Oyster Reef was uber mediocre
The freshness of the salmon and the fact that it was cooked correctly was the only thing that saved this place from the bad category.
Id go there again for the following reasons:
To sit on the outdoor deck on a sunny day and nurse a beer (maybe try a burger or oyster poor boy)
To sit in the bar on a Saturday night and listen to live jazz while nursing a beer and gazing out on the water
If I was in the immediate block and someone else was paying and I chose selectively.
The restaurant is on the water on the Oakland estuary leading to that old Bay Area formula: water view + large portions = mediocre food / high prices. They were charging Scomas prices with nowhere near the ambiance or quality. The pictures on the website look nicer than the place looks. Think Barbaras Fish Trap in décor, but not in terms of food.
There is an enclosed porch over the water and on a warm night like tonight the windows could be opened.
The website says that it opened in 1984 and thats exactly the problem they have that 1980s fine dining menu and never changed it steak, fish, chowder, cheesecake.
There is this little odd Thai detour where they have a few things like Thai Hot and Sour Soup, Oyster Reef Specialty Salad (fresh lime juice, nampa, ginger, mint, cilantro, lemon grass, tomatoes, cucumber), Thai Snapper, and the Asian Accent (Sautéed prawns, scallops and calamari with bell peppers, onions, bamboo shoots, green chili in a basil ginger sauce, over seasoned rice).
The reason I would be nursing a beer is that the wine is not of a sufficient quality to merit an average of $8 - $9 a glass. I ordered the fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade could be, but the strawberry tasted like the juice from a package of frozen sweetened strawberries.
They should be ashamed of the bread. It tasted like a Safeway French loaf and was microwaved and turning hard around the edges.
Even though warning bells were going off, I ordered the Oysters VernTex - Large Pacific Oysters grilled in shell with garlic, butter, onions and white wine
Those were the biggest oysters I have ever seen. The shell was longer than my Bic pen and the oyster was almost as big. The server didnt know what kind they were, just that they were shipped from Seattle. It finally breaks my theory that anything tastes good with enough garlic and butter.
These were the variety of oyster I hate, the soft, sloppy, watery type. They were so big I had to use my knife to cut them in half. A crust of garlic and butter formed on top which wasnt bad but didnt do much for the oyster. They also have oysters Rockefeller, BBQd and on the half shell. Dont know if they are all these behemoths.
The salmon slice was huge and perfectly grilled. It came with a enormous serving of broccoli florets and crinkle cut, tasteless carrots that were lightly buttered. Rice, baked potato or garlic mashed potatoes come with the entrees. Dont get the garlic mashed potatoes, another beyond big portion that sat on a bed of almost raw garlic. It looked like piped potatoes for the Jolly Green Giant and they didnt have any particular potato taste.
Did not bother with dessert.
Service was friendly, but then again, like the restaurant was far too casual for the prices being charged a lobster tail is $32.
Even the view was mediocre. Yes it was on the estuary with a few tug boats, private boats and crews practicing. But the bay view was blocked by Alameda and a port of Oakland building, so the marinas in the estuary were the majority of the view.
Of course, I could have chosen wrong. The lady at the next table said she really liked her cioppino which included an Alaskan king crab leg as well as crab. They were really busy early on Friday night also. Someone likes them.
I dont think it is horrid like the Pier 39 restaurants which cant even cook fish correctly. Entrees are so big they can really be split for two which would make the prices less deadly. I wish they would make the portions smaller with lower prices and up the quality of the sides and they really do need decent bread. At Scomas there is a great sourdough.
Heres a link to a review by the Chronicle retro no kidding
Now does anyone know anything about ZaZoos which is down the street from the Oyster Reef? All I can find is that they are in the old Rusty Scupper building. They were closed tonight for a party of 150. Looking at the faded menu on the front, it seemed pretty standard seafood/burgers/omelets but then I noticed kebabs. Googling, it seemed a few Persian groups held dinners there. It is next door to Fox TV (Channel 2) on the Embarcadero.