Iron & Oak Isn’t Your Typical Hotel Restaurant

The new downtown Oakland eatery is far from soulless.



The Big Beast awaits Iron & Oak patrons at the Marriott.

Photos by Lori Eanes

Hotel restaurants suffer from some stark stereotypes: Most people think they’re generic, soulless, and, worst of all, in an era that lauds the local, interchangeable.

Part of a multimillion-dollar renovation project that transformed the Oakland Marriott City Center last fall—giving the venerable hotel 500 newly redesigned guest rooms and sleekly quirky only-in-Oakland suites—Iron & Oak smites those stereotypes from Square One.

“When we were trying to choose a name, we wondered: What do we have here in Oakland? What hasn’t been celebrated sufficiently?” said Iron & Oak’s food and beverage director Efren Sanchez.

“Oakland’s most iconic elements are its shipyards and the commerce that has sustained Oakland throughout its long history,” Sanchez said. “As you drive into Oakland, you see those tall cranes. Why not embrace them and what they represent” rather than dismiss them as dull generic geometrics obstructing bay views?

 

The Iron & Oak features a beguiling interior.

Pair the ubiquitous industrial metal with the city’s iconic tree, ask downtown apparel outfit Oaklandish to design an ampersand-tastic logo, and you’ve got Iron & Oak, whose urban-organic, three-meals-a-day ambience includes booths, communal wooden tables, broad columns, beams, multiple big screens, and signature dishes such as Alameda IPA-battered fish and chips; street-style tacos with cabbage slaw and cotija cheese; house-made bread pudding; and the “Big Beast Board,” a family-style platter of slow-roasted lamb shank with roasted vegetables, flatbread, and salsa verde.

East Bay companies whose fare is a fixture here include Fra’Mani Salumi, Mariposa Baking Co., Starter Bakery, the Pasta Shop, Taylor’s Sausage, and more.

During the planning, “we spoke with Oakland residents who revealed that they needed a place to hang out and have fun downtown without having to drive very far or at all,” said sales and marketing director Chris Halteh. “Local residents wanted to enjoy local flavors in a warm atmosphere while working on their laptops or watching big events on the screens.

“We also wanted to introduce Oakland to hotel guests who might never have been here before. We wanted to bring Oakland into the restaurant, so that those guests would be inspired to go out and explore the rest of the city on their own.”

Iron & Oak, Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, 510-451-4000, Deals.Marriott.com/marriott-hotels-resorts/usa/ca/oakland/ironoak.

 

Published online on March 3, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

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