No, not the Laurel Heights familiar to San Franciscans, with its chain stores and baby strollers, but Oakland's Laurel District, home to personable purveyors of down-home cooking, musical instruments and lessons, locally-penned books, equine supplies, and the recently revived Laurel Lounge.
Taken over in April 2006 by a local couple -- who also happen to be neighborhood activists -- the Laurel Lounge offers microbrews and mixed drinks, darts, live music, and pool (although pool and live music don't happen at the same time as the table for one is moved to create a "stage" for the other).
Over the weekend, we celebrated St. Pat with the swinging sounds of jazz saxophone legend and local music professor Hal Stein and his Quartet (Lee Bloom on keyboard, John Wiitala on string bass, and Danny Spencer on drums) as they entertained revelers with their take on the standards at this neighborhood everybody-knows-your-name type bar.
We ourselves live not far from this hidden-gem-in-the-rough neighborhood, but there was at least one S.F. resident in the house who could testify on behalf of the West Bay. As she shimmied and swayed in front of the band, she proclaimed to all assembled: "All I do is hang out in San Francisco. I didn't know Laurel Lounge was so COOL!"
Stein and his quartet are scheduled to reprise the gig once a month. Keep an eye on the Laurel Lounge website for details.SFist Julie goes out in Oakland's Laurel District for some smokin' jazz.