Here's the thing about Oakland's food renaissance: There are plenty of cities that do a better job with white-linen fine dining and three-hour tasting menus. Where Oakland is king is its wealth of inexpensive restaurants where the vibe is chill, but the food is so searingly good it'll stop you dead in your tracks. So it is that a casual Afro-Caribbean restaurant is the best, and most exciting, new restaurant to open in the East Bay this year. At Miss Ollie's, lunch is unlikely to cost more than $10, and twenty bucks will buy you a veritable feast at dinnertime. And what a feast: seafood porridge infused with the intoxicating deep-sea flavor of sea urchin roe; ackee and salt fish, a wonderful down-home version of one of the world's great breakfast foods; and savory split-pea fritters. Oh, and in case you haven't heard, chef Sarah Kirnon's fried chicken — the meat perfumed with vinegar-soaked herbs and perfectly skillet-fried — might be the best you'll ever taste.
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