After all the positive reports on Gregoire, I was really looking forward to trying it, and was even a bit embarrassed I hadn't yet been...So last week, when I needed to bring something to a potluck meeting after work and had no time to cook, I decided to see if it would fit the bill.
Went to the Oakland location (on Piedmont Ave). Parking was easy, in the City (metered) lot right behind Gregoire. First surprise: at about 5:30 the place was empty, and I had it to myself the entire fifteen or so minutes I was in there. That would have made it appealing to sit at the counter for an early dinner: I expected a much busier scene based on the descriptions...
I had promised to bring salad to the potluck. I only needed enough for about four or five persons, and while I knew salad wouldn't be the mainstay of Gregoire's menu, I figured if they didn't have anything appropriate I could always head to Piedmont Grocery across the street. No problem, however, the June Gregoire menu includes what is described as "Epic Root mâche salad with Point Reyes blue cheese dressing & toasted walnuts". I told the counter man (tall, red hair, freckles and definitely French: is this Gregoire himself?) that it was for a group: I still got four seperate packages (annoying, but I guess it is all they have) but he did pack the salad dressing seperately for me to toss.
There have been lots of raves about the potato puffs, so got an order of those as well.
It seemed to take a rather long time to get my order ready given that I was the only customer, but I wasn't paying a lot of attention to try and figure out why; the potato puffs were certainly hot, so perhaps they are made to order after ordering. I'm not complaining, as it could be a good thing that it took awhile. Just an observation. I could see the wait getting to be significant if the place is full.
I tried my first potato puff as I pulled out of the parking lot: the puff was obviously freshly made: I had to let it cool for about four minutes before I could eat it. It looked delicious, but what a disappointment! It was quite unpleasantly chalky on the outside and completely bland on the inside! Yechh...is that really how they are supposed to taste? I took the rest of the order to the potluck, and interestingly, reaction was totally mixed and completely along gender lines: the two guys present both tried them and said 'Yummm!: the two women had the same reaction I did..No idea what that means....
As for the salads: the greens were reasonably fresh, but didn't have a lot of flavor at all, which surprised me. The salad had a few walnuts, a few croutons that tasted no better than those you might get on a McDonalds salad, and the blue cheese dressing was unremarkeable. It was a generous portion however.
Bottom line: I am hoping that mains are better than these two side dish offerings. If not, then all I can say is, 'huh?'I'll give it another shot, I'm sure, but, what do folks see in this place?
ps: before ordering I had walked over to Peet's to stock up, and noticed that Cesar seems to be getting closer to being ready to open. It appears that it will have a quite large patio. I look forward to enjoying a meal there!
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