Tag Archives: 900 Grayson

Best burgers in the East Bay: Nosh readers call it

Burgers from TrueBurger on Grand Avenue in Oakland, which got the most votes among Noshers
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A while ago (OK, three months ago — what can we say? We got busy reporting other news), we asked readers who makes the best burger in the East Bay? The answers came in thick and fast: juicy grass-fed beef burgers oozing with cheese and bacon, nutritious veggie sliders accompanied by garlicky french fries, gourmet gluten-free or straight-up regular — there was no shortage of favorites.

The votes were scattered over nearly 50 burger purveyors, and there was little wiggle-room between the total tallies for each restaurant, which just goes to show how spoilt we are in the East Bay when it comes to that all-important decision: where to grab a superior burger right now.

So, with the understanding that this was a totally unscientific poll, and that everyone was a winner, we give you the most popular burgers as voted by Noshers — and we’ve also created a nifty interactive map with details about each spot, so you know where to head to try local favorites. … Continue reading »

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Nosh Talk: Hugh Groman, Phil’s Sliders

Hugh Groman
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Nosh Talk is a regular Q&A with an East Bay chef, restaurateur or food artisan, published on Berkeleyside Nosh, in which we snoop for inside intelligence…

What is always in your refrigerator?
Eggs, aged cheddar, orange juice, cranberry juice, and produce from our weekly Full Belly Farms delivery. But, honestly, there wouldn’t be any food in there at all if it weren’t for my husband. I work all the time and would probably just eat out if left to my own devices.

What do you cook up for a late night snack?
I love making a shake of frozen bananas, milk and unsweetened cocoa. It is a completely satisfying and guilt-free dessert.

Where/what do you eat on your day off?
I love to eat at Tacubaya on Fourth Street, or Venus in downton for a delicious brunch or dinner, or Cha Am for yummy Thai food, or Café Rouge, or Kitchen 388 in Oakland, or 900 Grayson for lunch. I love Gather. I love Kirin Chinese on Solano or Shen Hua on College. The house-fried wontons at both of those places are incredible. We just tried Potala which has vegan Tibetan food and it was delicious. Fentons is a lifelong family favorite. … Continue reading »

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Zagat San Francisco names 4 East Bay winners

The Cheese Board Collective which Zagat readers voted best in the Bay Area for its pizza. Photo: Christina Diaz
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Three Berkeley restaurants have been singled out for being the best in the Bay Area for particular types of cuisine. West Berkeley eatery 900 Grayson took the vote for “best burger,” the Cheese Board Collective in the Gourmet Ghetto took the prize for “best pizza,” and Ajanta on Solano Avenue was named best Indian restaurant.

The plaudits come in a newly released Zagat San Francisco Restaurants Survey which accompanies the publication of the restaurant guide’s 2013 Bay Area edition. The survey covers 1,636 restaurants based on the combined opinions of 15,502 diners.

Only one other East Bay restaurant won for a type of cuisine: Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen for Cajun/Creole/Soul food. Also worthy of note: when Berkeleyside polled its readers for their choice of “best pizza in Berkeley,” Gioia Pizzeria narrowly pipped the Cheese Board to the number one post. … Continue reading »

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900 Grayson: American food with flair in west Berkeley

The restaurant storefront. Photo: Courtesy of Yelp
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From the start, restaurant goers and food critics dug the low-key, west Berkeley breakfast, lunch, and brunch spot serving stylish takes on classic American fare with quirky names like The Demon Lover (spicy fried chicken and buttermilk waffles).

900 Grayson, an unassuming corner restaurant with a maple pink facade, quietly attracted a following for its menu of comfort cuisine made from quality ingredients –  like the natural beef burger with applewood smoked bacon and house-made BBQ sauce — as well as its fresh seasonal fare with Asian undertones like the Ladyboy (a Vietnamese inspired dish with lemongrass prawns, mango, daikon, rice noodles, toasted rice powder and micro greens).

Not long after it opened six years ago, though, the business started by four partners hit some snags. First came the fast departure of chef-partner Sophina Uong (now behind the stoves at Oakland’s Pican). Eighteen months later her former life and work partner, Josh Pearl, followed suit.

A legal dispute over money followed:  The two ex-partners were pitted against brothers Anthony and Christopher Saulnier, who stayed on to run the restaurant. Add to that wranglings with Berkeley’s zoning department over dinner hours — the city had concerns about noise and congestion from the restaurant, which is in a residential area that fronts busy Seventh Street — and the restaurateurs had their hands full.

But the Saulniers weathered that early rough patch and now boast a loyal breakfast crowd, which mostly hails from Berkeley, and a steady lunch-time clientele, thanks largely to nearby businesses such as Pixar, Bayer, Novartis, and a host of smaller companies. These days the kitchen is run by committee, with two chefs, Eric Larson and Nick Spelletich, in charge. Larson was featured serving up 900 Grayson grub on an episode of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” show for the Food Network.

Berkeleyside spoke with co-owner Chris Saulnier, 43, after the lunch rush last week. … Continue reading »

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Local 123 finds its feet in West Berkeley and beyond

A look inside Local 123.
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Frieda Hoffman, who runs Local 123, a popular west Berkeley café, trained to be a social worker and wanted to work in the addiction field. She spent six years in Berlin with her then-husband, a German, but had difficulty landing work in her area. So when an American friend decided to open up a café there, and became quickly overwhelmed, she jumped in to lend a hand and discovered that she rather liked the barista business and wound up managing the java joint.

