Fried chicken sandwich at Bakesale Betty’s in Oakland, CA. Basically the best fried chicken sandwich on Earth.
I just realized that I had an entire folder of photos from January 2012 that I had forgotten… which means that I will be playing catch-up again, and a flood of posts will hopefully be coming soon!
I’ll start with the Berkeley places, since I’ve been missing Berkeley a lot these days. There are also food pics from a somewhat random trip to LA.. but you’ll get to read about that later =P
So the first in this catch-up series is about La Note, one of my favorite restaurants. I cannot believe that I discovered this place less than 2 months before I had to leave Berkeley… alas, I was only able to squeeze in two visits before I left, but both were wonderful experiences.
My first visit here was for weekend brunch with SK. We figured that with just the two of us, the wait would not be too long – and I was right; we were seated in about 15 minutes. The restaurant exterior doesn’t look like much, but the inside is adorable: wooden chairs and tables, items written on a chalkboard, flowers on every table… I loved the charm.
I started off with “Le Pagnol”, orange and cranberry juice with Perrier ($2.95) – I don’t normally order beverages at restaurants, but I gave in to the brunch-y atmosphere. From the food menu, we ordered a couple of things to share:
This was so. good. Possibly the best omelette I’ve ever had. (Okay, maybe my most recent memory of an omelette is from the dining hall in college, so that’s not even a valid comparison.) The eggs were incredibly fluffy – perhaps a hint of heavy cream or creme fraiche? The ham and cheese were also spectacular; the Emmenthal was mild, which was perfect for an omelette since anything heavier would have outdone the eggs. It also went well with the ham – overall, a pretty perfect dish. It was served with sourdough toast and seasoned homefries, which were flavorful and had a nice, crispy outside.
This pancake basically reaffirmed my love for creme fraiche. I am normally not a fan of pancakes (waffles are more of my thing), but add some creme fraiche in the batter/ swirled on top? I’m a fan. Creme fraiche will be a permanent item in my fridge from now on…
During my second visit, I tried one of their sandwiches, the Croque Madame (ham, cheese, and sunny-side up egg on pan de mie with bechamel, $11.95) – again, it was awesome. I simply loved their bechamel sauce. Sadly, I did not get a photo, but trust me, it was delicious.
Writing about La Note makes me want to fly back to Berkeley just to eat there again! It is definitely on my list of favorite restaurants in Berkeley. Please go try it if you haven’t yet – and tell me what you ate!
2377 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA
Breakfast & lunch, Mon-Fri 8am-2:3opm
Brunch, Sat-Sun 8am-3pm
Dinner, Thu-Sun 6pm-1opm
A friend initially recommended Fat Apple’s to me as a quick breakfast spot, and I finally had a chance to visit last weekend. It is located in a neighborhood area in North Berkeley, so small that I almost missed it. The atmosphere was strange – sort of like diner food in a fine brunch setting. Or vice versa. The overall feel was just a bit confused.
Waffle was crispy, unlike your typical fluffy waffle. The honey syrup was pretty good – a change from the normal maple syrup, although I do still prefer maple.
Okay, I have had many-a-breakfast/brunch in my life now, and I must say that this place is pretty overpriced. $8.50 for ONE waffle, ONE sausage link, ONE egg? C’mon.
The apple pancake is oven-baked with ‘seasonal apples’, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with creme fraiche. S. and I didn’t really the fact that the apples were so tart! There was almost no sweetness in the entire pancake – add to that the lemon juice and creme fraiche, and you are left with quite a tart taste in your mouth.
Not much to say about the fruit bowl.. there was quite an assortment: raspberries, blueberries, canteloupe, honeydew, grapes.
Overall, I felt that I paid quite a high price for just an okay breakfast. They also have an attached bakery next door with pastries and some cakes, but nothing there appealed to me either. I don’t think I will come back, but you should let me know if you have had a better experience here.
Fat Apple’s Bakery & Restaurant
1346 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Berkeley, CA
I used to pass by this restaurant every day when I went home from campus. Ever since I moved to a different part of town, I almost never come to Telegraph Ave. to eat anymore. But I recently bought a Groupon for this place, so my stepdad and I came to check it out.
The restaurant had a decent atmosphere, lively enough so that you feel comfortable, but also peaceful enough to enjoy your meal and conversation. The downstairs dining area isn’t big, but there is also seating upstairs. The service was friendly, but not super attentive – it was a little difficult to get their attention sometimes.
