It’s a bit breezy, but the tent holds back the worst of it, and it’s warm beneath the heaters. Valentine’s decorations swirl in gentle circles. Owner Jennifer Taylor pushes her way out the front door and heads our way, a coffee in each hand, her purple hair pulled back in a ponytail. “This is our coconut haystack,” she places a drink in front of Trudy, “And this is our bacon mocha.”
Trudy takes a sip. “It’s incredible!” she smiles.
“It should be good. I made it.” Jennifer replies, a grin in her bright eyes. “I’m a coffee snob.”
A full page of the menu is devoted to Jennifer’s specialty coffees, from Kahlua Cream Mochas to Espresso Truffles. But it’s just the start of a dining experience at Live Oak Grill in Kelseyville. Since reopening October 15th, they’ve quickly established a loyal customer base. Much of it has to do with owners Jennifer and Jamie’s friendly disposition. They’re relaxed, comfortable, and easy to talk to. And a lot has to do with the quality of the food. Everything’s handmade and done well, with plenty of attention to detail.
Take the biscuits and gravy, for example. It’s possible to get them as a side, but even that is meal-sized. The biscuits come out of the oven three to four inches tall, fluffy and flaky. Jamie ensures they’re perfect. “I cube the butter the night before and freeze it,” he explains, his large hands mimicking the process. “There are only five ingredients, but the key is how you make them.” Once baked, the massive biscuit gets cut in half, making two normal-sized ones, and gets slathered in Live Oak Grill’s fantastic gluten-free gravy.
“I’m so picky with gravy,” Jennifer says as we compliment her. “It has to be perfect. I make it every morning to make sure.”
But the meal doesn’t end with just coffee, biscuits, and gravy. Of course, with such high standards, Live Oak does breakfast well. Trudy ordered the Farmer’s skillet, and it’s stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, then topped with cheddar cheese. It’s perfectly distributed; each bite has a little bit of everything. And it’s a huge portion, so come hungry. And if you still have room after eating all of that, you can finish up your massive side of biscuits and gravy.
But the goodness doesn’t stop at breakfast. Their lunches are incredible as well. I got the Napolitano sandwich and was wowed by the balance of flavors; the thin-sliced beef, resting on the toasted bread, dances with the tang of the marinated onion and tomato. The creaminess of the mozzarella cuts the tart notes and balances the sandwich. Combine that with some garlic fries, and you’ll be full of goodness. I honestly was a little sad when I finished it.
But those are just a few items on the menu—and it’s several pages filled with incredible breakfast and lunch possibilities, begging for you to come and eat them on another visit.
Jennifer makes the place feel like home and chats with the customers while she spotlessly sanitizes the tables. Trudy got a gluten-free pancake as a side and was impressed.
“You have to try this, David,” she says, cutting a bite with her fork. “It tastes light and fluffy, just like a regular pancake.” Jennifer walks by, and Trudy tells her how wonderful it is.
“You know,” Jennifer tells us, a sanitizing cloth in one hand, a paisley tattoo winding its way up her arm. “We’ve got other gluten-free options, too. Anything that’s fried, we do gluten-free. Like onion rings or chicken fingers.” She stops for a second, her eyes thoughtful. “There was once a ten-year-old boy that came in here who couldn’t eat gluten. And after lunch, he hugged me and had tears in his eyes. I thought, ‘Oh no! Did I give him food poisoning?’ But he told me, ‘That’s the first time I’ve not had to eat salad when I go to a restaurant. I had chicken fingers and fries.’ And my heart melted.” Her warm eyes soften as she heads back off to the kitchen to grab another heaping plate of high-quality food.
Trudy and I finish eating and begin to chat with a family across the table. “This place is amazing,” one says, “I came last month and had to bring my family. Now it’s one of our favorites. We’re regulars now.”
Jennifer comes by and takes his order. He’s getting the steak sandwich, his wife the chicken chef salad. Once she’s finished writing it down, she comes by to check on us.
“So,” she says, “How was it?”
“It’s amazing,” I said. “We’ll be back.”
Live Oak Grill has gluten-free and vegetarian options. Seriously, you’ve got to give this place a try.
Live Oak Grill
Facebook Page (for amazing food photos)
5570 Live Oak Drive
Hours: 7AM to 2 PM Thursday through Monday