Last Sunday I finally had a chance to check out the fried chicken recommendation from numerous posters. Thanks to all who reported on this long-time favorite!
I was riding in the car with my sister when she mentioned Merritt Bakery and my chow memory banks clicked into overdrive. "How's the fried chicken?", I asked. She nodded and said it was so much better than Roscoe's which deserved to go out of business. It had been one of her late night stops after concerts back in the day and still a good neighborhood place. We called her husband to join us there and headed over for Sunday dinner.
Stephanie guided us to her favorite table, a booth facing the windows. It offered a nice view of the sun setting over Lake Merritt with cars whizzing by on Lakeshore and also the pie display case. Our mom had been feeding us all day, so we ordered lightly sharing a waffle and two thighs (about $8), an extra waffle and a side salad. Larry ordered the 4 piece (half chicken) dinner for about $13. Our very pleasant and sweet waitress was Emma.
Stephanie mentioned that the restaurant is popular with the retirees in the nearby senior apartments. Salad dressing is served on the side, and some of the food is a tad undersalted to accommodate their diets.
The portion of dressing was enormous (photo below), almost making me wish I'd ordered a batch of wings for dipping Buffalo style. We had two of these on the table! The salad came with a chilled fork with freshly cut and crisp greens and a couple slices of decent tomato.
The chicken was expertly fried with a crackly crust. Not spicy, and it did indeed need a little salt. The thigh pieces included the back and were so juicy that they squirt and dribble when you bit through the skin. Larry's dinner plate came with a side of corn plus mashed potatoes and gravy. The potatoes were nothing special, but I did like the gravy and could taste a note of smoky ham fat.
Most of the pastries and cakes (lots of blue and gold frosted ones for graduates) didn't look that great to us, but we thought the pies looked promising. I was also interested in trying the housemade ice cream, but we were too stuffed for dessert this outing. Advice in this area would be appreciated.
Note that it's no longer open 24 hours.
Merritt Bakery & Restaurant [East Lake]
203 East 18th St.
Oakland, CA 94606
Open 6am to 1am
7 days a week and holidays