sprinkled with pieces of white shoyu peanut brittle and toasted sesame seeds. It was incredible! I was so full it was ludicrous that I was even allowed to be holding an eating utensil, but this was like no bread pudding I have ever had… it was so tender and luscious, each bite was like swallowing sweet custardy clouds. The flavors of the ice cream was umami rich and creamy, the peanut brittle had a wonderfully sticky crunchy texture and intense flavors that beguiled my fatigued tastebuds. My accursed spoon kept returning for just one more delicious bite…