Hoffman and her husband returned to the States in 2008 and toyed with the idea of running an eco inn along the coast, but soon realized that was cost prohibitive. So then they started scouting for café locations – and found the storefront on San Pablo Avenue, formerly a video rental store and a beauty supply shop. (During the build-out, much of which the Local 123 crew  did themselves, they discovered placenta hair gel, among other artifacts.)

Her marriage didn’t survive the cross-Atlantic shift but Hoffman decided to soldier on with opening the café – the business was a welcome distraction – and her sister-in-law Katy Wafle, stepped in to help. Hoffman lived above the café until the summer of 2009, when she decided she was done waking up to the sound of coffee grinders. … Continue reading »

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Bauman College celebrates new Berkeley campus

Bauman College's new state-of-the art kitchen. Photo: Sarah Henry
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Tonight the whole foods people at Bauman College get to show off their state-of-the art kitchens with Vulcan ranges (and, presumably, their holistic culinary chops) at the grand opening of their new location on University Avenue near San Pablo.

Visitors can check out the elegant remodel–nod to local architect Charles Kahn–of the 1949 building which once housed the Mobilized Women of Berkeley. (The Mobilized Women’s Cooperative, formed in 1917 in response to World War I, was founded on the principles of service to country and community.) Recently earmarked as a landmark site due to its architectural design and historic status, the building features vaulted ceilings, concrete grid form panels, a unique u-shape design and translucent glass blocks in a diamond pattern.

Why move? The non-profit nutrition and culinary arts program, formerly housed in a rabbit warren of a building on Grayson Street in West Berkeley, simply outgrew the space, said Sitarani Brian, the culinary program director of Bauman’s Berkeley campus, which shifted to its new digs in March.

The natural chef instructor, who specializes in vegetarian, vegan, and raw cuisines, as well as macrobiotic, ayurvedic, and gluten-free diets, grew up in the suburban mid-West, one of seven kids whose parents loved all things Indian (hence Brian’s given name and her vegetarian upbringing.)

Brian, 28, has a marketing background but left corporate America to study at The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City before landing a job at the fancy raw food restaurant Pure Food and Wine. Three years ago she relocated to San Francisco with her ethically omnivorous husband to open her own personal chef business. Her first client, ironically enough, was a chef who was too busy with her own catering business to fix her own food.

Brian missed working in a communal setting, so jumped at the chance to come on board as a natural chef instructor for Bauman College. We spoke yesterday on the eve of preparations for the opening. … Continue reading »

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The culinary couple behind Berkeley’s Corso and Rivoli

Corso couple
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This is a story about a little neighborhood restaurant opened in 1994 — a shared vision between two partners in work and life, who built an acclaimed destination dining space serving up fresh, homey food with complex flavors and nods to Italian, French, and Californian cuisine.

And it’s the story of how this culinary couple followed the success of their first eatery by opening an authentic Tuscan trattoria nearby three years ago. That place proved popular with critics and customers too.

This is also the story of the enduring power of friendship and love. Friendship, respect, trust, admiration, and love in the face of the demise of a long-term marriage, where two people who see the essential good in each other decide it’s a bad idea to stay together. And so they go their separate ways personally but manage, despite the initial challenges of seeing the ex every single day, to keep working together as partners in a labor of love. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Kitchen on Fire booms during economic bust

Dishes prepared by Kitchen of Fire. Photo: KoF
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The two self-professed clowns behind Kitchen on Fire, who like to ham it up with kitchen utensils for the camera, are quite serious about their mission: they want to teach people to cook real food for themselves.

Chefs MikeC and Olivier Said launched the Gourmet Ghetto business in 2005, but it really took off during the economic downturn. That’s when a lot of folks realized they couldn’t afford to eat out as often as they wanted, and they set out to learn how to D.I.Y. dinner at home.

For those who lost their jobs, there was both a hunger and a need to learn their way around a kitchen; some hoped they might pick up skills that could lead to employment, and a cooking school seemed like a good place to do that.

Kitchen on Fire classes now regularly sell out. To meet the growing demand, this summer the kitchen classroom will expand to a second location in West Berkeley, which boasts an even bigger space.

The new kitchen will be housed in the Rocket Restaurant Resource supply store, where, this Sunday, Bay Wolf’s Louis Le Gassic and Corso Trattoria‘s Rodrigo Da Silva will battle it out in an Iron Chef culinary contest, part of a fundraiser for Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner.

Earlier this week I met with MikeC, 33, who lives in Central Berkeley, to find out what’s cooking at Kitchen on Fire. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Anchalee Natasiri

Natasiri use
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Each Friday in this space food writer Sarah Henry asks a well-known, up-and-coming, or under-the-radar food aficionado about their favorite tastes in town, preferred food purveyors and other local culinary gems worth sharing.

Anchalee Natasiri co-owns Anchalee Thai Cuisine restaurant with her chef-husband Chuck Natasiri. Since late 2007, the couple has served up classic Thai dishes on Dwight Avenue in West Berkeley.

Anchalee, 41, born and raised in Thailand, grew up in Tak Province in the north, … Continue reading »

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