Occupation: Systems Engineer
Favorite Restaurant: Grand Oaks Restaurant and Sports Lounge
Reviewed Grand Oaks Restaurant and Sports Lounge: Friday, May 20, 2011
We headed to Grand Oaks on a Friday night right after work, planning on watching Game 3 of the Sharks game and Game 1 of 3 of the Giants vs. the A’s games. Three of my friends went ahead of us, while I picked up another. We arrived at around 7:00 PM and my friends had already found seats. We were seated at the “community” table, which is a long table in the center of the sports lounge; there are more seats in the back, which is for a more formal dining experience. We were seated with no problems, and my friends were already chowing down on the taquitos and fries. They also had their drinks, but one of them decided not to like Stella and handed the rest to me. I saw the owner quietly sitting at the bar, texting away, so I used the opportunity to order some drinks directly from the bar and to have a chance to talk to him. I ordered a Ketel One Dirty Martini and two Blue Moons. While the bartender was preparing our drinks, I spoke to the owner, Roger. I joked around with him, reminding him the boxes of bullets I saw at the back of the bar awhile back and how I was jokingly trying to buy a box. This time there were no bullets at the back, but there were handcuffs and several pistol magazines. He said he always carries a sidearm with him because of his job. I asked Roger if he is a cop, because I saw OPD and NYPD patches on the wall. He said he’s not and that the patches are from his friends. He was a P.I. and now is working as a parole officer, along with running the two Grand Oaks; the other is located in Old Oakland (736 Washington St). Roger also told me that he’s a partner with his brother Kenny, who does the cooking and who I met during the Giants World Series run. Roger was really friendly, and we could have talked some more, but my drinks came and I went back to sit with my friends.
I started picking on the taquitos, because that is my favorite appetizer at Grand Oaks. It comes with ranch and salsa and some sort of vegetables on the side in an attempt to garnish them. The taquitos are quite good. I’m not sure if they’re made in house or are frozen, but the frozen ones I buy don’t taste like this. The fries were also very good. A friend mentioned that she liked the cut, because the size is between steak fries and McDonald’s fries. They were cooked well also. They were nice and golden brown and they were crispy on the outside and airy in the inside, just how good fries should be.
I noticed that the place only had one waitress that night and a lady bartender, who I’d never seen before. They usually have around three people waiting on customers, and even then the service can get pretty slow. Our waitress, or the only waitress, came to our table and took additional appetizer orders. We ordered the escargot and, later, the buffalo wings. The escargot came first, and the waitress also took the rest of our orders. There were six snails smothered in lemon butter and covered with garlic. They came with a small fork, a clamp, and toothpicks. A friend mentioned that it reminded them of the scene in Pretty Woman, where Julia Roberts accidentally flings a snail to a waiter. My adventurous friends tried the escargot, and they said that it was easy to pull it out of the shell. They also said that it tasted really good. The escargot did not come with bread, so I asked for some bread. I didn’t want to touch my snails, until the bread came. I like to sponge up the butter and garlic with the bread.
Our first main dish arrived, which was a 12″ pizza. My friend asked if we could do a half and half, because one of us is a vegetarian. They allowed us to do a half sausage and mushrooms and the other half cheese. It was a thin-crust pizza, and the crust was nice and crunchy. Our bread hasn’t arrived yet, so I used the crust to eat the rest of the escargot. I sponged up the butter and garlic with the crust, and it worked out well.
The rest of our meals came. We ordered shrimp ravioli with prawns, filet of sole meunière, chicken marsala, and I ordered the Grenadine of Pork Loin. The portions were huge. The pork was well cooked; it was very moist and flavorful. I enjoyed it a lot, like the other meals I’ve had at Grand Oaks in the past. My friends were enjoying their own meals as well. We did give each other pieces to taste. The sole was excellent. It was seasoned and cooked very well. The chicken marsala was also very moist. The ravioli was very creamy and also excellent. Then the bread came, but the escargot was cleaned out already. We ate the bread along with our meal.
While we were eating, the games were going on. There were no bad seats in the house because there are wall-to-wall flat screen televisions. Some were on the Sharks game, some were on the Giants’ game, and one was on wrestling. A few weeks ago, one customer requested to have a few on American Idol, and they did put it on. We were yelling, hollering and the only two A’s fans — my friend and some other guy — were giving each other high-fives. The others were Giants fans. The Sharks were nerve wracking to watch, because it was 2 – 3 in the third and they were up. Vancouver was frantic in trying to tie the game. The Sharks ended up winning and so did the Giants, which silenced our only two A’s fan.
As the games ended, my friends were getting antsy that the waitress kind of stopped showing up. I went to the restroom and saw that the back dining area was also full, and the same waitress was also helping them. I knew that this was going to be a problem from the get-go. It took a while, but the waitress came to our table, and we asked for dessert. She told us what they had and me and another friend quickly decided on the mud pie, while the others skipped dessert. When the mud pie arrived, my friend and I ooh’d and ahh’d at it of course. We split the mud pie and thought it was very good. It was a good way to end a meal. It was nice and chocolaty with a nice chocolate graham cracker crust. We ended up finishing it.
We split the bill five ways, which was $28 per person. It included a 15% tip. We left, and I waved goodbye to the bartender and Roger. My friends noted that the food was good and the place was great. I keep coming back because the food is good and there are no bad seats in the house when watching sports. It is a very fun place to be in.
