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Jun 7, 2009 10:38 PM

Hercules: The Powder Keg Pub and Seafood Cafe - wow, $4 bloody Mary bar, crab Benedict, $1 oyster Monday, Joe's special ... a nice place

Thanks to Robert Lauriston for mentioning this place in a $1 oyster thread.

I haven't tried the oysters, but I had a lovely brunch here today.


Server brings a glass with ice cubes and vodka. Go to the table with the fixings. There is a choice of tomato juice, Clamato or Mr. T's Bloody Mary Mix.

Add in choice of: horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, red or green Tabasco sauce, Tapatio sauce, Louisiana Gem green jalapeno sauce, Trappy's red devil sauce, Frankie's red hot sauce, salt pepper

Finish with celery stick, pickled onion, green olive, black olive, pepperonici, pickled jalepeno, baby corn, lemons, limes. There was a cut in the center of the citrus slices so they could be put on the rim of the glass.


Excellent ... excellent ... poached eggs, actually better than the poached eggs I had at Cafe Fanny last week that were on the verge of overcooked with some of the yolk turning solid.

At Powder Keg the yolks were plump, oozy, yolky goodness with the thinnest cover of white on top and the rest of the white tender, yet totally cooked. At Cafe Fanny, there were raw spots in the white.

Very nice Hollondaise sauce. On top of the English muffin and under the eggs were thin crab cakes. There was nice crab flavor and probably some breadcrumb filler. It was hard to tell because they were thin, but it made the Benedict perfectly balanced. It was just the right amount of crab.

The hash browns were nicely browned but kind of bland. It was a really large serving. There were two tasty slices of oranges.

They are good about refilling the coffee. I believe it was Aurora ... something like was decent coffee. Tea is stash.

I wasn't expecting much with the name. I figured it was some old bar that had been open forever and I just never heard about ... but no ... they only opened last August. It is at the end of Sycamore where all the new houses are. If traveling up San Pablo toward Napa, on Sycamore take a left (away from the direction of Lucky ... if you see Lucky you are going the wrong way.

Decor-wise it reminded me of 21st Ammendment in SF ... if that restaurant looked better ... and if it had two lovely outdoor patios bordered with bright pink bouganvailas and pots of hanging white and pink petunias.

It is a very comfortable place to hang out. There is a long bar with some comfy bar stools and two large screen tvs.

Service is just swell. They are friendly and on top of things without being intrusive.

There are lunch specials, one of which is $5.50 for half sandwich with a choice of soup, salad or fries. There are also nightly specials ... Tuesday is ribeye and baked potato ... Wednesday is homemade pasta

I wish I took notes. I thought the cocktail list would be online. They have a nice cocktail list.

There's sangria (Barcelona-stye) $4. It had wine, rum, gin, vodka, juice, oranges and limes.

Six beers are on tap. Happy Hour is extended to 7pm

The Granny Smith martini has fresh squeezed Granny Smith apple juice. They also have "Forgotten Favorites" such as a Cuban Libre. There are a few non alcoholic beers and drinks such as a virgin Sunrise - OJ, soda and grenadine.

Very child friendly. They know their neighborhood without condescending to it. Portions are generous, prices are good, food is classic ... like a Joe's special ... which looked very good on another table.

The only thing that would be better is if they were located where the real estate company is on the other end of the street. Then there would be a bay view also. Located on a very residential street. There are some photos on the site that give an idea of the place, but the patio looks nicer than that.

Seriously ... I can't think of a better place in that area for Sunday brunch until you hit Albany/Berkeley.

The Powder Keg Pub and Seafood Cafe
2132 Railroad Ave, Hercules, CA 94547

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  1. The $1 oysters were just swell. Not sure the type, but they are nicely briny. They come with a lemon slice and a classic red cocktail sauce.

    Also great are the oyster shooters $3.75. Watching the bartender make them with care made me get one. To a shotglass with the Bloody Mary mix house-made from scratch. he put a touch of horseradish, a shake of Worcheshire sauce, a squeeze of fresh lemon, a few shakes of black pepper, a fresh oyster with oyster liquid and topped it with Kettle One vodka. I enjoyed this a lot.

    The sangria was one of the best I've had in a long time. Lots of slices of apples and oranges. It is very pleasant and well worth the $4.

