Temescal already has its church of cheese and pantheon to pork, so now let us take a moment to welcome its latest arrival: a brand new cathedral for the carnivorously inclined: Clove & Hoof, a butcher and sandwich shop on the corner of Broadway and 40th Street.
Opened by Analiesa Gosnell, the general manager and John Blevins, executive chef, the pair has a wealth of butchery experience, working at such places as Café Rouge and 4505 Meats between them, and most recently, studying butchery in France.
Clove & Hoof specializes in whole animal butchery, and its gleaming display case has multiple cuts and varieties of grass-fed animals from Jenner Family Beef and Magruder Lamb, to name a few, to choose from.
The interior offers a homey-kind of vibe, with plenty of counter seats facing the windows. The mismatched silverware and paper napkins sit in large cans on the tables. A refrigerator case full of meat stocks and house-made sauerkraut and kimchi greets you when you first line up at the counter, with multicolored jars of house-made pickles on shelves above them. Clearly, they are going for an old-time vibe as is evident by their beverage selection, which includes Milwaukee’s Best in the beer department, Boylan’s Seltzer and IBC Rootbeer for the soft drinks, as well as no one’s favorite, Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink.
In the open kitchen, employees are both breaking down animals and making sandwiches. Toward the back, a glass case full of cookbooks holds an impressive collection, including the six-volume Modernist Cuisine by Microsoft cofounder Nathan Myhrvoid, which retails for over $500. The message seems to be: “We aren’t f#%^&* around.”
While the place was still in soft opening when we visited, and its charcuterie program should be rolling out soon, with entrées and dinner service happening by early next year, the menu looked so enticing that as neighbors, we couldn’t help ourselves but stop in. We wanted to sample the sandwiches, and bring along some hungry friends with us. But given its soft opening mode, and the fact that they solicited feedback from us about our meal, let’s consider this a preview, rather than a review.
We had a choice of six sandos to choose from, five of them meat and one vegetarian. While it’s difficult to fathom why a vegetarian would come here, there are those occasions when one is in a larger group and gets overruled, and it’s great they are doing more than paying lip-service to veggies, as their one veg sandwich does sound worth trying: lager-steamed broccoli florets with warm beer cheese fondue, broccoli stem sauerkraut and pickled mustard seeds on a French hero roll. I don’t think I’ve ever had a broccoli cheese sandwich before, and with all the other offerings, it was a no-brainer that we were not going to choose this one, but I give them points for originality. I’ve also seen they do an egg salad with kimchi, but that was not on offer when we were there.
If you don’t want to read further, here’s the essential info: we loved what we ate and we will be back, though making this place a daily habit could be hazardous to one’s health. Here’s what we tried.
The Cuban $14: porchetta di testa, smoked loin, roasted persimmon mustard, fermented dill pickles, and gruyere on a hero roll – this wasn’t your garden variety ham and cheese. It tasted more bacon-y – and therefore ,fatty – than a traditional Cuban. Because of the house-made mustard, the predominant flavor was sweet. Loved it.
The Cheese Steak $15: thinly-sliced sirloin, onion confit, grilled trumpet mushrooms, pickled okra and warm beer cheese fondue on a hero roll. Given that a cheese steak is usually just a steak sandwich with cheese (or Cheese Whiz, in certain parts, like Philadelphia, where it originated) this was a vast improvement on the original. However, with the richness of the cheese fondue and mushrooms, we felt it tasted a bit like beef stroganoff in a roll. The pickled okra could have been played up to cut the richness, as it was barely noticed. Again, loved it, but not sure I’d order it again.
The Fried Chicken $13: with fish sauce caramel, Old Bay Butter, apple celery leaf slaw, and pomegranate seeds on a French hero roll. This sando was comprised of two juicy thighs, which by the time they were battered and fried, looked ginormous; with a salad, it could easily be split by two people. The chicken was still pink inside, rarer than most people like, but we didn’t find that to be a problem. We loved the sweetness the caramel added, as well as the tanginess of the pomegranate seeds. Barely tasted the Old Bay butter, but didn’t miss it. It takes guts to do a fried chicken sandwich within a mile of here without the inevitable comparisons to Bakesale Betty’s, but they’ve managed to come up with a worthy competitor. Loved it.
C & H Burger $14: two 4-ounce beef patties, caramelized onion jam, pimento cheese, chopped romaine and pickle mayo on a rustic roll: Who doesn’t love a good burger? Unfortunately, this one is not in the running, yet. This was the least successful sandwich, it too wet, a bit of a mess, — and not in the finger-licking, good way – with the flavors muddled. A slice of cheese would have been preferred rather than a gloppy sauce. Also the patties themselves could have had more char. Liked it but didn’t love it. All sandos came with a small side salad of mixed greens, nothing fancy but a fine side.
A small serving of cassoulet at $4 was perhaps the best bargain on the menu, and one of the tastiest. Earthy and rich, it was perhaps overkill with sandwiches like these, but that’s kind of the point at a place like this, isn’t it? As were the hand-cut beef tallow fries $4, served with a side of (not enough) pickle mayo.
We split a salad four ways: shaved apples and persimmons, arugula, apple butter vinaigrette, Point Reyes blue crema and toasted walnuts $11, which was a great way to cut all the heaviness of the meal. The crema was in a puddle at the bottom, meaning I didn’t notice it until later, and actually loved the freshness of the salad even without the crema because it was such a needed contrast to everything else. The arugula/fruit/nut/cheese combo can seem so overdone, but there’s a reason there’s a version in so many restaurants, because it just works. The apple butter vinaigrette was a new twist, and it’s good to know that the vegetarian dishes here don’t get short shrift.
But again, who would come to a place called Clove & Hoof to order a salad? When meat is offered this way, this consciously, with this much thought put to how it’s raised and what accoutrements best suit it, it’s almost a crime not to order it.
Clove & Hoof: 4001 Broadway, Oakland. Open Weds – Sun 11 am to 6 pm. Connect with them on Facebook.
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