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Luca's Taproom - Oakland - Thumbs Down

w
Waterboy Jan 6, 2007 06:09 AM

We were looking for a comfortable, clean, lux experience when we visited Luca's Taproom. None in evidence in this funky, somwhat grimy joint. Booth seat had a flat board, no cushion.

Burgers so-so, as were Belgian fries, but aioli was a nice touch. Fries crispy throughout + somwhat dry, when they should've been creamy on the inside.

We ordered a $24 ribeye, which looked good until we discovered it to be approx. 5 millimeters thick. Not kidding - rather bizarre.

Side of Speatzle not bad, but we preferred Suppenküche's, being meatier. Luca's is fried with, possibly, bacon, so has a yummy taste, but lacks the substance of Suppenküche Speatzle - here it's a matter of personal preference.

The most local beer was Racer 5 from Healdsburg, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Chico.

We won't be back - good service but totally unimpressive.

  1. susancinsf Jan 6, 2007 02:57 PM

    If your standards are that Luka's is a bit 'grimy' then you just aren't on the same wavelength as me...and would probably do best to stay out of any restaurant in downtown Oakland, because I can't think of any that I'd be less likely to describe by that word....(including the supposedly top JLS places). It is a tap room however, not the sort of place I would go to if looking for what I would call a 'lux' atmosphere.

    There are bigger fans of the Luka's fries than me, but I love their burgers; in part because it is one of the few places where, if you ask for it rare, you really will get it rare. And of course, the $1 oysters on Monday nights can't be beat.

    The beer selection is a big plus, but I always look to the Belgian side of the menu there, not local.

    5 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf
      w
      Waterboy Jan 6, 2007 04:32 PM

      If your standards are that Luka's is a bit 'grimy' then you just aren't on the same wavelength as me...and would probably do best to stay out of any restaurant in downtown Oakland, because I can't think of any that I'd be less likely to describe by that word....
      --------------------------

      Here's an observation that's also my experience - remarkably true for the area. For a startling contrast, motor West to O'Reilly's Holy Grail.

      And for excellent Belgian, head to Santa Rosa for Vinny's freshly brewed selection of outstanding beer - Russian River Brewing Company. Worth the trip for serious beer hunters, you may have difficulty with other Belgian after that....go elsewhere for good eats, however.

      1. re: Waterboy
        susancinsf Jan 6, 2007 04:51 PM

        I've only been to O'Reilly's once, but you are right, the oysters were a contrast with Luka's (but not in a good way).

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. re: susancinsf
          w
          Waterboy Jan 6, 2007 07:34 PM

          Poor quality oysters at O'Reilly's? It happens....seafood's especially sensitive stuff.

          I recently had exquisite oysters at O'Reilly's, but the crab chowder should've been used to clean a drain. OTOH, crab chowder's the only bad thing I've had there. My chow mates say O'Reilly's has one or two others I've not tried; they didn't like. But on the whole, excellent chow; not infallible.

        2. re: Waterboy
          bbulkow Jan 6, 2007 06:08 PM

          Russian River beers can often be found at San Pablo Lanesplitter, a closer drive for an excellent beer.

          My girlfriend now judges all beers by their Damnation Ale, which I enjoy as well.

          1. re: bbulkow
            w
            Waterboy Jan 6, 2007 07:39 PM

            My girlfriend now judges all beers by their Damnation Ale, which I enjoy as well.
            ----------------

            She's not alone....the brewmaster/owner's looked up to by his brethern - this guy brews like nobody else.

            Dee-lighted to hear about the Lanesplitter! There is, recently, a tiny availability of fresh beer in restaurants - I say ask for same, frequently, and a movement may be born.

            There was a time when fresh beer was all there was, a pleasure lost when long shelf life came into fashion.

      2. e
        evilcorgis Jan 6, 2007 05:19 PM

        Luka's is a great place to have a meal. Its not 5th floor by any means, but its got got old Oakland charm. They don't make any qualms about being snooty, however they do offer what I would call great food during a busy week. Its a local joint for me, which is why I love going there.

        I love their burgers and I actually do like the fries. I love their salads, their appetizers, and their desserts. During the summer, you should try the strawberry shortcake with aged balsamic vinegar and black pepper. If you go there now, they have an orange creme brulee that is to die for.

        In all, I think they are a nice place to hang out in to try the products from local growers.

        1 Reply
        1. re: evilcorgis
          e
          evilcorgis Feb 15, 2011 06:31 PM

          Lukas does have off days where a substandard chef seems to take over the grill. Most days though the food is great (and if the BIG guy is behind the grill, burgers are best in bay)

          Still a favorite place.

        2. o
          Oakland Barb Jan 6, 2007 06:00 PM

          Wow!
          I thought of posting...
          We have eaten many times at Luka's, though not in a while. We had a bite there last night and it was all not good! I've loved their fries, but they weren't the usual crispy last night. The Dungeness crab fritters were not cooked through and there was absolutely no sign of crab. The soup (asparagus) was almost passable but the mac and cheese was just inedible. It was gummy and lumpy. Ick!
          We hoped things might be redeemed with dessert but the molten chocolate cake needed at least 5 more minutes in the oven. To top it off, they've stopped serving Hendriks Gin. Even the plates our food was served on were unclean to the touch.
          We sat at the bar and the service was great.

          1. mmerino Jan 6, 2007 07:12 PM

            Luka's is lame. The beer and 1$ oysters unfortunately don't make up for it. I'm not sure what the fuss is about. I'm assuming the fuss is b/c that area(actually lots of oakland!) is of crying out for a Luka style place.

            I have had the burger(which was yucky dry)fries and mac n cheese. And some salady thing. All were just bland and boring. I think its a joke to call those Belgian Fries. I was just in Belgium and these aren't even close. Luka also commited one of the most detested food crimes, serving brown, slime-rimmed lettuces! GAG. I hate that. Gross, slimy lettuce you have to pick around. Worse thing about this crime is that it does you no good to send the dish back-You know all the lettuce is in the same slop bucket in the back!

            It's too bad there isn't a better "Luka style" resto in this area.
            Does anyone know of anyhing new around there?

            1 Reply
            1. re: mmerino
              w
              Waterboy Jan 6, 2007 08:02 PM

              It's too bad there isn't a better "Luka style" resto in this area.
              Does anyone know of anyhing new around there?
              ---------------

              Aren't there a few new Chez Panisse alumni restaurants not far away, no farther than Berkeley? Been meaning to go, but hey.

              A good restaurant in Luca's area would be like taking off a tight shoe....

              Did some calculating - at $24, Luca's 5 mm thick ribeye expanded to 1/2" would be $50. Grossly expensive for Luca's quality, don't you think? Extrapin' to 3/4" made my wallet snap shut.

            2. h
              hungrydyke Jan 6, 2007 09:01 PM

              Based on location Luca's could be my local but it's not friendly enough. The first couple of times I tried it out the bitter queen at the door just stared at me while ignoring me instead of seating me. Haven't seen him lately, maybe I'm not the only one who complained.

              The one time I tried the much fawned on burger, it was dry and gross, I only finished it because I was really hungry. The fries do rock in my opinion but if that's all I want I'll go to the Smokehouse. The crab fritters are a total joke, fried hard and filled with I'm not sure what. The actual service is good but in general the attitude sucks.

              I'd be a Monday regular for the oysters but going to a place that makes me more uptight misses the point of happy hour.

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