Onto the menu: I noticed immediately that they had a section just for ‘Nepali Specials’, in addition to all the other standard sections you see on an Indian menu (Lamb dishes, Chicken dishes, Tandoori, Vegetarian, etc.). My stepdad loves lamb and goat, so when he saw ‘goat curry’ (khasi ko masu) under the “Nepali Specials” section of the menu, his decision was immediately set. I took a little bit longer to decide, but I eventually went with chicken tikka masala. We also ordered a whole wheat roti and garlic naan.
Out of the two curry dishes, I preferred the goat curry to the chicken tikka masala. I was pleasantly surprised by how tender the goat meat was cooked, and the curry was super flavorful. The chicken tikka masala paled in comparison – the flavor was just lacking, and the chicken was a bit dry on the inside. I have definitely had better chicken tikka masala at other Indian restaurants in Berkeley.
As for the naan, it was decent but not remarkable. They were full-sized naans, though (unlike Naan ‘N’ Curry…). Overall, I thought that the meal was nice – it still does not compare to Flavors of India, my standing favorite Indian restaurant in Berkeley. But, the goat curry here can definitely make me come back!
Mount Everest Restaurant
2598 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley CA 94704
I had a crazy dim sum craving a while ago, so my stepdad took me to Hong Kong East Ocean (HKEO) in Emeryville for their ‘seaside dim sum’. The restaurant is located right next to the Bay, which means it is a popular choice among Chinese folks for weddings, banquets, and other parties. Also, be prepared for a pretty long wait on a Saturday morning; it took almost 45 minutes before we were seated. I was starving, but thankfully you don’t have to wait long to get your food with dim sum.
Overall, I really enjoyed the meal here. Not only is the atmosphere and service much nicer than most dim sum places, the food was really good. The place is a bit more expensive compared with some of the dim sum in Oakland, but I would say that the food quality is definitely reflected in the price. I will definitely be back when my next dim sum craving hits!
Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant (香港東海海鮮酒家)
3199 Powell St, Emeryville, CA
Dim Sum hours:
Su & holidays: 10am-2:30pm
My quest for a delicious burger in Berkeley has continued, and last month my friends C. and A. took me to Barney’s Gourmet Hamburger – the Shattuck location, which is actually quite close to where I live. Given my slightly disappointing experiences at Oscar’s and BurgerMeister in Berkeley, I was really looking forward to giving Barney’s a try. The Yelp reviews are somewhat mixed, but I have learned not to always trust the reviews (and read food blogs instead, of course).
The concept of Barney’s was pretty clear to me: gourmet hamburgers, sustainable ingredients, etc etc. It was overall just really.. hippie? Berkeleyan? (Are those terms interchangeable?) Anyhow, it was a nice place.
Although the name of the place advertises its burgers, the menu also includes hot dogs, chicken and turkey sandwiches, and salads…
I ordered a Louisiana Burger, which is supposed to be Cajun-style with “Louisiana Cajun dust”, choice of cheese, and the standard toppings (lettuce, tomato, onions):
I was a bit unhappy about the fact that the toppings were served separately because I would rather have the burger arrive assembled, but I suppose that’s a new trend now that I just have to deal with, haha. Also, do you see that tiny container of chipotle sauce for that entire burger? Definitely skimping. But aside from those minor annoyances, the burger itself was actually really nice. The patty was juicy and cooked to medium, my requested temperature.
My two friends ordered hot dogs, and each came with a side. (I also found this extremely odd: since when did hot dogs come with fries, but not burgers?) They ordered curly fries and sweet potato fries, which seemed to be everyone’s favorites.
I didn’t try the hot dogs, but the baguettes looked pretty good. Haha. Also, the fries were very flavorful super crispy! (Sorry to the fans of soggy French fries :P ) In the end, though, I don’t think I would ever pay over $7 for a hot dog and fries, no matter how ‘gourmet’ they may be… especially with Top Dog nearby.
So overall, I really enjoyed the food here, but I think it’s bordering “too gourmet” (read: expensive) for me. So far, though, it has been the best burger I’ve had around here. I’m still open to new suggestions from you guys!
Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers (multiple locations in the Bay Area)
1600 Shattuck Ave, #112, Berkeley CA
Summer Hours (May-Sep):
Winter Hours (Oct-Apr):
I love Southern comfort food. Biscuits and gravy, sausage and hash browns, shrimp and grits… ahh just thinking about it makes me nostalgic. As you can probably tell from my recent posts, I really miss Southern food. Well, I have been reading about this place called “Jodie’s Restaurant” on Yelp since forever, but I had not had a chance to go because they are only open until 3pm. But when S. came to visit last time, he arrived around lunch time on Friday, so I took him directly here from the airport.
Jodie’s is located off of Solano Ave, on Masonic Ave. I was really surprised when I first saw the place because, well, it is tiny. I wish I had gotten a picture of the place, but basically there were six stools around a counter. You could see the entire kitchen. There is a single restroom in the back. Now I can imagine why it gets so crowded!
There is a printed menu as well as different combos posted on the walls. Ordering was pretty easy, though – Jodie was behind the counter, asking us what we liked and giving us many suggestions. (By the way, this man is awesome. He kept talking to us, asking us about what we liked, giving us suggestions for what we should order, etc. We found out that he is originally from Arkansas.) When he heard that I liked grits, he gave us some samples (grits only available on Fridays & Saturdays!) and it was awesome. So my combo consisted of his spicy grits, a sausage patty, grilled English muffin, and egg over easy (although I had asked for it over and well). S ordered pretty much the same thing, but with hash browns instead of the grits (no photo). I forgot the exact price of the orders, but they were around $10 – pretty reasonable since I was quite full by the end of the meal (and couldn’t even finish the grits).
Everything was amazing. As S. put it – “It’s like Waffle House, but better!” (Yes, we love Waffle House.) The grits were definitely my favorite – smooth, buttery, creamy, made ‘spicy’ by adding house-made chili on top. S.’s hash browns had the nice and crispy outer layer; sausage patty was really well-seasoned; English muffin and eggs were tasty though not as memorable as the rest of the meal.
I loved this place so much that I wish I had time to come back every week. In fact, their famous fried chicken is only available on Saturdays, and I hear that the line can get over an hour long. (With only six seats, that’s actually quite imaginable…) If I had time one weekend, I’d definitely stand out here for their fried chicken. Everyone who wonders what Southern food is like – pay Jodie’s a visit!
902 Masonic Ave, Albany, CA 94706
In my post about Looney’s Smokehouse, I mentioned that I had somehow lost my photos of T-Rex BBQ. Well, I guess the electronics fairy somehow restored that folder! Hooray :D
S. and I visited T-Rex BBQ on Memorial Day, so my memory of this place isn’t very fresh. Fortunately, it’s hard for me to forget about food, so I’ll do my best here. Starting with the decor – T-Rex’s storefront and decor are sort of unconventional for a barbecue joint. The interior is very modern and minimalist, with a metal spiral staircase going up to the second floor. The seats were kind of like couches, very cushioned and comfy. It really felt more like an evening lounge rather than a place for smokey, greasy barbecue.
Onto our food…
The ribs were a bit disappointing – nothing like the fall-off-the-bones ribs you can find at Phil’s in San Diego. From the sauce, I could not really tell which regional style this was supposed to be… there wasn’t really a distinct flavor of smoke, or sweetness, or vinegar, or tomatoes. Just sort of.. a ‘generic’ barbecue sauce. Kind of disappointing.
And since everyone around us seemed to be ordering the pulled pork, we decided to try it, too:
The pork was actually pretty decent – juicy and tender. Unfortunately, the sauce was once again disappointing. I believe it was supposed to resemble Carolina-style, vinegar-based barbecue sauce, but it really fell short – too much sweet, not enough sour. The potato salad (same on both entrees) was good, but also nothing spectacular.
Overall, I think the atmosphere of T-Rex was really interesting, but the food was a bit lacking. Maybe my barbecue expectations are too high, but this really didn’t do it for me. If you’ve had a different experience here, let me know – I’d love to hear your thoughts!
1300 10th St
Berkeley, CA 94710
Mon-Thu 11:30 am – 10 pm
Fri 11:30 am – 10:30 pm
Sat 10 am – 10:30 pm
Sun 10 am – 10 pm
My stepfather, who was in the Bay Area for a conference, came to Berkeley to have dinner with me. We were wondering why there were so many people walking towards the CVS Pharmacy (corner of Shattuck & Rose) when we realized that it was the Bay Area food truck gathering, Off the Grid! As we are both food-lovers, we knew that we had to give this a try.