    Also had a cup of respectable clam chowder $3.50. There were not a lot of chopped clams but it was pleasant with a broth that wasn't too thick, maybe thickened slightly with a little potato and cream. There was a nice sprinkling of crumbled bacon that really made the chowder. There were also a few bits of celery and potato. It came with a bag of Burry Long Island-style oyster crackers which were nice. They are a little smaller and thinner than most oyster crackers. I enjoyed it.

    The only disappointment was the Irish coffee $4.50. Watching it being made I would have guessed it would be a winner. The glass was properly warmed with hot water. There was a nice shot of Tullamre Dew and an excellent float of cream on top. However, the coffee didn't come through.

    It was lively in there without being too noisy. The crowd was nicely mixed from 20 somethings texting each other on their phones, to couples with kids in strollers to older couples. The food coming out of the kitchen looked good.

    A few drinks on the list I remember
    - Cool collins made with organic Square One cucumber vodka.$8
    - Bloody brew - Newcastle beer, vodka, tomato juice and tobasco $5.50
    - Mimosa $3.50
    - Mango or pineapple mimosas $3.75

    During happy hour well drinks and beer are $3

    There was a standard selection of hard liquor with at least one less than usual item in most categories such as
    - Blue Coate American organic gin
    - Yamazaki 12 yr single malt

    There are about a dozen wines and while they weren't anything spectacular, they weren't embarrasing either ... Cline white truck and red truck wines, J Lohr, Rancho Zabaco, Trentadeil (sp) zin and such.

    1. Was just having a conversation with another Hound about this place over email. I don't tend to post about places until I've been atleast twice, but since it's come up and I haven't finished writing my update for the Pinole thread, here's a snippet from the email. Hopefully he'll pipe in, too.

      ...My first impression of it was that it was a fairly nice local spot, good for a casual meal with an emphasis on their beer offerings as their food is pub-ish (soups, salads, sandwiches). I've tried the oysters, baby shrimp louis, and the BLT. I got there just before their happy hour oyster special was about to end, I think 7:30ish on a weekday, and the oysters were fresh, came with some mignonette [maybe I remembered this wrong] and a bit of cocktail sauce. Don't remember exactly where from, but PEI comes to mind. The baby shrimp louis was quite good - the shrimp was firm and sweet, the lettuce was crisp and cold, and whoever was in the kitchen actually had some decent knife skills as the presentation was quite pretty although the bowl they put it all in was a bit too small for the portion. Their portions are actually quite generous. The BLT I got came with fries which I could upgrade to garlic fries for an extra dollar, which I did, and there were a lot of them. Unfortunately, they were of the frozen variety and not as hot as I would have liked when they got to me. The BLT was nothing fancy -- thicker cut bacon on toasted bread, mayonaise, romaine, some avocado, winter tomatoes... I was pretty full after the salad so ate half and half heartedly picked the bacon out of the other.

      Definitely like a little slice of Berkeley in Hercules.

      1 Reply
      1. re: adrienne156

        Went to Powder Keg again a few Fridays ago.

        Salads are good, oysters are just ok based on this visit (ours were shucked badly and some had bits of shell... I will try and eat most anything, but any kind of grit in my food gives me the absolute heeby jeebies), be aware of their fried stuff. The french fries were still good and abundant, but this time we got the non-garlic and they did not appear to be from frozen. The fried artichokes and calamari on the other hand hadn't been drained properly and after sitting at the window for a couple of minutes cooling, were total grease bombs by the time they got to us. Kind of sad because the batter on the calamari seemed like it could have been good (light). None of the fried items were salted. If you order the crab melt, ask for your toast dry or light on the butter. SO stole my tomatoes and put them in his sandwich to cut the richness, I probably would have taken the slaw that comes with the sandwich and put that in instead.

        Now, even though there seem to be a lot of negatives, I'm still going to go there because it is the best non-chain thing where I can get good beer on tap and decent food (of this genre) in the immediate vicinity.

      2. I agree that this is a nice new brunch find- went about a month ago and had the smoked salmon benedict- it was good, but I wasn't expecting the heavy layer of cream cheese inside. It would have been fine without, or at least, much less cream cheese. My Ramos fizz was perfect- loved that. We also shared a plate of the marmalade-stuffed french toast- this was a great treat! It was quiet when we went, service was friendly. Good neighborhood spot. I'd definitely go again for breakfast and am planning to check it out with friends one of these weekends for dinner & drinks.