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Katya’s Google Café Reviews Part I: No Name, Andale & Oasis

katya | May 7, 2008 12:41 PM

I’ve been putting together my reviews of the cafes at Google for the last several months. Every few months I’ll post more. Here are my first three – No Name Café, Andale, and Oasis. My rankings of all the cafes I’ve visited are at the bottom. As everyone probably knows by now Google cafes are only accessible to people who work at Google and their guests.

1)No Name Café

I'm jealous of people who work at Google. There, I said it. It's really all about the food. The husband started working there several weeks ago so now I get to live vicariously through him. Whenever I visit, we hit up the best offerings from 4-5 restaurants. My favorite? No Name.

No Name is trying for a Mediterranean vibe. They always have nicely grilled meats or skewers and some Mediterranean-influenced salads and side dishes. There is a salad bar with an impressive amount of ingredients and a chef will toss it with dressing to order. No Name also always has yummy pretzel bread as well as water infused with a different fruit (pineapple, orange, or lemon on my three visits).

Menu highlights:
Pumpkin cranberry bundt cake
Spinach salad in a coconut dressing with lychees
Grilled free range chicken (nicely seasoned)
Papaya salad

The husband liked but I didn't:
Ahi tuna in a Thai viniagrette
PB&J cookie (they also had PB&J sandwiches available)

Only okay
Coconut rice
Lemongrass coconut soup

No Name is on the small side, but consistently offers better fare (if less selection) than Charlie's across the way.

No Name
Google “Downtown”
Huff & Charleston

2) Andale
Andale is Google's newest cafe. I could be wrong but I believe it's the first outside restaurant to set up shop on the Google campus. I've been to the Andale location in Los Gatos. Maybe I ordered wrong at the Los Gatos location (not to mention that I ate at the Andale taco shack across the street from the main restaurant), but the Google Andale blows it out of the water.

Even though we arrived after 1 p.m., the line to order burritos and tacos reached all the way through the restaurant to the door. It didn't matter to me because I was all about the sides which were all self-service and didn't have a line. These included:

-Salad - REALLY good; greens (lots of fancy organic leaves, too) with pepitas, grilled onions, and manchego cheese
-Fruit salad - Pineapple, mango, watermelon, and honeydew melon tossed with lime juice and chili flakes (a better combination that it might sound; this was really good)
-Guac - Yummy, fresh tasting guac (so good I ate it with my fork when I ran out of chips)
-Chicken fajitas - The husband really likes this dish here (served with fresh tortillas), though today it was a little watery

There is a different agua fresca every day. Today was pineapple and it was perfect. There is also a salsa bar with many to salsas to choose from, and good thick fresh chips that aren't too salty or greasy.

The only problem with eating at Andale (beside the line) is that it's really tiny and there are hardly any seats. Like most people we headed across the hallway to No Name to sit (and sample more wares).

I sampled food from four different Google cafes today. Andale easily had the best.

Google “Downtown”
Huff & Charleston

One cool thing to look for next to the stairs between No Name Café & Andale:
The Great Wall of Meng. It’s a wall of pictures that an engineer had snapped of himself with different famous people. Now whenever anyone famous visits Google they actually seek out Meng to get the requisite picture. Celebrities include Jimmy Carter, Gwyneth Paltrow, John McCain, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Steve Wozniak, Mikhail Gorbechev, Muhammed Ali, The Dalai Lama, and so many more.

3) Oasis

The husband and I grabbed some Google bikes and took a leisurely ride over to Oasis in the southwest corner of the Google campus. Oasis makes you think of deserts, camels, and Mediterranean food so of course this is the café known for Chinese food and dim sum. (Meanwhile No Name Café serves Mediterranean food and is called No Name Café. Get your A game going on the restaurant naming, Google.)

We had the best Chinese food I’ve had at Google. I’ll also assume the Asian fare they serve is fairly authentic since the white population is about 15% at Oasis as opposed to 40% at Charlie’s. I read that Olivia Wu (respected chef from The San Francisco Chronicle) is the chef here.

Of course the menu changes daily but this is what we ate:
Szechuan Green Beans – Crisp with a flavorful sauce
Turkey Kung Pao – Tasted very good yet healthy
Buffalo Burgers – The husband liked (I didn’t try)
Pizza with Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Green Olives and Eggplant – Good but not amazing (GBNA) (My problem with Google pizza is that despite sitting under heat lamps it’s always too cold)
Pears/Walnuts – Healthy yummy dessert
Butterscotch Mini Cake – Really yum

The décor is your usual Google café. The only unique thing I noticed was a poster made up of various Photoshopped cereal boxes (I've since noticed this poster at many cafes including the one in New York). They had been changed to incorporate employees’ names. My favorite was “Raisin Brin” with a photo of CEO Sergei.

Plymouth & Alta (I think)

My Google Café Rankings:

2) Hemispheres (in New York City)
4) Slice
5) Cafe Moma
7) Charlie's
8) Fourteen
9) Lunch Box

Previous thread about Google cafes:

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