British Invasion: The Growler’s Arm
The Growler’s Arm opened in October 2014 serving British fare in the Glenview neighborhood in Oakland. I have had two dinners at the Growler’s Arm in the past couple of months, getting a good sampling of the food from their daily changing menu.
On one evening, my friends and I arrived early and previewed a few items from their happy hour menu. Above their bar, sits a line of beautiful vegetables that are in the process of being canned. For this reason alone, we had to order the pot of house pickles. I would say the pickles are fun to eat and can hold a conversation on its own.
The cheese board came with a selection of three cheeses – a hard cheddar, a firm goat gouda, and the Vermont Creamery Coupole, a soft aged goat cheese. They were well complimented with raw honeycomb and nuts.
Fish and chips are also available on their bar menu so we decided to give it a try. What I look for in a good fish and chip is a crispy coating, a soft tender piece of fresh fish, and not greasy. These passed the test. I especially enjoyed the fries. Sharing this was a bit of a tease. (Note to self, come back for a pint and fish and chips.)
We made our way to the dinner menu and shared the pan fried bubble and squeak, a traditional English dish made from leftover potatoes and vegetables. With the added smoked bacon, broad beans, and creme fraiche, this dish had elevated itself.
I was less impressed with the warm potato salad with cracklings and soft boiled egg. Between having too many potato dishes and tasting mustard, I could forgo this dish.
A favorite of ours was the house corned beef with Savoy cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and horseradish sauce. I scraped off most of the sauce. So if you don’t already know, I am not a fan of the mustard seed family which includes wasabi and horseradish. I’ve never had corned beef in a broth and it was excellent. The meat was moist and the flavor was well balanced.
We shared two deserts. One was the Growler’s Mess which is their take on the Eton Mess. I did not like the consistency of the meringue. It was hard and crunchy. For this dessert, I prefer a chewy meringue to go with the textures of the ice cream and berries.
Our second dessert was the chocolate fondant with ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was nice to end the meal with some chocolate, but it was nothing to write home about.
I went back to The Growler’s Arm and tried some different things with a side of chips. Did I mention they serve yummy fries? This time we ordered the house cured meats and terrines. It came with pork liver, potted duck and fig jam, pork head terrine, and air dry-cured sausages with pickles. I may have enjoyed these more than my friends so it was plentiful. If I had a choice of these or the cheese platter, I would probably pick the cheese.
It happened to be Tasty Tuesday so we ordered their 3 course meal. We started with a sweet corn soup. With some of the best corn in the world from Brentwood, California, I can’t imagine a tastier version of this soup anywhere.
The main entrée was a flat iron steak with corn fritters, cherry tomatoes, and peppers. It was perfectly cooked to a medium rare in their wood fire oven.
The dessert was a summer berry trifle. Again, their desserts could use some improvement.
The additional entree we ordered that I enjoyed was the wood oven roasted half chicken with a frisée salad, roasted spring onions, cucumbers, and a pickled cucumber dressing. This was a fantastic chicken dish and great for sharing. It was moist and flavorful.
The Growler’s Arm is described as charming pub meets elegant restaurant. I agree that it is somewhere in between. If you are looking to try something different, I would recommend The Growler’s Arm. They serve quality food in a friendly environment. The restaurant gives you different opportunities to try them out. (i.e. Happy hour, Tasty Tuesday) And for your convenience, you can make a reservation through Open Table.