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March 20, 2015

Oakland: The Growlers' Arms (CLOSED); restaurant review

880 South

The Growlers' Arms  CLOSED  4214 Park Blvd./Glenfield Ave., Glenview neighborhood, (510) 328-1315.  D Tu-Sat, Sat&SunBr; $$$.

Entering this dark corner restaurant takes you far away, into the land of friendly neighborhood pubs.  But this is not your run-of-the-mill pub.  It is a gastropub, with a finesse in service and quality in cuisine.  

The interior has an exposed wood-beam ceiling painted black, a vintage red-brick wall, and mellow Beatles music playing softly in the background.

interior of The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California

To start I chose the rarebit appetizer, which according to the waiter was made with “unctuous” white Irish goat cheese melted in a 700-degree wood-burning oven atop a slab of housemade bread and further topped with the most luscious fresh green peas.  (I love the sound of the word “unctuous” but admit I did have to look it up, and I was surprised to learn it only means “fatty.”)

rarebit at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California

My main course was a very tasty oven-roasted flat iron steak that was served sliced for easy eating.  It came with a little bowl of housemade catsup and a side of the most delicious crispy-crisp chips I’ve even eaten.

flat iron steak at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California

Fortunately, I opted for a luscious and potent Boulevardier cocktail (bourbon, sweet vermouth, Campari) to go with it.

Boulevardier cocktail at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California

My companion ordered what he says is the best trout he’s ever had, served atop whipped potato-like celeriac champ.

trout atop celeriac champ at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California

For dessert we shared the Growlers’ Mess, which is indeed a lovely mess of grapefruit segments, meringue, vanilla ice cream, and candied citrus skin whose flavor stayed in my mouth right out into the street.  I do so wish we’d had room also for the traditional Irish banoffee pie made with banana cream on the bottom and toffee on the top, and also for the sticky toffee pudding ice cream.  I can’t believe I turned those down!

Growlers' Mess at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California

We also shared “a proper pot of tea” with dessert, and I was just delighted with the floral cups and saucers that came with it.  My waiter told me that the owners themselves searched for the tea cups and mix-matched silverware at garage sales and flea markets.

a proper tea service at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California

The menu suggests ordering a picnic pork pie to go for lunch the next day.  The next day I was definitely sorry I forgot to do that.  The menu here changes daily, depending on what is good at the market, and the kitchen butchers its own meat, makes its own salumi, and prepares breads from scratch.  Plentiful seating is available in two rooms on banquettes, in booths, and at the bar.  It was obvious that many people were repeat customers, and the staff was so friendly that I’ll bet they even remember names.

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


  1. I'd go there just for that sinful looking dessert! Love these eatery tips. Will refer to your blog before our next trip to Oakland!! (You made me hungry, btw).

  2. Wow, I guess I never knew what unctuous meant for real either! If pressed, I would've said scrumptious, which your meal leery much looked!

  3. I am hungry so you did a good job

  4. House-made catsup sounds like a real treat and I loved the touch of the beautiful china teacups with the "proper pot of tea." The term "gastropub" is new to me but the Growlers' Arms will definitely be a place to visit when we travel to this part of California.

  5. Your meals look delicious, and I love the look of that dessert!

  6. Hi Carole,
    I was reading through your profile just now and was not surprised to find you've done a stint as a restaurant critic. Your mouth-watering blog post here is sprinkled with the descriptions used by an experienced reviewer.
    Great job!

  7. So glad I read your posting. I have a daughter who lives in Oakland and I know that she would enjoy discovering the Growlers' Arms!

  8. The food looked great until the dessert which was rightly named a mess :)

  9. The "unctuous" rarebit appetizer looks delicious, as does the rest of the meal at the Growlers' Arms. I wouldn't skip that dessert either!

  10. Yum.... steak and chips!! Everything looks pretty tasty. I think that “unctuous” is definitely better than "fatty". Thanks for another introduction to Bay Area gems.


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