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Aug 22, 2014 08:10 PM

Jack's Oyster Bar & Fish House-Jack London [Oakland]

Jack's Oyster ... is next to Forge. eatery has nice setup: patio, bar seating, inside room dining.

no happy hour anything.

"reach" oyster, washington. 1.5@oyster of the day. 3 usual price.
-sweetness, saltiness couldn't be tasted. dips too flavorful, overwhelmed oyster taste, rather than enhance it.
*had the runs an hour later since the habanero sauce was so hot.

clam chowder (small plate 9)
-mostly bacon, smoked potato, celery, thyme. no clams tasted
no clams listed either. disappointed at lack of clams

brew: dark stout, linden st(6)
-full body, tasty.

-clam chowder order was forgotten. asked about it an 1/2 hour later. barrista claimed i didn't order it. remember her saying i would enjoy it. nada.
-steak is also on the menu
-Jack's not a traditional seafood eatery.
336 Water St. Oakland
Jack London Sq.

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  1. their website (in progress) touts local and sustainable seafood, but apparently only sustainable applies to some or most of the oysters they offer (and one of their featured arthopods, lobster) -- not necessarily a negative, if they have the best and freshest molluscs from Washington or BC. there were several negative comments on yelp (besides yours) about their service -- a significant mis-step if their management wants folks to become regulars -- and their clam chowder recipe. gives me the impression they focused on the cocktail making more than getting a good executive chef, but might try 1.50 oysters once they disclose what beer is on tap.

    5 Replies
    1. re: moto

      draft beers mostly local: linden, ale, stone?, drakes?, mostly light ales types, etc. dark lager was the darkest one available, not listed either. only 6 listed. saw at least 10-12 spouts.

      overheard oysters of the day @1.5 available only till 6. not mentioned on menu.

      yep. alcohol pricey. cocktails 10+, wines glass @11+, long back shelf of artisan spirits on display.

      1. re: moto

        They just opened this week. Cut some slack.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          "cut some slack"? Jack's charged full price, pricing on the high end. no happy hour pricing, no discounts. i expect full service.
          i tipped the going rate though the barrista screwed up.

          i would cut some slack if some "promo" was ongoing with their sloppy rollout. why should i suffer while the eatery racks in the dough?

          1. re: shanghaikid

            It takes most restaurants a few weeks to get everything working smoothly. Erratic service and inconsistent food are so common in that shakedown period that I don't think they're any indication of future potential.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              what you say is true. it's fortunate the owners/partners may have deep pockets to wheather the losses till they get it right.

      2. I hope they pull it together altho we've experienced service issues at Bocanova (same owner) as well. Like Chris Pastena, I don't think these guys have a good handle on how important the front of the house is.

        For a very short while on the Jack's website (it's now OVER, so don't look for it!) they were offering a prepaid special deal: $100/food & drink for $60. My DH loves oysters, so I figured I'd use the card to take him for his birthday dinner in October. Now I've got my fingers crossed! Will report back after the dinner.

        1. Stopped by for brunch. Cool mural of the Bay Bridge, SF, & Oakland along the dining room wall to the bathrooms.

          Had half a dozen of the $1.50 oysters, squid ink "carbonara", and soft shell crab with black garlic sauce & kimchi.

          The oysters were small, sweet & lightly briney. I can't remember the type, but wasn't one of the ones on the menu. Maybe the "Reach Island" that ShanghaiKid got.

          The server didn't provide any sauce descriptions so the first oyster got way too much of habanero sauce (upper left sauce) The cocktail sauce was good, but the mignonette was kinda bland.

          The "carbonara" was ordered with no bacon and looked interesting with the unbroken, slow cooked egg yolk on top. Mixing it in found an unexpected briney broth which completely diluted the rich egg yolk. It had thick squares of pasta which seemed odd. The dish, as a whole, was a little underseasoned, maybe accentuated / caused by the omission of the bacon.

          The soft shell crab dish was the winner with two lightly battered and crisp crabs sliced in half. Both crabs had the tomalley. Nice umami from the black garlic sauce.

          The kimchi was made from scallions and while looking like it might have a kick was completely tame in flavor.

          Service was so-so which is hopefully because it was day 4 of operations.

          1. We went to Jack's Sunday afternoon. We ordered a dozen of the $1.50 oyster (Steamboat, a new one for me) and after trying each of the three sauces, stuck to lemon- the habanero was particularly ill-suited as an oyster accompaniment. I doubt they'll sell much of the other oysters before 6pm given the huge price gap ($36 to $48 a dozen). These took quite awhile to come out, as there was just one shucker.

            The poke was good, with crisply-fried sheets of seaweed and a superfluous quail egg yolk, but we only got 5 or 6 small cubes of ahi for $14 (perhaps I'm biased- I'll be buying poke by the pound on Kaua'i for less than that in a few weeks).

            The clam chowder is really bacon chowder- we had two undistinguished clams. The smoked potatoes seemed like ordinary potatoes, and were undercooked with a crisp, apple-like texture. It is on the menu as a "small bowl," but at $9 it's priced like a bowl and served like a cup.

            Cocktails were good, but continue the diminutive-yet-pricey theme- $11 or $12 for a small martini glass and an even smaller, wine festival-type glass for the Manhattan, both 2/3 full.

            The television seems out of place for what I think they're aiming for.

            JLS needs a decent seafood-focused restaurant but I fear Jack's is not it. From the rest of the menu, they meddle with the lobster roll by grafting it onto a pretzel bun and adding cole slaw, and I don't think I could ever justify $23 fish and chips.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pius Avocado III

              Thanks for taking one for the team ... All these reports are seriously bumming me out! I was hoping for a Sea Salt (in its good years) replacement conveniently located in JLS.

            2. Went for a late lunch / early dinner yesterday around 4:45. They were fully booked, host said he could give us a two-top if we didn't mind clearing out by 6:30, so we sat at the bar. It was quite comfortable.

              Clam chowder was very good, white style, delicious fresh clams and lots of smoky bacon, relatively light, I think they must use mostly stock with less dairy than most.

              Pickled mackerel with red curry and yogurt was I guess kind of Scandinavian-Indian fusion? Mackerel was great, very fishy, don't order it if you don't like that.

              Maine lobster roll "sliders" used split-top house-made pretzel rolls, great flavor, I'd maybe ask for the butter sauce on the side as the rolls started to get soggy. Came with fries and coleslaw. Fries were pretty good, would be good in fish & chips. Coleslaw was excellent, similar to what Sea Salt used to make.

              Lobster poutine with mornay and bacon was as tasty and absurdly rich as it sounds.

              Bay shrimp cocktail was very good, nicely seasoned, wasabi was a good fit.

              Baked sardines were meaty and nicely filleted, another nice fishy dish for those who like that.

              Fried artichokes were the one dish that didn't hit the mark. They tasted like they were out of a jar. The server told us that they were prepped fresh just before service. Maybe they parboiled them too long? Go figure.

              I did not like the Bartalotti Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc on tap. A bottle of Gamling & McDuck Chenin Blanc was good.

              Looking forward to going back to try more things. The fish sandwich with coleslaw looked great.

              Service was friendly, attentive, and professional. They didn't charge us for the artichokes.