Oakland: Pican

Wait.. WAIT Ms Fatty..yet another Southern foods post? Why yes readers, another Southern foods post, except this isn’t your “average” Southern, oh yes there’s fried chicken, mac n cheese and shrimp n grits.. but it was the BEST shrimp n grits I’ve ever had in my entire LIFE!

My friend Sytha asked me where I’d like to go for my belated birthday dinner, I let her choose, when she suggested an upscale Southern restaurant in Oakland I popped to their website right away to check out their menu. It looked interesting enough, not the gut bomb of Hard Knox (I adore gut bombs!) but a hybrid of Southern charm and fresh Californian twists. A fusion joint, I know, I’m pretty weary of these types of places, but my girl Sytha hasn’t steered me wrong yet when it comes to food, so we semi-dressed up, and prowled the blocks surrounding Grand and Broadway for parking (serious suckage of street parking in that area). I was surprised such a gorgeous restaurant was in Oakland. Being one of the few to crop up in the newly resurged “Uptown” region of Oakland, it was surrounded by other higher end eateries I haven’t heard of. After moving back to Oakland a year ago, I confess I haven’t done such a great job of exploring the food scene outside my comfortable go-tos. Another big plus, there were some seriously cute guys hanging out at Pican and around the area, I definitely need to hang out in that area some more!

The restaurant itself is beautiful. High ceilings, tall windows, lots of dark wood and rich colors that evokes thoughts of elegant Speakeasies, tables and chairs set the perfect width away from your neighbors, lovely bar and lounge area and a selection of Bourbon that would make your eyes pop. Yea, it’s one of those joints, most cocktails are bourbon based and since I’ve felt more “grown up” lately and left my drunken vodka days behind to preferring only champagnes and “sippin’” liquors, I had to get one of their luscious drinks. Yes, this is why my brothers call me ‘Bougie’ at times. My favorite part was the open kitchen, watching the head chef expedite then jump on to the line as it got busier, I’ve always been fascinated with kitchen life. Did I mention one of the waiters was looking pretty yummy? Oh yes he was!

We wanted to order practically the whole menu, our waitress was great in curbing our orders, when we over ordered, she mentioned it might be too much and would be more than happy to place the orders later if we really needed it. Having never been there before and unsure of portion sizes, Sytha and I listened, ordered our beautiful cocktails and food then sat back and enjoyed the scene. Did I mention there were some finnnnnnnne men walking in and out of the lounge area? Mmm hmm.

Pican
2295 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 834-1000
PicanRestaurant.com

Southern Peach Squeeze (10)
Woodford Reserve Bourbon, peach puree, lemon juice, seltzer water

Lovely, strong Bourbon taste, I thought the peaches softened the drink just right.

Lavender Lemon Drop (10)
Rain Lavender Vodka; rock candy syrup; fresh lemon juice; lavender syrup

Sytha’s cocktail, it was mostly sugary to me, I couldn’t find the Lavender anywhere in it, neither could Sytha.

Cornbread & Soft Butter

Sweet, soft and succulent. I thought Hard Knox’s cornbread was much better, but this was lovely still and I ate 3 pieces.

Goat Cheese “Beignets” (10)
Savory fritters of local goat cheese with collard greens pesto and aleppo pepper

I didn’t like it being called a “beignet”, because I was imagining soft pillows of dough with a creamy goat cheese center. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely delicious regardless of name. The tangy goat cheese fritters were perfectly seasoned with a soft center and fried to a lovely crisp. Not overly fried, not greasy and was delicious paired with the collard greens pesto. I’ve never had collard greens pesto before, just another example of that “Californian” twist the restaurant advertises.

Low Country Shrimp & Grits (13)
Sautéed wild Texas shrimp with andouille sausage, stone ground grits and a lemon garlic gravy

I’m still reeling at how amazing this dish was. I’ve had shrimp and grits, but never had I experience shrimp and grits this perfect. The grits were cooked perfectly, creamy and soft. The shrimps were plump, juicy and fresh. The lemon garlic gravy wasn’t over powering and let the natural sweetness of the shrimp and grits sing. Yes, this dish spoke to me, sang to me, made love to me and I loved every little bite and slid down my throat causing my taste buds endless amounts pleasure. Am I getting carried away? Oh noooo, I want more now!

Cast Iron Seared Mississippi Catfish (24)
With succotash of sweet corn, hominy & heirloom beans, roasted lemon and crawfish brown butter

Plump juicy center cut filet, right amount of spices and a wonderful “char” from the cast iron skillet and done to moist flaky perfection. The crawfish brown butter sauce was quite lovely though needed to be just a little thicker, that roasted lemon I squeezed on everything tied it all together. *smacks lips*

Buttermilk Southern Fried Chicken (23)
Crisp natural chicken with smoked gouda mac ‘n cheese

Sytha’s dish was quite nice, classic pairing of chicken and mac n cheese. The bit of chicken I tried was juicy, very well cooked and on the bone! The mac n cheese was amazing! I loved the heady smoky cheesy flavor, wonderful consistence, very creamy with the pasta still holding shape. It was baked (+100000!!) and served bubbling hot. Will have to get a side order of this next time!

Great meal, service was a little slow here and there, the dessert menu looked wonderful but we were both so stuffed we couldn’t eat another bite. Will have to try that “Bourbon & Coke” dessert plus the andouille & scallion hush puppies that we didn’t have room for this time around. Two thumbs up Pican and “Uptown” Oakland; thank you Sytha for a great night <3!

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