In under a month, newcomer Local Cafe is already charming Piedmont Avenue neighbors and luring Oaklanders for a morning coffee or a quick bite to eat. Owners Megan Burke and David Crombie joined up with Colin Etezadi, formerly of Boot and Shoe Service, Pizzaiolo and Camino, to craft a menu that is seasonal, well-crafted, and relies on many local ingredients and products.
For breakfast, they serve drip coffee and espresso beverages from Graffeo along with fresh-squeezed juices, housemade granola, breakfast sandwiches, toast and INNA Jam, and pastries from Starter Bakery. I have yet to get over there in the morning, but I've heard rumors that the espresso drinks alone are worth the jaunt. I can attest that this is certainly the case with the salads and sandwiches.
When you walk in for lunch, you're met with warm, modern decor (think Adesso with a cooler color palate), oversized lighting fixtures, chalkboard menus and a lovely community table. Walking up to the register, you'll see a cold case full of fun bottled beverages including lemonades, root beers, small bottles of Dr. Pepper and juices and teas. We were seated and given paper menus although I noticed a few couples ordering right at the counter, so it looks like it could go either way depending on how busy it is at the time.
We began with a few housemade iced teas and the Cheese Platter which featured fresh pears and a few different kinds of soft cheeses. I have to say that I do like a firm salty cheese with my pears as well; this would be a nice addition. Other than that, the pears and cheeses are accompanied by thinly sliced, toasted bread and it makes for a nice nibble while you're waiting for your lunch to arrive.
My handsome dining partner and I split the Chef's Salad and the Egg Salad Sandwich served on an Acme roll. I always associate Chef's Salads with bad, corporate cafeterias but I hadn't tried one in so long and it was the most substantial salad on the menu so we went for it. The lettuce was nice and crisp and the salad itself was lightly dressed and seasoned. This is a good one to split with someone in conjunction with another dish--I think on its own it might be a little on the not-all-that-special side.
The Egg Salad Sandwich, on the other hand, veers to the other end of the spectrum: it is a very special sandwich. So often the problem with egg salad sandwiches is that the eggs can be over-boiled and turn into a crumbly mess only held together by gobs of mayonnaise. Not at Local Cafe. Here the eggs are soft boiled and mayonnaise is used only sparingly. There are capers and watercress and great crusty bread. While I did share this sandwich, I probably wouldn't again--it's one you're going to want to enjoy all on your own.
After lunch, there are a few cookies and simple desserts along with Tara's Ice cream. When we were finishing up lunch, we asked about the root beer they sold and how sweet it was compared to more commercial root beers. Co-owner David Crombie was working the register and checking in with his customers but he took the time to actually pour us a sample and chat about our favorite brands. It's apparent from the beginning when we walked in and were greeted quickly by the inviting interior and the friendly waitstaff that this was a promising spot on Piedmont Avenue. It became even more apparent as we were leaving and chatting with David about soda, sunshine, and Oakland in general. Isn't this how all good lunches should end?
4395 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland CA
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 7am-3pm