My friend Sophia texted me from Grand Fare Market one day last week and asked me to join her for food, wine and conversation. Those are three of my favorite things, so you already know I headed over to meet her there. It’s a market with packaged and prepared foods, where you can pick up a meal on your way home or eat on the sunny patio, if you prefer. We always have a great time together, but when it came to my first look at the market, there were some pros and cons:
Con – It was confusing for staff and customers. You were supposed to order at the different stations, then pay at the front counter, but there was a lot going on in a small space. They gave you a number and delivered food to your table, but you had to go inside again if you want to order anything else. When a woman at a nearby table did that, a staff member cleared her food before she was finished. And after about 20 minutes, I realized some of our food hadn’t been delivered, so Sophia had to get up and track down someone on staff, because we didn’t have a dedicated server. The market was only open for about a week when we went, so hopefully all of this will get more organized over time.
Pro – I’m no wine expert, but I noticed that they had some unusual varietals on the wine list. I asked for a recommendation that would go with our food and they poured a couple tastes. And after I chose the Verdicchio, they gave me a generous pour.
Con – It was cramped on patio. Maybe it’s because I had a big bag with me, but it was hard to slide into my seat without bumping into a man sitting at the next table.
Pro – While we didn’t try the prepared food, I heard it was delicious and it looked like a nice place to grab dinner on a weekday. The chef is Ben Coe, who was running the kitchen at the now extinct Box & Bells.
Con – The food was expensive. Sophia and I weren’t really hungry, so we just ordered a glass of wine, a beer, a charcuterie plate and six oysters and that came up to around $75. The sandwiches alone were around $14 and sides were $7. These aren’t everyday prices for me, so it felt more like a special occasion restaurant than a place where I would pick up dinner on a Tuesday.
Pro – Tips were included in the prices, so maybe this explains why everything was so expensive. This could be a good thing if they’re split evenly between service and kitchen staff.
Con – Since there were no servers, you might not have to tip in a place like this anyway. What do you think? If you have to get up to order another glass of wine, would you leave a tip?
Pro – There was some diversity in the staff and clientele, so it made the space a lot more welcoming with all kinds of people represented.
Con – Even with the diversity, it didn’t really feel like Oakland and I can’t really explain why. It felt like I was in Napa, which isn’t a bad thing if I’m on vacation, but since I was on Grand Avenue, I was missing the soul of the town.
Have you been to Grand Fare Market? What did you think?