With its barred windows and doors, SR24 looks like a jailhouse, but the food is anything but gruel and the staff hardly wardens. The exterior needs work, but give it time and gentrification will expand to the northwest corner of Telegraph avenue and 51st street.
SR24, named after the nearby State Route 24, delivers on classic American fare of favorites like corn chowder, fried chicken and pot pie. The dishes are nothing the home cook couldn't make, but sometimes you want a night off.
The mussels in spicy broth were standard and tame, but were pumped up with an excellent wine pairing of Prosecco. The sweet corn soup with dungeness crab and tarragon creme fraiche was lick-the-bowl delicious. The fried chicken was executed perfectly, crispy on the outside and juicy inside, complimented by vinegar slaw and mashers and gravy. The highlight was the kobe brisket pot roast. The beef was so tender I could pick through it with my fork, and juicy with a harmony of fat and flavor. The dish could have been better balanced with more than the scattering of carrots, fingerling potatoes and onions, but it was not a disappointment.
Also, do not miss the bread pudding french toast dessert. The bread pudding is more cake-like, with a thin layer of powdered sugar and a side of fruit jam and whipped cream. It was light enough for the sweet-averse boyfriend, but delicious enough for my sweet tooth.
With a menu of American classics, SR24 is family friendly with a children's menu; though the decor and tight spaces are more date night than play date. With dim lighting and lush red walls, the space is gothic chic. A scattering of funky chandeliers and throw pillows adds an eclectic touch, but doesn't quite mesh with the idea of comfort food.
The tables are also packed tight, as we easily could hear what the nearby couple were discussing. But, one thing to appreciate about the small space is the open kitchen. You can see the cooks readying your dish, but it is intimidating to know they can also see your reaction to their food.
Service is friendly and unpretentious, what you expect from an eatery aiming to be a neighborhood spot. The penny happy hour also doesn't hurt to drive in locals. From 4 to 6 P.M. Tuesday through Saturday, follow SR24 on Facebook to get a password of the day, then pull up to the bar and get a drink for less than a penny. SR24 has a little bit of everything: draft and bottled beer, wine on tap and by the bottle, a couple cocktails (no full bar) and non-alcoholic drinks like soda, water, tea and coffee.
Despite the inconspicuous facade, SR24 is a friendly, dependable weekday dinner spot. So, start searching between the couch cushions for those penny drinks.
5179 Telegraph Ave, Oakland