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Oddfellows Cafe + Bar = Welcome Addition

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.

Other reviews here and here.


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12 thoughts on “Oddfellows Cafe + Bar = Welcome Addition

  1. I really dig this place as well! The super high ceilings and subtle details make it feel really open and welcoming. Seems more mature than Smith yet open to all, not just aging hipsters if you will. Definitely going back!

  2. I admit, I was a bit skeptical at first, and frankly, felt a little twinge of guilt walking in the first time during the early days of SNOWPOCALYPSE 2008, since Odd Fellows has taken over a large portion of what used to be Freehold. But, the generous portion of Shepherd’s Pie I had on my first visit definitely prompted me to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    And even though my second visit for dinner a few days later proved a bit problematic – the staff being clearly unversed on the menu items, for one – the in-shell clam chowder with chorizo and garbanzos turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

    Hopefully, they’ve had a chance to work out most of the opening bugs by now, and I’ll definitely be back.

  3. I really like Oddfellows. I hope the menu matures a bit as time goes on, but it seems like they are willing to grow. The staff is really friendly and helpful. It’s a great place to hang in the morning with your laptop and coffee.

    Love their cereal krispy bars. Yum.

  4. Won’t talk food yet because I’ve had two of the most boring items they offer (which were still nummy) toast and an apple cin. scone.

    The space is fantastic. If you’re gonna go displacing artists (i keeeed!), this is the way to do it. I really enjoyed hanging out there under the super tall ceilings and windows. Too bad the abandoned KFC ruins have to be there to stare back at me. Go away.

  5. i just gave the place a try for lunch. it’s not bad. the onion jam, cheese and ham panini is pretty good. i like the pickles there better than at smith. the space is odd – a little cavernous and not as homey as i had hoped but i’d go back and try it for both breakfast (the breakfast panini sounds good) and drinks/dinner. my main regret is not ordering a beer with lunch.

  6. I have to disagree….my first experience a few days ago was absolutely awful. I love Volunteer Park Cafe and I practically live at Smith, so I was expecting this sort-of-love-child of the two to blow my mind a little. Nope. My companion and I got up and left soon after having been served two mushy, lifeless three-cheese, onion jam and ham sandwiches (this item couldn’t have been a more gross version of the divine onion jam sammich at Smith: ugly white bread smeared with a lumpy spreadable cheese, ham that tasted cheap and chemical, like something you’d expect from a plastic-wrapped sandwich out of a vending machine. Our frites were cardboard and the frites fancypants mystery sauce seemed like a variation of (not an improvement on) the VPC special ketchup. Our cocktails were ok. We tipped our waitress royally since she waived the cost of our rejects without batting an eye; that was nice. Lucky for us Quinn’s was practically across the street, and we were able to drink Aberlour a’bunadh and eat potato gnocchi with rabbit ragout topped with an effervescent cube of apple cider vinegar foam…!

  7. i will agree that the space and atmosphere is nice. i’ve been there 3 times now (all lunch) and it’s felt kinda like being back at school in the cafeteria, which is what i think they were going for. the service, while shaky on day two, has matured a bit and seems to be getting better every time i go.

    i don’t know that i would compare it to quinn’s as i feel they are two different experiences. quinn’s is more experimental with their food and a pub first and foremost whereas oddfellows strikes me as more cafe that just happens to have a small bar.

    as for food, i really wish the sandwiches came with something other than a pickle. for the price i’m paying (about $8) i would expect at least a small handful of potato chips. that said, the food is pretty good, not astounding, but better than a lot of places and really good for the location (just think we could still have the kfc there, bleck). here are some pics i took of the food:

    shepherds pie
    shepherds pie
    french dip

    all-and-all i think this is a very good place for lunch and will try to get over there for dinner sometime soon.

  8. Tried this place out yesterday with my friend. Thought the strata/salad was delish.

    Only critique was that when we were placing the order, my friend wanted to order the poached egg dish and asked for them hard, the girl told her she couldn’t specify that, so she asked for them scrambled instead. The girl informed her that they weren’t a “short order diner” which I think was a little silly. It’s not that unusual or that big of a deal to specify an egg. Why not please the customer if it’s not that unreasonable of request?

  9. I love this place! It’s warm and welcoming for any day of the week. I have enjoyed friday afternoon chamgane cocktails with my mom, great meals with friends in the evenings and also gone in just alone. Whatever the occasion, I’d reccomend trying it out. Oh yes and have a chamagne cocktail, they’re FABULOUS!