Rich's Berkeley Blog

A blog about Berkeley and beyond. Social commentary, upcoming events, bargains, local restaurants, and more will be discussed. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Luka's Taproom & Lounge

Note: I'm posting this one as more of an actual review as I'm wavering on my actual opinion of this place. I'd say try it and decide...

My friend and I tried out Luka's Taproom & Lounge, located at 22nd and Broadway in Oakland, on Monday evening

I had heard that it was great place for drinking Belgian Beers so I went with a buddy who is a fellow Belgian Beer aficionado.

We arrived around 8 PM and found a wait at the door - 15 minutes, not too bad. This place definitely is popular and on Monday's they offer $1 oysters and $1 off draught beers.

We went up to the bar and I ordered a Maredsous #8 Abbey Ale on tap and my friend ordered an Orval. The Maredsous was very similar to most nut brown ales. I really don't care for nut brown ales so this really didn't do it for me. I've had the Maredsous #10 and that one's really good. The numbers correspond to the percentage of alcohol (among other things). They served my beer in a Maredsous brewery glass, very appropriate for a Belgian Beer as they need to be served in a glass with a small score mark at the bottom which enables a gas release or what have you.

Per above, my friend ordered an Orval. It's one of the best Belgian Beers out there; very complex is the best way to describe it. Beverages and More gave it a 98/100 ranking which is very high up there. With my friends Orval, we started catching on to the fact that this place was really hip but didn't quite know what they were doing as they gave him a Pint glass to pour his beer in to. My friend tested the bartender by having her pour it and he ended up with a glass that was about 15% beer and 85% head. At $8 for a beer you'd hope they might know how to pour them and that they would go to the effort to get real Belgian glasses to pour in instead of a standard pub pint glass.

We then sat down, ordering our meal. They brought out the cheese plate appetizer and we snacked a bit. My friend went to the bar to order another beer, due to a tab open there, and I took advantage of this opportunity to go to the bathroom. We both arrived back at the same time to find out the waitstaff had just cleared our table, beers, appetizers, etc. We did both leave our coats at our seat. They do have a lot of traffic and high turnover so who knows. They were very curteous and gave us beer and another appetizer on the house.

The food was pretty good. I had a leg of lamb my friend had fish. He said the fish was on the overcooked side and that it was a little bit old (fishy). My lamb was quite tender and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

We ordered one more beer and split it. It was a fantome saison white ghost (750ml) at $24 for 750 ml. It was an decent Belgian but still wasn't the ideal Belgian. I'm on a hunt to find a variety of Belgian beers I really like so I keep trying them out. This one is definitely crossed off the list. They served this one to us in oversized, red wine style, wine glasses.

If you want to go to a really trendy spot this could be your place. It's very expensive, 2 regular sized beers and one tall 750ml beer plus one appetizer and two entrees set us back somewhere close to/over $100. I get the idea this place is very much on the trendy side but still lacks in full understanding of what it is they're serving and how to serve it in a sophisticated fashion (ie. Belgian beer in pint/wine glasses). The presentation of the food was definitely really nice and if you like a place with a lot of people and live music next door pretty much every night this is a great place. They also have a pool table in back.

My overall feeling is that at this cost I'd much rather go to Cesar in North Berkeley or Fonda's over on Solano. You could walk in to either of these places, spend the same amount, enjoy a greater variety of food and get to drink some of the best drinks in town.


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