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Kitchen 388 (Oakland, Grand Lake area) - Four Barrel coffee and excellent homemade pop tarts

Just checked out this new place at 388 Grand Ave. in Oakland, like a five-minute walk from my front door. It's a cafe / breakfast / lunch place, serving Four Bottle coffee and a variety of sandwiches and breakfasty items.

With the qualification that I haven't tried the new Boot & Shoe coffee shop yet, I would say that the Four Barrel brew they're serving is by far the best coffee I've had in the Lake Merritt area. (The competition is pretty weak, to be sure.) Not an elaborate "third wave" setup with multiple varietals or a pour-over station - I couldn't see for sure, but I think they're brewing in a run-of-the-mill coffee machine. Still, the Guatemalan they were serving today was well-balanced and clean-tasting - neither overly acidic (to my taste), nor over-steeped or over-roasted. At $2.00 for a small cup (which I thought was actually quite large), with a free refill if you eat in, this is a deal.

Lots of interesting breakfast options, most priced at under $6. A generous slice of frittata had corn, roasted peppers, and spinach - nice and moist. Came with toast. The egg sandwich came with an egg cooked to your preference, ham, cheese, and a bit of jam - served on a homemade biscuit. A bit messy to eat (I used a knife and fork) but quite good.

Best of all was the home-made pop tart. Two flavors available today: pecan and strawberry-rhubarb. The strawberry-rhubarb pop tart was GREAT. Real fruit in the filling, not too sweet, and a nice flaky crust - forgot to ask if it was all-butter. I don't even like pop tarts, but I loved this. I think it was like $2 - again, a steal.

Bright airy space. Wi-fi available, but no outlets (to discourage potential malingerers like me, I presume).

Hours are 8:00 to 4:00, closed Mondays - the website says they'll expand those hours eventually. Sign in the window says they've applied for a liquor license.

Apparently they've been open for like three weeks, but I think they only put up a sign this past weekend.

http://kitchen388.com/

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  1. As soon as I saw that abstractpoet had peppered his impeccable prose with "like"s - used as modifiers! - I knew I had to get here immediately.

    What kind of pop tarts turn an abstractpoet into a Valley Girl? Very good ones, it turns out. In addition to the two flavors listed above, they also had banana-Nutella and cinnamon-chocolate chip today. I've only tried the strawberry-rhubarb and pecan so far.

    Menu looks good - there were some especially interesting salads (including a kamut based one that I'm dying to try) but it was too early for lunch service, and the salads are made to order (they do have some premade sandwiches for pickup.)

    re: neighborhood coffee - I once stopped in Merritt Station (near the freeway) for what I thought would be a quick caffeine fix and was surprised by the quality of their coffee (ceramic pour-over setup, Ethiopian beans).

    -----
    Merritt Station Cafe
    614 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

    12 Replies
    1. re: daveena

      I'll grant you two "likes" as modifiers. Is that excessive? =)

      Is Merritt Station the one that, recently, has put out a sign claiming that their coffee is "freshly picked off the vine" or something along those lines? I found that off-putting, but am happy to give it a try.

      The two places I was mostly thinking of, as a point of reference, were Cafe 504 (a place I like, but whose beans make for such bitter coffee that I can only stomach it in latte form) and Cana (which serves the worst Blue Bottle coffee - again, burnt-tasting and probably over-steeped).

      Did you try the coffee at Kitchen 388?

      -----
      Cafe 504
      504 Wesley Ave, Oakland, CA 94606

      Merritt Station Cafe
      614 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

      Kitchen 388
      388 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA

      1. re: abstractpoet

        Can't wait to try Kitchen 388! Close enough to Lakeside Park that I could drag the kids there from the playground. Although for homemade poptarts, I probably won't have to drag them. :-)

        Unfortunately, Cafe 504's espresso drinks can be smooth or bitter, depending on who makes them. I've found their drip coffee - which they make to order - to be quite tasty and smooth.

        I did a search for Boot & Shoe's cafe, but didn't find anything...was there a thread about it that I missed?

        -----
        Cafe 504
        504 Wesley Ave, Oakland, CA 94606

        Kitchen 388
        388 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA

        1. re: chompy

          I haven't seen a thread about Boot and Shoe's expansion, but here's an old blurb:
          http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com/20...

          I believe the coffee shop is up and running, but I haven't tried it yet or read any reports - if it's along the lines of the coffee and donuts they do at Pizzaiolo, it should be pretty good.

