On our list of size food challenges in California we have Fentons Creamery for the banana split sundae with three gigantic scoops of hand-made, small batch ice cream and toppings. We decided to come because we wanted to try the sundae, not for the sake of the challenge, but to try the world-famous ice cream and toppings – Fentons claims invention rights to the Rocky Road flavor of ice cream. Since 1894 Fentons has been dedicated to crafting the highest quality desserts, and now over a century later there are two restaurants (here in Oakland; one by the Nut Tree) and a parlor inside the Oakland Airport serving up tasty treats.
Our server Sam was extremely accommodating and friendly! She invited us to take pictures of the open kitchen and the ice cream counter, to see the hardworking crew seamlessly put out dish after delicious dish.
There is a Reuben sandwich here with your choice of pastrami, corned beef, or turkey. A Reuben is typically August’s litmus test for a restaurant, but tonight the Sassy Sliders special immediately caught her attention and won out. Three mini charbroiled burgers of Durham Ranch beef with American cheese and Fentons’ secret sauce were just enough food; she barely made a dent in the seasoned curly fries that came with it. However, if you know you’d be hungrier than that, it’s only $2.25 for each extra slider. With a great char and a secret sauce of Thousand Island with a little spicy kick, just by themselves the sliders were tasty. Lettuce, tomato, and crispy dill pickle slices were on the side, as was the “sassy BBQ ranch sauce,” an excellent dip with the perfect balance of smoky tanginess from the barbecue and herby tanginess of the ranch.
Zach’s Fentons Club was a triple-decker delight, just like the menu said! It had sliced turkey breast, ham, bacon, tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise between slices of grilled French sourdough bread (unless noted on the menu [or you request something special], all sandwiches come on such bread). Tender turkey, smoky ham, crispy lean bacon, ripe sweet tomato, fresh crisp lettuce, and superior and buttery bread layered for a club like few others. Normally sandwiches are accompanied fruit garnish and a pile of potato chips, but for a small charge he swapped out the pile for onion rings.
The only way you can take on this challenge is if you find a special coupon in the newspaper. This is to add another layer of the challenge, so that those who think they are worthy must prove it by going on a quest before even coming to slay the dragon, so to speak. Giant scoops of strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate ice cream are piled onto a split banana, then each scoop has its own specific topping: strawberry for strawberry and hot fudge for chocolate, of course, and then pineapple for the vanilla. Finish it off with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry, and you’re facing a whopper that, in order win the challenge, must be eaten within 15 minutes by one person only, only with use of a spoon (no finger licking), and every morsel must be consumed (no drips or drops left on the bowl or serving plate). Oh, and vomiting equals immediate disqualification. Before you get to that point, we would recommend that you stop and get a to-go container specifically for your ice cream. Even getting a regular-sized sundae you may want a container to take it home, portions are that big here.
Besides making wonderful meals and desserts, Fentons supports the community in so many ways. Each month, a local non-profit organization is selected to receive proceeds from the sales of “Myrtle’s Creation Sundae,” the monthly special touted by the restaurant’s bovine mascot. This month it’s the “Zoo to You” which is topped with a house-made animal sugar cookie. Twenty-five percent of the sales of these sundaes go to the Oakland Zoo‘s “Zoo-to-Community” Fund, which provides outdoor education and experiences with science literacy for at-risk and underpriviledged elementary school children of the East Bay. To coincide, this coming April 21 at 1 pm the Zoo Mobile of the Oakland Zoo will be at the Fentons Creamery patio with animals, artifacts, and an educational specialist! We feel inspired to get a sundae here once a month so that we can contribute, even in a small way, to the betterment of our new community here in Oakland.