I’m a Christmas baby, born two days before the biggest holiday of the year.
Growing up, that meant all of my presents were squeezed into two days on the 23rd and 25th of December. I never had a birthday party at school, because we were always on holiday break. Some of my friends would give me a present that was supposed to be for both my birthday and for Christmas. You can only imagine my disappointment.
That’s why I’ve always celebrated my un-birthday, or half birthday, or halfy birthday. A six-month milestone, noting that I have half a year left until I turn another year older. This gives me a chance to have a celebration in the middle of the year. If you don’t already celebrate your own halfy birthday, I suggest you start.
In honor of this day, on Sunday, Dave and I had plans to head south for a hike outside of San Jose. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate, so we had to select an indoor activity. After some serious Google research on “things to do indoors in San Francisco”, we opted to leave the city limits for some food and exploring.
I felt the need to get in the car (as a foot solider in this city, sometimes you just want to ride in a car), so we headed to Jack London Square in Oakland.
Since Dave works in Oakland, he’s been to Jack London Square plenty of times, but I had never been before.
Oakland just isn’t nice.
It’s pretty ugly. Even the nicer parts of the downtown are ugly. Jack London Square is called “Oakland’s waterfront jewel”, and is supposed to be the best place in the area to walk along the waterfront and find eclectic shops and eateries.
Not so much. It was completely underwhelming.
Side note: Jack London is an American author who wrote The Call of the Wild and other popular books. Apparently he spent much of his boyhood in the area where the square stands today, and a recreated model of a cabin he lived in is situated there.
Jack London Square wasn’t all bad. There was a little Farmer’s Market taking place that day in the rain, which did offer some good vendors. I tried sweet potato bread and saw some fine-looking pastries and fresh fruit. This market is about a quarter of the size of the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. It was a lot less crowded and wasn’t nearly as cramped.
On Sunday at 1:30pm, nearly all of the restaurants in Jack London Square were only serving from their brunch menus. We looked at the menus at every single place before committing to a location. (Which is something I always like to do if I haven’t had a chance to peruse the menu online before a visit.) We selected the all-you-can-eat-buffet brunch at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant. I don’t typically like to go to buffets, but since we were celebrating my halfy birthday, it seemed appropriate.
Scott’s had an older clientele, and most everyone looked like they had been around a while that afternoon taking advantage of the buffet. There was even an old woman with a book, who had fallen asleep with her glass of champagne. We had a corner table by the window, so we could see the (ugly) marina area and boats.
The food was pretty good. I ate five types of salmon. The mimosas were bottomless. There was live jazz music. All in all, a decent setting if you plan to take your time and enjoy several rounds at the buffet.
Even if the surrounding area isn’t glamorous, Dave and I always have a good time at our meals. During this sitting, we chatted about all the things I’d like to accomplish by the time I reach a milestone age in six months. Perhaps I will detail that list soon …
This visit to Oakland confirmed that I am not missing out on anything great at Jack London Square. It might be a good family-friendly place to see a movie or have a meal, but not a place I’d return.
Armed with full bellies and a tidbit of history, we drove off in the rain.