GRAND AVENUE, WEST OF 580 – July 2016
Grand Lake Kitchen Doubles its Seating Area & Adds a Full Bar
On June 1, the neighborhood was excited when Grand Lake Kitchen quietly reopened after completing an expansion project that doubled its seating area and added a full bar with two televisions quietly showing sports. May Seto Wasem, co-owner with her husband David Wasem, says, “The expansion has been a ride; definitely interesting. There are lots more things we want to do, but we have to have the grace and maturity to layer [those actions] in order to maintain the high standard that we and the neighborhood expect.”
One week after the soft re-opening, GLK hosted a Re-Opening Party. One family attending the celebration traveled all the way from Davis for the occasion. It was the mom’s birthday and she wanted her daughter, GLK Sous Chef Mason, to be able to participate in her celebration. Mom said that Mason had been working nearly nonstop for 3 months testing new items for the expanded GLK menu. Mason was delighted to see her mom, dad and sister, and also proud that some of her own creations would be featured in rotations on the new menu.
Later in the month, a new awning replaced the patio umbrellas that staff used to lug out each day and frequently adjust to protect diners as they chased the sun across the sky. Reservations for seating at all times will be added later this month, but May assures that half of GLK will still remain available for walk-in customers because “first of all, we are a neighborhood restaurant.”
The seating and the breakfast menu have doubled – but the kitchen is the same size! A work table replaced two small seating tables in the original space, and the counter seating area is now a food and dish staging area. Some food preparation logistics have led to menu changes. GLK removed chilaquiles (corn tortillas cut in quarters, lightly fried, and covered with sauce) from the menu in order to use the space required to keep the sauce hot for other dishes. Passionate objections resulted, and May promises to figure out a way to bring back chilaquiles.
Rodrigo, a new team member, added especially for his expertise creating desserts and pastries, expected that the expanded seating for dinner might reduce the crowds for brunch, “but who doesn’t love brunch?” he grins. When I asked about the elusive brisket sandwich, always only available in limited quantities, Rodrigo said, “It has gone away forever – or at least for now. We are making way for some new classics that soon may be your new favorites.” I bet that his prediction will come true.
On the first day I visited, with a guest after the reopening, both the food and the service were splendid. We began with the burrata appetizer: avocado toasts topped with creamy burrata cheese and sprouts. Calabrian chili spices made the mushroom lentil cassoulet surprisingly – and pleasantly – spicy. Potato poppers stuffed with jalapeno peppers and a slightly tangy yogurt sauce rescued the king salmon from any threat of tasting bland.
I recently arrived with two guests on a Monday at noon. We were seated inside almost immediately. After sharing an appetizer of the fresh, creamy burrata cheese served with crostini and fava bean hummus, we were in the mood for a light lunch. The Smoked Fish Tower (trout dip, black cod, and salmon, including bagel chips, rye toast, cream cheese, capers, cucumbers, onions, chives and lemon) deliciously satisfied two of us. Meanwhile, my other lunch companion ordered Eggs Benedict with pastrami, served on rye toast with a side of greens. He is a connoisseur of Benedicts and declared this dish had been prepared to perfection. For dessert, one bountiful order of bread pudding was plenty to serve the three of us.
Grand Lake Kitchen offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and Happy Hour every day (except Tuesdays), brunch on weekends until 3 PM, carryout sandwiches and side dishes, meats and cheeses sold by the pound, and catering that can include delivery of large orders in Oakland, the East Bay and San Francisco. Check out the Grand Lake Kitchen website to see photos of their beautiful and mouth-watering catering trays. To see how far GLK has already come, read this blog’s archived March 2015 post.
Grand Lake Kitchen
576 Grand Ave.
Oakland, CA 94610
All day, every day (except Tuesdays) 9 AM to 10 PM
Breakfast available on Weekdays until 2 PM
Brunch available on Weekends until 3 PM
Happy Hour 4 PM to 6 PM
Dinner entrees available 5 PM – 10 PM