East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Escaping burgertory

That Guy From Incubus organised dinner at the downtown outlet of Barney's, the Bay burger minichain, on Friday, and the regular crew turned out to warm up before an evening of Wiiing. At my usual Barney's on College, the meat is bland (too lean for a start) and requires a kick, so my standard order is the Caribbean. I requested the beef version of this medium-rare, and it came out much closer to this degree of doneness than I'm used to at Barney's: there was a lot of pink in it, though there still wasn't much taste, and the lashings of jerk sauce can only go so far in compensating for this. Fortunately the fried stuff, which is the real reason to go to Barney's, can go further.

On Sunday I headed to Cafe Rouge, a (literal) meat market and restaurant famed for their quality red meats. Here, when I bit into my burger, blood spurted out: ah, bliss. The beef actually tasted like beef, though it was compromised by a weirdly stiff bun. Burger with cheddar, onions, fries and beer set me back $20.50 all up, a lot, sure, but only a couple of bucks more than a similar order at Barney's, which really makes Barney's seem overpriced.

As often happens, I got a little obsessive, and went to 900 Grayson today, intending to see how their burger matched up. But something else on the menu tempted me more: the Demon Lover. Like the rest of the menu, it has a cutesy name but is anything but: buttermilk fried chicken with gravy on a waffle. Nicely spicy with excellent quality meat (Fulton Valley), it's the tastiest non-Chinese food I've eaten in the last couple of weeks. Of the other ranking fried chicken places around here, one is in a borderline sketchy area (Nellie's) and the other has other dishes I really really like that are much cheaper (Pizzaiolo), so hopefully I can prevent a fried chicken obsession from developing.

Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers
1600 Shattuck @ Cedar, Berkeley

Cafe Rouge
1782 4th St @ Virginia, Berkeley

900 Grayson
900 Grayson (duh) @ 7th St, Berkeley

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