Bay Area Reviews


A Caveat

Note: Grasshopper has closed

Last Friday night, my friends Eddie, Parker and Katrina went to Grasshopper for a "Girls' Night Out" sort of thing - a time to get away from the kids and commiserate as to the hardships of motherhood. We had a great time. I hadn't been to Grasshopper before but found all the food to be very good. Looking back, however, nothing was out of this world, though they do get points for consistency and innovation.

Grasshopper offers small dishes, and we asked that they be brought as they came out of the kitchen, though making sure that we didn't have more than two or three at the time - the tables are pretty small. We started with the spiced cashews, a simple yet very appetizing dish. The cashews had a sweet-n-barely-spicy rub that felt somewhat Indian or even Cajun. It was very good - and inspired me to use my own rubs in a similar manner.

I didn't taste a plate of sauteed chard, but Eddie stated she could be a vegetarian if only all vegetable dishes tasted like this. Everyone else - including Katrina, who is a vegetarian - seemed pleased as well. An eggplant dish was also well received, though nobody made somersaults about it - I felt it just tasted like eggplant. Katrina was happy with a dish of Gypsy peppers (sweet with a hint of spice) stuffed with fried rice, I felt it was fine and others were less impressed - but they aren't pepper people in the first place.

I found a dish of stewed duck served on rice (it has a Japanese name, which I can't remember) to be satisfying though not very flavorful. It felt like the type of food you'd eat in a cold winter night - it spoke of hominess and brought another level to this very chic restaurant. And indeed, one of my favorite dishes here was the tofu fried rice. I skipped the tofu, but the rest of the dish was wonderful, homey, rich and just plain tasty.

Two lamb chops were very good; they were nicely spiced without overwhelming the subtle lamb taste. Still, it's not really a dish you'll want to share. The star of the evening, however, were the sweet potato fries served with a curry aioli. The thin fries were fantastic: crunchy, sweet, flavorful and just to die for. Make sure you order them.

We all split a bottle of red Spanish wine ($25), which was quite pleasant though otherwise unremarkable.

Grasshopper has a slick, stylish interior that felt a little too young for me (I'm 37 and I ain't getting any younger) - but it was nice and a good place for a Girls' Night Out. Service was great; I didn't catch the name of our waiter, but it was the first night he was working there (this was on Oct. 6th, 2006) and you would have never guessed it. He was funny, friendly, attentive, accommodating and brought up our dining experience a notch. Grasshopper is lucky to have him.

In all, we had a great night and I look forward to more evenings like this in the future.

6317 College Ave
Oakland, CA
(510) 595-3557