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udon

Luka's Taproom

Posted by merle_food on 2006.11.10 at 21:15
I have heard raves about Luka's for years now, but never really wanted to go that badly -- it seemed expensive, and quite possibly hyped up. The people who loved it were the people who tend to like expensive things whether they are good or not. But someone else was paying, so, eh, I figured it was worth a try.

We were seated quickly, and then completely ignored. The servers were all standing around chatting. I would say that this was a place where if you did not order a drink you get bad service (as all too many places are), but they had not even asked about drinks. Some ten minutes later someone finally wandered over. (oddly enough, the service miraculously improved after noon hit and all of the tables were full -- probably they just wanted to get rid of us!)

Even with just five tables of people it was very loud. Once the place filled up, it was much worse. My throat was feeling raw towards the end of the meal, because we basically had to shout at each other.

I ordered the "grilled mustard crusted flat iron steak sandwich: on ciabatta w/ caramelized onions, arugula, dijon aioli & fries" because it sounded both interesting and safe. The fries were supposedly a delicacy here, because they have three homemade dipping sauces: chipotle aioli, herbed aioli, and smoked paprika ketchup. Again, everyone raves about the fries here.

The sandwich was pretty disappointing, given the description. Grilled mustard crusted flat iron steak? No. More like rare slices of steak. If there was any crust or grilling, it was on pieces not in my sandwich. Tough to eat and a bit greasy (probably from the aioli), I was not impressed.

But the fries really sealed my impression. I think they were double-fried with some bready coating of some sort, because they had this weird crunchy thing going on, with almost no flavour. The three dipping sauces that were raved about? The aioli ones tasted like.. aioli. Guess that's okay. I'm not big on having whipped oil with my fries, but whatever. The smoked paprika ketchup might impress people who have never had barbecue sauce before, but to me, it really just tasted like sweet barbecue sauce.

Maybe this is a more fun place to be after drinking a lot. Although since the cheapest beer is $4, one would want to drink a lot first before coming here. Between the noise, the poor service, and the bad food, I probably won't return, even if someone else picks up the tab.

Luka's
2221 Broadway
510/451-4677
http://www.lukasoakland.com/


Comments:


Ewigweibliche
ewigweibliche at 2006-11-10 21:26 (UTC) (Link)
I went once for late night snacks and drinks. It was... well, just like you described it. Thankfully we were tucked in a back table, away from the fray so the noise didn't annoy us too much, but then being out of the fray meant we also were ignored. The cocktails were interesting and the food was good, but not worth the prices and the noise.
Merle [Food]
merle_food at 2006-11-10 21:32 (UTC) (Link)
It is surprising how many popular it is. When I go by around 5pm, it is usually already packed. Maybe it is just in an excellent location, since many people do go by it on their way to or from the freeway.

Supposedly the Sunday brunch is good, and not terribly crowded. But, eh, I would rather not risk it...
Ewigweibliche
ewigweibliche at 2006-11-10 22:58 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, if I want weekend brunch I'd rather walk round the corner to Mama's Royal (such good huevos rancheros) or go all posh to Rick and Ann's.
Merle [Food]
merle_food at 2006-11-10 23:19 (UTC) (Link)
Being able to walk to brunch is a big plus.

I wasn't amazingly thrilled by Rick and Ann's. The food was good, but it was elbow-to-elbow crowded the one time I went, and we felt rushed through the meal, even though we had stood around for almost an hour waiting for a table. It was close to graduation weekend, though - perhaps it is calmer during the rest of the year?

I'll have to try Mama's Royal one of these days. Huevos rancheros, done well, can be fabulous.
Lexica
lexica510 at 2006-11-13 18:23 (UTC) (Link)
I got fed up with Mama's Royal Cafe a while ago — the service is just too slow and indifferent for me to deal with. spiritualmonkey and I are very fond of Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe in Emeryville, though. Good food and reasonably decent service, and lots of cool tattoos to look at.
Ewigweibliche
ewigweibliche at 2006-11-13 18:42 (UTC) (Link)
I do like Rudy's but I find the service and the wait about the same. And often Rudy's music can be a bit too loud - add to it the thrum of a crowded metal box and conversation becomes tedious.
Lexica
lexica510 at 2006-11-13 19:10 (UTC) (Link)
The first time we went there it was with my dad and stepmom (because the three other places we tried first stopped serving at 2:00 on Sunday). spiritualmonkey and I loved it. Dad & Stepmom were a little less enamored of "Holiday in Cambodia" on the stereo. :-)

We have different perceptions of the service, I think. At Mama's Royal Cafe there's an attitude that comes across to me as "we're doing you a favor to allow you in to eat". I don't get that vibe at Rudy's, which is why I prefer it.
(Deleted comment)
Merle [Food]
merle_food at 2007-04-10 16:38 (UTC) (Link)
Luka's may just have problems with their lunches. Most of the people I know who are happy with them arrive for (or just after) happy hour, and find it busy but with good service.

When I was there, it was some ten minutes before we could flag someone down to take our order. If the fries were sitting in the kitchen for five minutes before making it out to us, that probably affected the quality.

Glad you enjoyed them! It's a nice and different sort of restaurant for that part of town. I don't think I'll rush back, but won't completely write them off...
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