It was Sunday night and we'd been working all day and we wanted to have a nice, but simple meal, not too far away from home (San Leandro). I wanted Italian, but my first choice, Sergio's Trattoria, was closed and none of the other Italian restaurants we've tried around here are that good. So I settled for Mezze which serves Mediterranean food in Oakland.
I can't really write a full review of the restaurant as all we had were main dishes. All the 5 or 6 appetizers offered were either salads or seafood-based, things I don't eat. We also decided to skip dessert because we were hoping to try a new Argentine gelato place on Fruitvale Ave. (we didn't make it before it closed :(.
Mezze seems to be mostly a neighborhood bistro. It's located in a pretty small, spartan room, with an open kitchen in the back and a large bar against one wall. It's quite pleasant and would work well if it didn't have grander aspirations. The wait staff's style of dress, with black vests, ties and long white aprons, gives it an appearance of fanciness that's a bit out of place. This is really a place where you would stop by for a meal, rather than make a special trip to. When I called on Sunday about an hour before I wanted to go for dinner, the receptionist sounded surprised. The restaurant was half-empty when we arrived, so her reaction was understandable.
Service was very good. They quickly turned a table for four at the front of the restaurant in a table for two, so Mike (who is using crutches) would have extra space to sit down. Bread and water was brought promptly and the food came in good time.
Two types of bread were served. The slices of french bread were OK, though nothing to get excited about, but the focaccia with walnuts and what tasted like parmesan cheese was simply delicious. Olive oil rather than butter was served as an accompaniment; unfortunately I prefer the latter.
For dinner, my first choice, lamb merguez pizza, was not available so I settled for a dish of penne with sausage, olives and eggplant (about $14). It was good, nicely-spiced, but didn't distinguish itself as a dish I would order again. The portion was very generous, but I got bored eating it before I finished half of it. I think I would have liked it more with some parmesan cheese (it was not offered), but that's just me. Mike ordered the small steak (I forgot the dish's name, but it was petit something), which came with shallots and a nice sauce. It was very aptly-named; the steak really couldn't have been much smaller. It was tender, but not particularly flavorful and for the price (over $20), it should have been much better. In all, we felt that the dishes were overpriced.
Mike had a glass of the house cabernet sauvignon, which was good, though not outstanding. I had the Pinot Noir ($8 for a full glass) and it was interesting. Very light, very fruity, with almost no acidity but a bit bland. I enjoyed it, but would not order it again. What I do recommend that you order is the Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon which is also served by the glass. I've had it before and it's truly delicious (I didn't order it that night because we just bought several bottles to enjoy at home).
As I had only eaten half of the pasta, I asked for the remaining part to go. They brought it backed in a paper bag (I assumed it was in some type of container inside the bag, but I didn't look). I made the mistake of carrying it on my lap on the way home. At some point, it began leaking, and before I realized it, my whole skirt and part of the car were filled with sauce. It was quite disgusting. Cleaning my car at night is not my idea of a good end to a dinner.
I would not go back to Mezze, both because the food was not good enough to justify either the trip or the prices, and because of the food-leaking incident.
3407 Lakeshore Ave.