Someday, when I am old and gray, I will explain to my grandchildren that there was once a time when the closest thing to craft beer in Oakland was Pyramid (which is in Berkeley), and the closest thing to gourmet sausages was the girl who sells bacon-wrapped hot dogs outside the Uptown (who I think might be my soulmate). I will tell them this, and I will lean back in my hovercraft and laugh and laugh. They will be incredulous.
Don’t get me wrong: I love sausages and beer, especially together. (It’s my fifth-favorite German invention, after amphetamines, the accordion, Rammstein, and efficiency.) And Rosamunde, Oakland’s latest purveyor of such, does a fully respectable job with both: a full sixteen craft beers on tap ($5-$8, mostly local and entirely well-chosen, plus a small handful of wines), some fifteen sausages, plus a rotating list of specials on the menu ($6-$6.50 with sundry toppings, each of them locally-sourced-and-well-made-taxonomy, three of them vegan, all sure to be discussed in greater and more informed detail by our food critic) — endless entubed-meat-and-alcohol-related possibilities, all told. The seating is copious and communal and the space itself — carved out of Swan’s Market, right next to Miss Ollie’s — is airy and contemporary, with concrete floors, sturdy dark-wood tables, and big street-facing windows. If you know the four-business chainlet’s Mission location (which you should), think that, but just the wee-est bit watered down — a bit cleaner, a bit lighter, a bit new in the way that a lot of stuff in Old Oakland feels new — though not unpleasant. There’s fewer arty black-and-white movies and more pro sports playing on the TVs, less metal on the soundsystem but more outdoor seating; make your judgment depending on how you feel about all of the above. You bus your own dishes, order at the counter, and pay in cash; considering that we now live in a universe where craft beer is fetishized to an occasionally distressing degree and Kobe beef bratwurst is An Actual Thing, its particular casualness is welcome.
Rosamunde is a not-at-all-offensive place, but it’s worth noting that it also joins The Trappist, Telegraph, and the forthcoming Hog’s Apothecary (see here) and Old Depot Public House on the vaguely-German-inflected-beer-and-sausagey-type-place-with-outdoor-seating-in-and-around-downtown-Oakland front. We may look back on this moment in time and ruefully recall the halcyon days before we reached PEAK SAUSAGE AND BEER and the bubble burst inelegantly, but that moment is clearly not now, or at least, there seems to be plenty of room for the new guy. On a Friday night around 9, about four weeks after the place opened, it was packed and convivial, to the point that strangers were squooshed up next to each other at the communal tables. Friends compared notes on the duck versus the lamb and the stout versus the IPA; I had an expectably delicious Linden Street Common Lager ($5) and an uncommonly good pickle ($1.75). And on a weekday during happy hour, it was a little less crowded, but reasonably busy, light pouring in through those big windows and Jus†ice playing on the stereo. A pair of friends strategized an upcoming breakup in one corner (Julian, whoever you are, I feel for you) and a big group of guys discussed the food at another (notable eavesdrop: “I don’t want figs in my sausage, man. I want meat scraps”). Peak sausage and beer, it seems, may be a ways off.