Fenton’s Creamery offers the largest portions of some of the best ice cream in the entire East Bay. A local tradition, Fenton’s has been around for almost a century, and though the location and the menu has changed, according to my grandparents, who would order a plate of whipped cream and cherries when they visited it while they were going to school at U.C. Berkeley, the quality is as high as ever.
Fenton’s is located on the relatively ritzy strip that is Piedmont Avenue in North Oakland. Piedmont branches out of and runs parallel to Broadway in the mid-30s and runs from West MacArthur Boulevard north through Pleasant Valley (which becomes 51st St. at Broadway). Fenton’s itself is a block or two south of Pleasant Valley.
Though Fenton’s serves the standard Americana fare (burgers, sandwiches, etc.) as well, the real reason to go is for their sundaes. Their Sundaes for the Adventurous are all four or five of the hugest scoops of ice cream you have ever seen, drowning in a range of toppings. The only standard sundae in this part of the menu is their largest item, a banana split that I’ve seen overcome even the most gluttonous ice cream epicure. Sundaes for the Sophisticate are the fountain favorites you’ve come to know and love (e.g. Black and Tan, Black and White) in huge portions and done to perfection. I would recommend their Sundaes for the Sedate for a first-timer, although two hungry beginners might be able to tackle (in tandem) one of the larger offerings. There is always a weekly special, sometimes related to an upcoming holiday or events in the news, sometimes more abstract. Some of the specials have been good, others have been weird.
Fenton’s offers its made-on-the-premises ice cream to go to, and even in the dead of winter I have seen long lines of people waiting for it. I actually haven’t been to Fenton’s since the summer of 2001, when I moved out of Oakland, and now I’ll have to wait at least a few months more.
Fenton’s fell victim to arson in late November 2001, when three employees upset about the sizes of their bonuses set fire to the place and tried to steal the jukebox. The creamery was destroyed and the restaurant has been closed since. It is unknown how soon Fenton’s will re-open, but it certain to need patronage to rebuild its customer base and level of activity when it does. So if you are in the Oakland area any time soon, see if it’s reopened yet, and if it is, check it out.