There were about 10 trucks or so, and the lines were ridiculously long at most of them. I forgot to take note of all the trucks that were there, but there were a few taco trucks, a sandwich truck or two, a couple of dessert trucks, and some that I categorize as ‘gourmet food on wheels.’ The lines at most of the trucks were ridiculously long.
Top: The line for Streatery. Bottom: People sitting in the median/ lawn chairs, enjoying the food.
It took us a while to decide what we wanted to try. Finally, we chose Streatery, which served ‘peasant food’, and Liba Fafalel. At Streatery, I was deciding between the pulled pork sandwich or the braised oxtail over grits. My stepdad said, ‘How many times are you going to find a food truck serving oxtail?’ He was right, so oxtail & grits it was. Everyone also seemed to be ordering these root kettle chips, so we also ordered one of those.
The braised oxtail was delicious. As in, melts-in-your-mouth-it’s-so-tender delicious. Very flavorful without being overwhelming. I also loved the carrots and daikon on the side, cooked just enough to be soft, not mushy. The grits were creamy – a bit too creamy for my liking, actually. All the sauce from the oxtail, combined with the cream and butter made the grits too heavy. I liked the crunchy, thinly cut kettle chips a lot, although to be honest, they weren’t all that special. Perhaps because they didn’t go to well with the oxtail dish?
Moving on to the falafel truck. My stepdad already loves falafel, but his eyes really lit up when we saw the self-serve toppings bar. Roasted eggplant, red cabbage, cucumber salad, pickled onions, feta cheese, tomato ginger chutney, hummus, yogurt raita, rosemary peanuts (a MUST-try).. all house-made, all delicious.
We may have overdone it slightly with the toppings. Nonetheless, it was an awesome falafel sandwich. I would line up for this again any day.
Finally, I stopped by Cupkates to get my dessert fix. Unfortunately for you, my dear readers, I gobbled down my delicious S’mores cupcake before I remembered to take a photo :P
Anyway, Off the Grid was a lot of fun. I am really glad that I came across it, and I am even happier to discover that they will be at Berkeley every Wednesday evening! The big food truck gathering (probably three times the size of this) is in Fort Mason on Friday nights – I’d really love to go sometime. (Let me know if you are interested!)
As I wrote in my previous post, real Southern BBQ is rather difficult to find. However, in downtown Berkeley, there is a real Cajun gem – Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen. I first visited this place quite a while ago with my friend D. – and it was quite an educational experience for him (had to explain ‘jambalaya’ and ‘hush puppies’! I can’t believe people haven’t ever had hush puppies. And if you are such a person, please go to Angeline’s and consume a full order of them…now. kthx.)
Anyway, these are photos from my second visit to Angeline’s. I went on a Wednesday evening, and we were seated right away. The restaurant itself isn’t spacious, around 15 small tables – so as you can imagine, the weekend dinner time lines can get pretty long. It is pretty dimly lit inside for ‘atmosphere’, but as I’ve mentioned previously, I prefer more brightly lit restaurants. Personal preference, I suppose.
We ordered one of their specials, alligator sausage. To be honest, I’m not sure what alligator is supposed to taste like (insert ‘taste like chicken!’ comments here) but the sausage was really good – juicy, smoky, just the right amount of salt and spices. The accompanying salad was just all right (I’m not a big fan of arugula), but the Dijon mustard was really good. It added an extra kick to the meat, and it made the arugula taste good, too. Too bad there was only a dollop on the plate.
*Sorry, I forgot to take note of the alligator sausage’s price.
Hush puppies, as I previously mentioned. They are wonderfully crispy and perfectly seasoned. And the honey butter makes it even better.
Entree #1: the Ahi tuna salad. The tuna was fresh and hearty, but I think the seasoning was too salty for me. Butter lettuce is normally my favorite salad green – unfortunately, the lettuce on this plate was not as fresh and crispy as I would have liked. I did enjoy the remoulade dressing, though – reminded me of Thousand Island dressing, but more tangy and refreshing.
Entree #2: wild mushroom jambalaya. I was at first skeptical of ordering a vegetarian jambalaya (jambalaya without sausage!), but it turned out way better than my expectations. It turns out that mushroom pairs very, very well with their ‘sauce piquant’. And although I would have loved for it to be spicier, the flavors were really amazing. (The green onion garnish made it perfect, I think.)
As you can probably imagine, I had a wonderful meal here. The food isn’t cheap (definitely not grad student budget), but I would definitely come here for a special occasion. Till next time!