576 Grand Ave, Oakland 94610 | 510.922.9582 | website
Hours: 9 am – 10 pm everyday but Tuesday (closed)
brunch until 3 pm | happy hour 4 – 6 pm | dinner 5 – 10pm
Mr. K and I really miss our old stomping grounds at Lake Merritt, and we still love to shop at the fabulous Grand Lake Farmer’s Market on Saturday, then go to our new favorite breakfast spot, the Grand Lake Kitchen. It’s very popular, so we try to get there when they open at 9 otherwise you will have to wait in line.
The restaurant began as a deli/diner when it opened in late 2012 by Dave Wasem, a former sous chef at Park Tavern in San Francisco, and his wife, May Seto Wasem, a former manager at Delfina. They served healthy and affordable sandwiches, salads, a varied deli selection, as well as a small but well-curated section of grocery items from a cozy 12-seat counter with some outdoor tables. They recently expanded to take over the space next door which allows them to better accommodate the hungry crowds, increase the existing menu, and introduce an expanded, brand-new dinner menu, including a new cocktail program.
The amenities are excellent, pepper grinders, a bottle of chilled water, very good coffee, and I just noticed that you can get those wonderful Beauty’s bagels here too!
Best of all, there is a Grand Lake Kitchen Pokestop! I am a newbie player who lives and works out in the ‘burbs, so I consider this to be living large my friends… because I got to repeatedly spin the wheel for free stuff while enjoying my meal.
Back to the food…
One of my favorites is the Savory French Toast ($13)– Thick slices of rustic rye bread lightly dipped in porcini batter then griddled, topped with two poached eggs, parmesan, baby arugula tossed in herb oil and served with sautéed wild mushrooms. The eggs are perfect, they are liquid but thick and oozy, yielding a creamy rich sauce for the mushrooms and crusty bread, and goes so well with the bright acidity of the dressed greens.
You can also order it with prosciutto (+$3), which was a generous addition, paper thin slices looking very meaty draped over the eggs. Honestly, I liked it better plain.
Mr. K loves the soft scrambled eggs ($12)– they are slowly cooked to a tender custardy texture, topped with smoked cheddar on thick-sliced toast with bacon or avocado, and a side of greens. I love the balance of the richly decadent breakfast entree, with a healthier side of brightly dressed greens versus fried hash browns or home fries.
One of the unfortunate changes to the menu is that the Chilaquiles are no longer offered (WTF – this is on the list, what were they thinking?)! A mound of tortilla chips tossed in a delicious spicy red sauce, that coats the chips but doesn’t soak through so they are still miraculously crunchy. A scoop of black beans and a sunny side up egg sits on top garnished with fresh avocado, pickled onions and a generous sprinkle of queso fresco.
Another seasonal treat is the Local dungeness crab toast ($14) with avocado slices topped with fresh spring greens tossed in a lively dressing made with addictively spicy ghost pepper.
The Avocado Toast ($12), is a thick slice of Firebrand seeded spelt toast topped with avocado and two poached eggs sprinkled with fresh herbs, aleppo peppers and served with a side of greens. I felt this was bland compared to the other dishes we’ve enjoyed here.
Sometimes you get a little cup of pickles to wake up your taste buds.
After the restaurant and menu expansion, we had to order the Smoked Fish Tower $24 (Add’tl bagel chips are 5/$2). It was literally a tower of three plates filled with delectables, the top was a scoop of rich creamy trout dip garnished with beautiful fresh roe, that was so good spread on the thin, addictively crunchy bagel chips. The next plate was piled with rich smoked black cod with fresh cucumber slices and lemon wedges. On the bottom were thin slices of salmon gravlax and cream cheese sprinkled with capers, chives and pickled onions. We ended up asking for more bagel chips…
We had to try a sandwich, and we both had our eyes on the Oyakwo sandwich ($11), a Japanese word for Mother and Child, specifically referring to dishes that have both chicken and egg in them. The sandwich was basically toast, as it is served open-faced on toasted sliced rye. It was piled with rich creamy egg salad, topped with thin shards of crispy chicken skin, drizzled with a tart mustard sauce and baby arugula. I loved it, although I’m not sure this alone could fill me up and I would have liked more skin…
I’m so glad they expanded both in terms of space and the menu, because the line to get in seems much shorter and there’s more to explore. We have barely ventured beyond the breakfast menu, which is too bad because the sandwiches sound awesome and I really want to check out the dinner menu and cocktails. If only this were still our neighborhood, sigh…