Occupation: Elections Technician Supervisor
Favorite Restaurant: The Elite Cafe
Reviewed Grand Oaks Restaurant and Sports Lounge: Friday, May 20, 2011
Grand Oaks Restaurant and Sports Lounge is located on Grand Avenue in Oakland. Grand Avenue is not necessarily known for having ample parking. so much to my surprise, we found a parking spot directly across the street from the restaurant. Score! The outside of the restaurant is definitely dated. I may have noticed a few letters missing from some of the signage. But that did not deter me or my hungry friends. Walking through the front door, there is a full-on sports bar with bar stools, flat screen televisions — the whole nine.
Seeing this sports bar environment, my first thought was, I am seriously overdressed. My second thought was where was my party of twelve going to sit? Fortunately, a man who I will assume is the owner approached me and my boyfriend after a few minutes of us standing there looking puzzled. This friendly gentleman directed us to their “back room.” The décor of the back room was completely different from the sports lounge out front. This room had white linen tablecloths, and a sliding glass door that opened to a patio. It was a very comfortable setting. This second room was very accommodating and spacious.
Their menu offered a variety of items, formal and informal, such as, chicken piccata, linguini petto de pollo, garlic fries, and beef taquitos. I enjoyed having a wide variety of foods to select from. They also offer a full bar. If you are a fan of garlic, as I am, this is the place for you. Most of their entrees have a healthy portion of garlic. We ordered garlic fries and their fried chicken wings for an appetizer. The garlic fries were my favorite appetizer by far. The fries had a nice crispy outside with a soft warm center. They were also coated with freshly grated garlic and parmesan cheese. Fresh baked bread was brought to our table before the entrees were served. I am a sucker for warm bread. It was delicious. For my main course, I had the shrimp ravioli with prawns. The ravioli tasted as though they were made from scratch and the prawns were huge. The consistency of the ravioli was extraordinary, and the garlic cream sauce with the ravioli was savory. It was the perfect combination of garlic and butter. I enjoyed every bite.
Everyone else seemed to enjoy their food as well. Other items tried by my table were: pepperoni and sausage pizza, filet of sole, chicken noodle soup, pasta with meat sauce, and chicken piccata. The portions were large. I consider myself a big eater and I could not finish my shrimp ravioli.
After dinner, everyone present said they would come back to Grand Oaks because of the food. The prices were exceptional for the portion and quality of the food.
There were just a few sour notes for Grand Oaks. Our server was absent most of the night, drinks were really slow to come out (it took twenty minutes to get my first drink), and when a member of my party changed flavors of her soda, she was charged twice because it was a different flavor.
To summarize my experience at Grand Oaks: I would go back in the future. The restaurant has its flaws, mainly with their service, but overall, it was a great experience. When I go out to eat, I want to go and experience excellent food in a comfortable clean environment. This restaurant lounge provided me with that. I would recommend going there on a casual night with a group of friends to get some good food. I will more than likely visit Grand Oaks Restaurant and Sports Lounge in the future.
Occupation: Real Estate Appraiser
Location: Rohnert Park
Favorite Restaurant: Risibisi Italian Restaurant
Reviewed Grand Oaks Restaurant and Sports Lounge: Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The Grand Oaks restaurant is located on Grand Avenue in Oakland near the historic Grand Theater. Grand Oaks is situated in a somewhat rough looking, two-story building with the main floor reserved for the sports bar, and a smaller, rear, dining-only area. The second floor appears to be a residence. I went to Grand Oaks on a Tuesday night and, as expected, the rear dining area was empty. The sports bar was full and is definitely the main draw here.
My friend Joe and I each ordered a pint of cold beer on tap (Stella Artois), served by a real beauty with a friendly smile, and we quickly settled in with the very friendly locals who were watching both a San Jose Sharks playoff game, as well as a NBA playoff game on multiple TVs. We soon found ourselves cheering for both games and having a great time. We then ordered some buffalo wings, which were prepared in a juicy style, which I don’t prefer. We also both ordered steaks. The steaks came with salads, which came out first, and we began to enjoy the meal in our comfortable bar chairs. The salads were crisp, clean, and fresh. The Italian dressing was a bit ordinary and tasted familiar. I ordered the large rib rye and Joe ordered the New York. To our delight, both steaks were cooked to perfection. I’m very picky about my steaks, and these steaks were spot on. They were not burnt, but rather a perfectly grilled dark brown with a juicy, pink interior. Umm, Ummm. The steaks came with a side of mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. The mashed potatoes were lumpy and tasted like my mom’s. They were not overdone with butter and such, but a bit more on the natural side and served without gravy, which I really enjoyed. The vegetables were extremely fresh and not over-cooked and very tasty. The food was a total success, and we both ate every last bite.
We continued to watch the game and started to feel like regulars and we could easily see why this is a favorite for locals. The food was great, the service was great, and the place is a fun, friendly, sports bar. I could also see this being a great place to watch the Giants. Would I drive from out of the area to go there? To be frank, no, it’s a sports bar. But if I were within five miles or in the area then: yes. It’s a little rough looking on the outside, but don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s fun, has great food, and a nice crowd. The total food bill with tax and tip (without drinks), came to about $60, which we both felt was a good value. They also have an early bird menu (until 7:30 pm) that costs about 20% less.