The Oddfellows Cafe + Bar feels like something special from the moment you arrive. The exterior has a cozy European vibe, and the spacious interior makes you feel like you’ve arrived at your favorite cafe, with old brick, exposed beams, and rustic hardwood floors. The menu is printed on a large sign on the wall (and I hope this doesn’t make them reluctant to change it). The large windows are good for reading and people watching. The unusual tables in the center looked like little plastic picnic tables at first, but I’m pretty sure they were painted wood. They weren’t very popular while I was there for lunch, but I suspect they will be more popular for late night drinks. Old-timey details, like an antique typewriter, old black and white photos, Mary Jane candy, and a rustic flag, make it look like it’s been around forever. The antique Oddfellows sign shows that someone really cares about this place.
My hot tea arrived in a quaint press pot with a pre-warmed cup and saucer. Big points for the pre-warming. My pulled pork sandwich arrived with a surprisingly flattened toasted sesame bun that looked like something from Denny’s, but it tasted fine. (This is a tough category because I recently discovered RoRo BBQ, formerly the Rowdy Cowgirl, in Fremont which is hands-down the best BBQ I’ve ever had.) The sandwich looked a little lonely with just a pickle accompanying. This place seems to respect your waistline more than usual, but I was disappointed that fries aren’t even on the menu. But I like a place with moderate Euro-size portions, since it’s really all you need. I’ll let the other foodie reviews below tell more about the food.
The place reminds me of Quinn’s, just a block away, but with a more casual touch. And with hours 7a-2a daily, they’re going for all four crowds: coffeeshop/breakfast, lunch, dinner (five until midnight), and after-dinner drinks. Quinn’s often looks crowded at night so I see myself going to Oddfellows when I just want drinks.
Room for improvement… Finding the restroom felt like an expedition, so they could use much better signage. The menu needs more names to make things easier to order. For example, they offer this for breakfast: Cappucino or latte, juice + baguette (6). Couldn’t they call this the Sunrise Special or something easy so you don’t have to point and explain what you want? Also, the location is a bit difficult to find (10th between Pike and Pine, around behind Century Ballroom and across from the old KFC) so I expect to see sandwich boards on Pike and Pine. Tenth Ave doesn’t get much foot traffic so I hope it gets enough business to thrive.
I’m a huge fan of pay-first service because there’s no waiting for the check when you’re ready to leave. I was pleased to discover Quinn’s doing this, and Oddfellows does the same (dinner is regular waiter service) by giving you a number and then delivering it to you later. I always think of pay-first as the Ponderosa style service, and I’m still confused about how to tip. Any suggestions?
I have a good feeling about Oddfellows and it’s a welcome addition to the non-fancypants part of the hill.
See more photos and the menu.