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Feedback on Somerset in Oakland?

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doxxie lover Apr 11, 2007 06:49 AM

Has anyone tried Somerset on College Avenue in Oakland? We've tried it twice (Dinner and Brunch) and are still waiting for a reason to go back.

Definitely lacking in the Service area. The staff is really sub par. English is their 2nd language and there can be communication problems. Not a very warm,friendly Manager either.

The food was mediocre. I had a decent Caesar and Fried Chicken, that was below decent. My Partner had a very nice mixed green salad and VERY small piece of salmon.

Brunch was much better in terms of food. Service still very lacking...

Would welcome other feedback.....

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    oaktowngirl RE: doxxie lover Apr 11, 2007 07:58 AM

    I have been several times, for brunch and dinner. Brunch is the safer choice. It is on the expensive side. Food is fine, not great. Dinner has unwelcome surprises. Chicken pot pie is spicy. Goat cheese souffle is good. Everything is slightly off kilter. Salmon is small piece, with spicy rice. Never is spice mentioned on the menu. It is presented as upscale California cuisine, but I have to ask everytime I order whether something is normal or spicy. The staff don't communicate well at all. I am under the impression that they came from San Francisco with the owners, which makes the problem more mysterious. I have to ask two or three times for something, they cannot answer questions about the menu (and there are always questions about the menu), they have to go get the manager. During the spinach scare, they had at least 6 dishes on the menu that included spinach. They waited until you were ready to order, then told you that you could not have anything with spinach in it. Fine, but tell me the menu limitations before you take my order. They would not make anything that had spinach as an ingredient. Understandable for items such as a spinach salad. Unnacceptable for an egg scramble with 5 other ingredients. Just don't put the spinach in it. They could not process this. So the menu only had 5 real choices for weeks.

    1. singleguychef RE: doxxie lover Apr 11, 2007 09:53 AM

      Here's the original thread that discuss the new Sommerset: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32838...

      I consider Sommerset a good go-to place in Rockridge when I want something nice but don't want to deal with the scene, for example, at Wood Tavern. Sommerset's menu is very eclectic so you have to know what to order. It is hit and miss. I do like their brunch with anything having lemon ricotta. Also, the fish for dinner always seem to be done well.

      I think the room is cozy, the patio is nice on the sunny day, and I haven't had any problem with the service each time I've been there. Even though some don't speak English that well, they all were friendly to me and helpful. I never had any problem with waiting for a long time or not getting things that I requested.

      1. Morton the Mousse RE: doxxie lover Apr 11, 2007 09:58 AM

        I had a really lousy dinner there and won't return.

        Not sure how they qualify as Cal cuisine given zero menu transparency. The waiter couldn't tell us where any of the meat came from, no indication of organic produce. Besides all that, the execution ranged from mediocre to downright awful. We couldn't finish any of the dishes because they just didn't taste good (burnt fried chicken; heavy, imbalanced pot pie). I was a lot more impressed with the food at Wood Tavern.

        1. JasmineG RE: doxxie lover Apr 11, 2007 11:28 AM

          I've only had brunch there, and I agree that the food was too expensive for what it was. It all tasted good, but not as good as the prices. I also really agree that the service is poor, friendly, but poor -- the communication problems are really frustrating, and I expected that to go away after a while, but it hasn't really. It's disappointing to me, because I was really looking forward to the opening of this place, since it's right in my neighborhood and I heard raves from friends of mine about Miss Millies.

          1. The Dive RE: doxxie lover Apr 11, 2007 12:24 PM

            I've been okay with the service and menu options, but my number one complaint is the lack of ingredient source information. Is anything organic? Is the fish wild? The fried chicken was ok -- kind of bland and the gravy needs to be served on the side. They overcook the duck (and don't ask how you want it). However, I love the lemon ricotta pancakes at brunch and the coconut cake is quiet good. I'm probably just going to stick to those if we go.

            1. heidipie RE: doxxie lover Apr 12, 2007 12:55 PM

              Lousy! Food and service! And we'd enjoyed it when it was Miss Millie's in the city, at least for brunch.

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                akira RE: doxxie lover Jul 9, 2007 10:51 PM

                Been there for lunch. good crab sandwich.
                However upon return for dinner: horrible. chicken pot pie was actually greasy chicken soup.
                Wait staff had no idea what I was complaining about - not sure if they understood English.
                Upon review of our credit card statement, they had added several dollars to their tip!!
                Will never go back! Anyone who wants to try it: CHECK YOUR CREDIT CARD STATEMENT!!!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: akira
                  d
                  dreamsicle RE: akira Jul 10, 2007 07:48 PM

                  I had brunch there a few weeks ago. We sat at the patio and it was pretty decent, and seemed quieter than the inside. We ordered two starters, the pumpkin custard with pumpkin bread and the Meyer lemon ricotta crepes, and a sweet orange waffle with nectarines and strawberries.

                  I was expecting a light, eggy custard, but the pumpkin custard was very rich and somewhat heavy and the pumpkin flavor was mild. The pumpkin bread was okay, a bit on the greasy side. The lemon ricotta crepes (there were two) were large for a starter and were filled with lots of cheese, so much that I couldn't finish all of it. I liked the lemony notes in the ricotta filling, but the ricotta was slightly grainy. Overall, it was another heavy starter.

                  The best part of the meal was probably the sweet orange waffle. It wasn't crispy at all, but was soft and fluffy and had a strong orange hint to it, although slightly on the sweet side. The creme fraiche and vanilla pastry cream on the waffle were light, and the fruits were just perfect, sweet and succulent.

                  I must admit that service wasn't the best; most of the staff couldn't speak English too well and service was a bit slow, but the staff were friendly all the same. I had high hopes of the brunch at Somerset but left disappointed. Considering the price, food and service, I doubt if I'll come back for more. Their menu is pretty extensive though.

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                  tutti_a_tavola RE: doxxie lover Aug 22, 2007 09:13 PM

                  There have been numerous changes of ownership and cuisine at this location, and so when Somerset opened we were intrigued and checked it out on a Saturday night. The food, as described by others, falls into the comfort food category, and includes items from multiple cuisines, perhaps too many. The restaurant has a casual elegance, and I liked the atmosphere. The service was not overwhelming, but adequate. The biggest service negative was a maitre d’ who insisted on sitting five people at tables designed for four when there was plenty of space elsewhere. Not very smart. We ordered a calamari appetizer because there is a very short time window in which deep-fried calamari is cooked and tender, and then it begins its transition to golf-ball texture. It is always a good test of a kitchen. It was a bit beyond optimum with two dipping sauces that were unspectacular. For entrees we had a paella which came with rice that was overcooked, and lacked the crust that a good paella develops. We wondered how much precooking it had seen. The duck confit was tender but the skin was flaccid and not worth eating. What a waste. The desserts were attractively presented but lacked depth and complexity. When I compare Somerset to Citron, I much prefer the latter. The prices are comparable, and the food at Citron is in my view better, making it a better dining value.

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