Well, apparently I should have been eating with you. That said, I ate Razan’s Organic Kitchen one night near UC Berkeley and was pleasantly surprised. Then hopped next door for Cloud Atlas for a relaxing evening in a cold dark room full of strangers.
Though I am new to the Drupal community, I am not new to the tech industry. This past weekend, I attended my first DrupalCamp, and I feel lucky my first Drupal event was the Bay Area Drupal Camp, otherwise known as BADCamp. As a web nerd who regularly attends meetups and conferences here in Texas, I felt right at home at BADCamp.
But what really, really made the camp even better was the food. Berkeley is a foodie’s paradise! As I was researching accommodation options near the camp, I kept on reading references about the “Gourmet Ghetto.”
WTF is the Gourmet Ghetto? Why would I want to stay in the ghetto anyways?
As I was able to ascertain from Wikipedia (thank you Wikipedia), North Berkeley is known as the Gourmet Ghetto due to the amount of fine eating establishments. If you’re familiar with the “farm-to-table” movement, you can thank restaurants like Chez Pannise for popularizing the adoption of this ideology to other establishments. Chez Pannise is based right in the heart of the Gourmet Ghetto.
Chez Pannise, however, is super hard to get into; so I did some research and narrowed down a few places I wanted to try: The Cheese Board Pizza Cooperative, Barney’s Gourmet Burgers, and Gregoire’s made my list, and they were all very nomtastic.
Cheese Board Pizza Cooperative
The pizza I had at Cheese Board is by far one of the best pies I’ve ever had. Beware, however, as the menu changes daily, so your experience may differ from mine.
I had a wonderful slice of mozzarella, feta, tomato, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest and cilantro. My first reaction was to think that in California, everything has cilantro on it and sigh. But the flavors worked extremely well! The lemon zest really highlights the tartness of the tomato, but just when you thought you’ve had too much citrus, you bite into some creamy, crumbly feta, bringing your bite into balance.
And so I ate a half pizza. By myself. In one sitting.
The next day, I went back for more (hi, I’m Cecy and I’m addicted to pizza). The pizza of the day was mozzarella, pesto and zucchini. It was good, but not as good as the wonderful pie I had the day before — I want lemon zest and cilantro in my pizza from now on until forever!
Barney’s Gourmet Burgers
I came here because… burgers. Burgers should be reason enough. I love burgers. If you write “Gourmet” before the word “Burger,” you better believe I will be there with bells on. And some ketchup.
I had the Baja burger, which was a simple concoction of beef, cheddar, avocado and mounds of bacon (with salsa on the side). The burger was sufficiently yummy, but nothing to phone home about. I’ve had better so-called “Gourmet” burgers. I must admit, the bacon was delicious and the best part of the dish; but the burger beef was a little on the dry side. I felt the burger needed a little extra “umph.” However, if you’re looking for a decent burger, Barney’s is a solid option. They do have a very substantial menu for you to choose from. Barney’s is also a California chain, so if you’re in San Francisco, Oakland, LA or Sherman Oaks, you can totally go try it, if you haven’t already.
Grégoire’s was the pièce of résistance. Located in a small converted house, Gregoire’s serves up affordable gourmet food. And boy is it true! The menu changes every month to stay fresh and relevant (and use only ingredients that are in-season) and the portions, unlike most gourmet eateries, are quite generous for the quality and price.
Grégoire’s is located in a small establishment, and it is meant to be more of a take-out spot, so seating is limited. There are 2 stools at the bar inside, and 4 picnic tables outside (2 picnic tables if you’re there at night, the other 2 are in the dark, so they’re unusable at night-time). If you plan on taking a visit, you should plan to go in the daytime and find a spot to eat.
Now, onto the food. I had the Spicy Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Ricotta on papparadelle pasta.
No offense to Grégoire, but by looking at this photo (it was dark in there!), it looks like someone threw up on my plate. Let me assure you, the food did not taste like barf. The meatballs were exquisite! They were soft and juicy, they just melted in your mouth. Paired with the creamy tomato and ricotta sauce, over the pasta, it was a party of cheesy delight in my mouth.
What has made Grégoire’s infamous is their potato puffs: cheesy balls of potato, deep fried to golden perfection, served with a garlic aioli sauce.
Being a foodie, I ordered the potato puffs and the entrée, which was way too much food for one person to eat. So if you go, definitely try the potato puffs, but either save some for later, or think about sharing them with a friend.
Unfortunately, I did not get to try every place I wanted to try, but I guess that means there is more to try next year! You can see what other places made my list of places to try on this Pinterest board.