Last weekend K and I wanted to go out for dinner, and we looked through a short list of places we'd been and places we still wanted to try. We finally decided on trying Bar César on Piedmont. The place is almost always busy, so that seemed a good sign.
The food is described as "bar food and tapas", which we took to mean small plates, not necessarily Spanish food. We got there fairly early on Saturday, and while it was busy, we were able to get a table right away. Although the website says "bar césar has the most extensive wine list [...] in the East Bay", it looked pretty sparse to us. Maybe there's a separate wine list with more than is on the regular menu, but in any case, we decided to go with some choices from their better looking beer list.
We ordered a variety of dishes, starting with a couple of salads: a pear salad (which I don't see on the menu on the website) for me, and a purple beets with grapefruit and avocado salad for K. Both were beautifully presented and delicious.
We also ordered plantains with black beans, which is a favorite of ours when visiting my parents in Miami. It was nicely presented and quite good, though not up to Little Havana standards. The only disappointment were the empanadas, which seemed bland and a bit soggy. K and I ate a lot of empanadas when we were Argentina, and locally we can get El Porteño empanadas at farmers markets and other events, so we know what we like in that department.
Overall, it was very good. Better than pub grub, good beer selection, good service. I'll go again, but there are a lot of good restaurants in Oakland to choose from.