KL's Annual Oyster Bliss, 4/19/09
KL's annual oyster bliss is scheduled for this Saturday from 11am to 4pm. I went last year with a group of friends and had a blast. Definitely not cheap, but the food and drinks (i.e., Monterey Fish's oysters, Eccolo's sausages, Acme bread, desserts from Cafe Fanny and KL's wines by the glass) was really good!!!
A tip for those planning to attend, get there early (like around 10am) if you want a seat at a table, avoid the huge lines, and most importantly, find a parking spot. While you're waiting for them to begin selling the oyseters, you can purchase some pain epi to go with your oysters.
FYI, it's cash only.
I stopped going to this event a few years ago - fighting huge crowds of people vying for limited resources is not my idea of an enjoyable day.
My experiences were very much like SteveG's - parking is a nightmare, there's not enough seating, the lines are long and the space is too small for the crowd. On the positive side, unlike the people that tend populate events in SF, the other patrons at the Oyster Bliss event tend to be mellow, well-behaved adults.
But I'd just as soon gather all those food items and retreat to a park or my deck.
Reading your comments last week, I did give some thought to what makes this event worth it to me. Now that oysters are so readily available, it's not just the food. I’m glad you mentioned the people, as it has the mellow Berkeley vibe even during peak times when it’s insanely crowded. It’s my place to run into friends and wine acquaintances in the East Bay who I might only see this one time a year in the parking lot. A few words with Kermit, the small talk with Steve Edmunds, catching up with Jeff Cohn, and others who make this an annual thing as well.
This year I didn’t put any effort into rounding up a group, and decided to go by myself anyway. I arrived the latest ever, 11:20am, and there was no trouble parking. More than half the seating was still open, and I put my jacket over a seat by the sidewalk. Soon I bumped into my aunt and uncle from San Francisco, then a friend from Santa Rosa, and two ‘hounds from the City. The lines were shorter this year, so I wasn’t up much and I didn’t take the time to walk through the tent to see who else I might find, so I’m sorry if I missed anyone else. The weather was the best it’s been in a long time, and my theory is that the crowd is bigger on cold, damp days and smaller when the weather’s good and they’re drawn elsewhere.
Buying bottles and various glasses of wine to share, I did have a chance to try everything on the day’s list except the Champagne. KL’s Steve Ledbetter had recommended the electric Vezelay (white burgundy) as his top pick, and I’d agree with him that it was the best oyster wine. The Muscadet was quite rich and plump this year, better as a sipper than usual. The Chablis was unusually fleshy, and too rotund to go with the raw bivalves. I enjoyed the Reuilly very much, yet found it a tad too aggressive to match with the oysters.
We made friends with our tablemates and had a chance to try the 2004 Vieux Telegraphe CdP they brought. Efforts to exclude outside bottles from being consumed in the parking lot have been abandoned and there’s now a $15 corkage charge, which I think is a good way to deal with the situation.
I stood in the line for oysters ($10 for six) and sausage ($10 for sausage, baguette and greens). The back-up on the grill was causing the delays. Then when we needed more oysters, my friend told my 82 y. o. uncle that he didn’t need to wait in line and could just go up the counter to get just oysters. Whether this is true or not, I can’t say, but it worked for him and we had our second round with no waiting.
From Café Fanny’s dessert table, the chocolate pavé was a perennial pleaser, and the berry filled sponge cake and the strawberry-rhubarb galette with the fluffy crème fraiche were lovely too.
The wait in line for the indoor restroom afforded “vliang” the opportunity to study the mark-down bins and she picked up a bottle of 2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape for 50% off that we enjoyed at our second “lunch” at China Village. Here’s the thread,
1601 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702
1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702
re: Melanie Wong
Very nice report--thanks, Melanie. I didn't manage to get there until it was well and truly packed, so I did some shopping and came back after all the food was gone and tables had opened. I managed to chat for a while with Denis Jamain (Reuilly) and try both of his wines. The pinot was nice for quaffing, but I quite loved the white. Wish I had tried the Vezelay.
Here's the chowdown report and photos from last year (2008),
10am is too early, the tent and tables aren't even set up yet. But I do make a point to be there by 11am when the event starts to stake out a table, mostly to get a good parking space nearby and to scope out the dessert table. It's fun to start of the day with a cafe au lait from Fanny before the oyster action is in full swing.
Also, you can write a check for the oyster/sausage purchase. Other food and wine stations are cash only.
re: Robert Lauriston
The food was good, but I wasn't a super fan of some of the logistics. By the time you buy a dozen oysters and a decent bottle of white to go with a nice sausage sandwich, it easily runs to $60 or more and we felt obligated to eat quickly so someone else could have our seats. At that point, I'd rather go somewhere with real wine glasses so I can taste what I'm drinking...but if I find myself over there, I'd probably grab a grilled sausage something-or-other to go and eat in a park.