Fair Oaks Brew Pub

Neighborhood pub attempts food menu

The bratwurst at Fair Oaks Brew Pub, “with curled ends like an old fish left in the sun.”

The bratwurst at Fair Oaks Brew Pub, “with curled ends like an old fish left in the sun.”

photo by stephanie stiavetti

Good for: an after-work pint with friends
Notable dishes: Caprese salad, pulled pork sliders

Fair Oaks Brew Pub

7988 California Ave.
Fair Oaks, CA 95628

(916) 241-3108

Fair Oaks Brew Pub, in the Old Fair Oaks Village, is the kind of place I should love. Opened about three years ago, it’s a cute little brick-walled pub with an unpretentious neighborhoody feel. The staff are friendly and the patrons even friendlier. The variety of beers includes an admirable selection of smaller breweries, such as Mother Earth Brew and Six Rivers Brewery.

The backdrop was set for it to become my new favorite watering hole; alas, it was not meant to be.

I made four visits to the Fair Oaks Brew Pub, hoping it would—nay, begging it to—restore my faith in its food menu. One lunch visit went relatively well. The remaining three dinner visits? Not so much. In the end, I wondered why the owners didn’t ask the lunch cook to take over the night shift and salvage their savory fare.

At midday, the pulled pork sliders were good, but languished at room temperature. The one saving grace was the Caprese salad—ultimately the only thing on the menu that I found 100 percent enjoyable—with fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinaigrette and a generous amount of basil.

Then, on a dinner visit, the BLT was… average. Not good but not bad, either. It tasted like something Mom might throw together as a last-minute dinner. The pulled pork sandwich was tasty but room temperature and soggy. The Pizza Margherita—while unattractive and looking like something out of a cafeteria—was surprisingly the best thing on the table, with a cracker-crisp crust and a generous amount of fresh mozzarella.

I finished my food and realized my plate of bratwurst was missing. After 30 minutes passed, the waitress began avoiding eye contact. I finally flagged her down for an awkward conversation:

Her: “The cook said he had a problem with the poaching.”

Me, confused: “A problem? Like the water wasn’t hot enough?”

Her: “Yes.”

Me: “…”

When my brats finally arrived, it was a sorry sight to behold: two sausages sliced in half lengthwise, each with curled ends like an old fish left in the sun. A puddle of gray sauerkraut pooled to the side. I tried a bite of the bratwurst, which tasted like generic grocery store sausages. The sauerkraut tasted like nothing at all.

Subsequent visits were no better. A cheeseburger was covered in so many soggy onions, it fell apart and gave me an upset stomach.

But the icing on the cake was when I got my bill and saw an extra charge for the fries I’d received with my burger. When I inquired, my server told me that fries cost 50 cents. While I’m not one to quibble over two quarters, this surprised me because the fries had just appeared with my burger. Why not just raise the price of the burger 50 cents and avoid the awkward billing? My server shrugged and walked away.

So, what’s the final word on the Fair Oaks Brew Pub? If you’re looking for a friendly spot to grab a pint, this place is for you. If you’re looking to eat, consider going somewhere else.