Monday, October 11, 2010

Berkeley catch-up: Bakesale Betty, Ippuku, Revival, Philz Coffee

Revival's special bourbon/wine cocktail

It's always fun to spend a few days in the Bay Area, where I usually stay with my sister in Berkeley. She's a great sport about taking me around to the hot newer places. Here's what we tried:
Revival Bar and Kitchen is a retro-themed farm-to-table restaurant and cocktail bar on Shattuck in downtown Berkeley. While that area's not usually where the best food is found, the situation seems to be improving with several new places just steps away from the Bart station. The cocktails were a bit hit and miss, but I enjoyed my special concoction of bourbon, egg white and red wine reduction.

Ironing boards provide narrow lunching spots at Bakesale Betty

Bakesale Betty is a bakery/sandwich shop with two Oakland locations that makes an astoundingly crispy, spicy, crunchy, greasy, filling fried chicken sandwich with jalapeno slaw. We both went home and passed out for an hour after managing to finish off one each.
Bakesale Betty's fried chicken sandwich is an awesome beast

 Open only for lunch or breakfast and lunch depending on the location, Bakesale Betty does only a few things exceedingly well, even if you do have to eat on the sidewalk on festively painted ironing boards.

Shochu on draft at Ippuku
Also in Downtown Berkeley, Ippuku takes izakaya to another level. Despite Michael Bauer's SF Chronicle review, you don't have to enjoy chicken tartare to fully appreciate it, there are plenty of other intriguing small plates. But if you're brave enough, it's perfectly safe, as everything is carefully sourced with choices like grass-fed beef tongue.
Bacon-wrapped mochi proves that just about anything can, and should, be wrapped in bacon
There's nothing quite like Ippuku in L.A. -- designed by a Zen Buddhist priest and specializing in shochu and yakitori skewers, it feels like you're transported to a small, secret inn somewhere in the wilds of Japan, where rough-hewn pottery dishes hold delicate stacks of roasted eggplant or skewers of meaty ground chicken or careful piles of house-made pickles.
sesame soft serve with red bean paste and tempura crunchies

There's 50 kinds of shochu, including a dynamite soba one, and barley varieties that taste like watered-down scotch. For dessert, try Straus creamery soft-serve ice cream in sesame flavor with bean paste, or matcha affogato.

Philz coffee brews each cup in a filter basket
At times it seems you need a graduate level course in coffeeology just to order some joe in the Bay Area. At Philz, where I gather the prevailing philosophy runs towards lighter roasts, you choose from more than 20 varieties divided into dark, medium and light roasts, then explain how you like it and the barista brews one cup at a time in a filter cup. I tried a cup of Jacob's Wonderbar brew -- it was nice, but not transcendent like the cup of Four Barrel I had in San Francisco.

From ultra-customized coffee to sustainable izakaya, there's always something new in the Bay Area, and Berkeley as always merits an eating tour of its own.


Mlle Paradis said...

i think they serve four barrel at the lazy ox, no? the bay area: so much to eat, so little time!

DailyChef said...

I love Philz :) And I just tried four barrel the other day!

Mark said...

Thats awesome I bet Kat Odell at LA CANVAS loves this

FIXA said...

I would like to promote my up and coming catering business on you lovely interesting blog.

Continue with your blog!

Free Recipes Online said...

oh that chicken sandwich look so good I want to bite into it. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Food GPS said...

I really wanted to try Bakesale Betty's fried chicken sandwich over the summer but never got over the bridge. It looks really good. Next time, try the Tuesday fried chicken sandwich at Naked Lunch in San Francisco, which uses dark meat yardbird.

That soft serve Straus looks great too.