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Happy Hour at The Rex (Downtown Oakland)

Reese in Rockridge | Nov 18, 200404:00 PM

I went with two co-workers last night to The Rex (right across from Pacific Coast Brewery.) We tried to go to Luka's, but it was closed for a private party.

I'll start by saying I would really like to like Rex. It has a nice atmosphere for a casual weeknight place -- rich, warm paint, high ceilings, booths, and stills from old movies on the walls. The menu is fine -- a step up from bar food.

We sat ourselves, as the bartender instructed when we entered the almost empty restaurant (6:30-ish on a Wednesday). Our waitress appeared and then disappeared to get us a drink list and then since she didn't return for a while the bartender sort of covered for her through the drink phase. We ordered a Cocoa Raspberry Martini (very sweet, but good if you like that) for $6, a dirty Grey Goose martini for $7, and a Shirly Temple. Everyone ordered a second round, so no complaints there.

We ordered snacks to share: Potato Skins and Kalamata Olive Spread from the happy hour menu and Calamari and a Quesadilla from the regular menu. All were $4-7, I think. The waitress didn't know the menu and had to look while we pointed at the menu and copy the items onto her notepad. Several minutes after we felt like we really should have food, the waitress came out to tell us that we couldn't order the things off the happy hour menu anymore (it ends at 6:00) We had thought that since the place was empty, the kitchen would be more flexible, but no worries. It would have been nice if the waitress had informed us more readily, though. We added an order of veggie egg rolls to replace what we wouldn't get.

By the time we finally got food, a hoard from a nearby convention had filled half the restaurant. Ironically, although they were quite understaffed for this situation, service sort of seemed to improve and we managed to get our second round of drinks at least as quickly as our first. A couple guys who had previously been back in the kitchen appeared on the floor delivering food, but our waitress still seemed unfocused.

Food was mediocre. The quesadilla was plain, but we had left the chicken out for a vegetarian among us, so I won't blame the kitchen. The bigger problem was the minuscule dollops of sour cream, guac, and pico de gallo that accompanied it. It was awkward to have such small rations when sharing. Calamari was alright -- better than I would have expected compared with the other food -- non-rubbery. Veggie egg rolls tasted like something bought from a grocery freezer and baked -- thick, non-crispy outer wrapping. Bread and butter was complimentary -- both came out cold.

Since this place is pretty close to my office, I'd be interested to know if I just hit it on an off night. I would love it if it were something I could like.

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