          Cafe 504's drip coffee is OK, but still quite bitter to my taste - maybe if you're a cream and sugar person it doesn't matter, but I find it pretty unpalatable straight up (and usually end up having to doctor it with some sugar, which I don't normally do). They've switched roasters a bunch of times too - I think they're using Sunshine beans now, which I believe is what's served at Farley's East as well. (I actually had a decent Gibraltar at Farley's recently, but haven't tried their drip coffee.)

          I do love the baked goods at 504.

          -----
          Cafe 504
          504 Wesley Ave, Oakland, CA 94606

          Farley's East
          33 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA

          1. re: abstractpoet

            I usually have cream in my coffee, but sometimes drink drip coffee black and I feel like I've had it that way at 504. But I could be misremembering. Agree about the baked goods, they are usually excellent, although I've found that it depends on who is baking that day. I have had amazing vegan coffeecake there. I honestly don't know how they make it so good without butter.

        2. re: abstractpoet

          I see three! It just made me smile because your writing voice is usually so measured and polished.

          Yup, Merritt Station is the "fresh picked" coffee place. No idea what they mean by that, but I liked the cup I had that one time. I didn't get any from Kitchen 388 today but plan to in the near future.

          I should get over to Boot and Shoe's cafe soon...

          1. re: daveena

            I ordered the house coffee at Merritt Station today (since 388 is closed on Mondays) and was directed to serve myself from a thermos in the back. When I was leaving I saw that they do indeed seem to have a setup for pour-over cups to order, but didn't see any separate menu listing for that. Do you just have to ask for it, or do they only do it some of the time?

            The coffee from the thermos was fine, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it...

            -----
            Merritt Station Cafe
            614 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

            1. re: abstractpoet

              I think I asked for the Ethiopian coffee, and they did the pour-over (which I actually hadn't expected). Sorry you got stuck with thermos coffee!

              1. re: daveena

                Ah, good to know. No worries -- the thermos coffee wasn't so terrible and only set me back $1.65. =)

            2. re: daveena

              Just wanted to follow up and say that I've had the pour over at Merritt Station a few times now, and it's better than decent -- I guess about as good a cup of coffee as you can get for $2 (tax inclusive!) these days. They actually have three different options -- I always get the Sidamo, which is a medium roast (they also have a dark and a light; all Ethiopian beans, I believe). The coffee is roasted by Due Torri, which I gather is a local company -- looks like they're opening up a shop right next door to Farley's East.

              Speaking of which, I've kind of pooh-poohed Farley's in the past, but they recently switched over to De La Paz beans, and they now offer a pour-over option that changes about once a week. I guess they felt they needed to step up their game with the much-improved coffee options up and down Grand. Anyway, I've enjoyed their pour-over drip coffee each time I've had it, though I seem to be one of the few people who order it.

              And since I bumped this thread up, I think it's worth noting that Kitchen 388 has been closed all month for an extended "winter break," which has been a bummer -- and hopefully not a bad sign for their business. They're slated to reopen on Feb. 1, and I wonder if they've been using the time off to gear up for starting dinner service, which they've been promising to do for quite some time now.

              1. re: abstractpoet

                Yelp has them marked as Closed. Maybe an over-reaction to the extended break?

                1. re: abstractpoet

                  A correction: The place opening up next to Farley's is called Anfilo, not Due Torri -- also seems focused on Ethiopian coffee.

                  Pretty bare bones website: http://anfilo.com/

                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    the Anfilo folks are serving unique and delicious Ethiopian coffee, manually roasted over an open flame and steeped inside terra cotta decanters called anfilo. it's the best open pot, no filtre or apparatus, brewed stuff you're likely to encounter. they're at the Grand Lake farmer's market on Saturdays.

          2. Just wanted to make a correction: the pop tarts are $2.95, not $2. Still well worth it, in my opinion.

            I'm snacking on the chocolate-cinnamon one right now - kind of like a less-buttery, Mexican pain au chocolat.

            Sounds like they'll start serving dinner in a few weeks.

            1. Right across the street from Room 389- what is it about that stretch of Grand that leads people to simply name their establishments for the address?

              1. I had the salmon tartine for breakfast twice now, and it was yummy. Another day, my guy and I went for lunch and split two sandwiches- chicken pesto and pulled pork. Both were yummy.
                So glad this place has arrived!

                1. This is a great space! It reminds me of a less pricey version of Summer Kitchen Bakeshop. Everything looked very fresh and well-made.

                  I tried a strawberry rhubarb poptart. Delicious flaky dough, real fruit filling. They were hot out of the oven when I got there around 8:15 in the morning (so hot that they were reluctant to serve them!). They also had pecan poptarts and brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chip. They had a few other baked goods.

                  This is a great cafe. I will definitely return when in the neighborhood.

                  1. This sounds amazing. Thank you for the post