Shrimp Po-boy, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Creole Pecan Pie
Occupation: Environmental Engineer
Location: Union City
Favorite Restaurant: Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen
Reviewed Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen: Saturday February 2, 2008
I am from the south, and as much as I love the Bay Area, one thing that I sometimes miss is food that reminds me of home. That's why I was thrilled when I discovered Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen in Berkeley. The food servers may be Berkeley quirky, but the food is good ole down home southern goodness. Their particular style of food is New Orleans Cajun, and many of the standards can be found on their menu.
I recently took out of town guest to Angeline's for lunch. Our server was pierced, tattooed, and talkative, but also very attentive to our every need. I ordered my usual: Shrimp Po' Boy ($10.95) and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Rum Caramel Sauce ($5.75). I knew from previous visits that this would be all the food I would be able to eat in one sitting. The shrimp po' boy is loaded with well-seasoned, lightly cornmeal-coated (not smothered in battered) fried shrimp. The shrimp po' boy comes on a hoagie style bun and is dressed with lettuce, pickles, and a homemade dressing. When you pick it up to eat, shrimp fall out of the back end. My mother, who also ordered a shrimp po' boy, just ate hers with a fork and knife. I, on the other hand, ate mine as a sandwich and chased down every escapee shrimp and put it in its proper place (my mouth). My husband ordered the penne pasta with chicken ($11.95) and was very pleased with both the portion size and flavorfulness of the dish. On a previous visit to Angeline's, I ordered their gumbo ($5.95/cup). Unfortunately, it didn't quite meet up to my southern expectations. You could tell it was made from a nicely browned roux, but it just didn't have enough seafood in it to suit me.
If you visit Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen, make sure you leave room for dessert. I always opt for the bananas Foster bread pudding with rum caramel sauce. It takes a while for them to prepare this when you order it, but it is well worth the wait. What you get is a healthy portion of a rich, layered bread pudding that has banana slices between the layers of bread. I know it might sound weird, but the combination of the two southern desserts really works. What makes this dish really scream (a good thing) is the rum caramel sauce. If it weren't for the fact that I was in a restaurant, I would have licked the plate to get every bit of the sauce. My 10-year-old nephew ordered apples slices with caramel sauce. I was expecting the apples to be sautéed, but the dish is simply a plate of uncooked apple slices with a generous portion of caramel sauce for dipping. My nephew deemed the dish delicious, and just right following his meal of southern fried catfish.
In summary, Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen is a southern gem located within walking distance of the Downtown Berkeley Bart station. I appreciate being able to experience the Berkeley vibe, while enjoying well-prepared southern/Cajun standards. I have never felt rushed or have had to wait longer than I thought appropriate for my food to arrive. The service is friendly and efficient and the overall ambiance of the restaurant is casual and relaxed. Because the restaurant is small, even when full the noise level remains low enough to allow comfortable conversation during your meal. All ages will feel comfortable here. When you go, just remember to pace yourself and leave room for dessert.
I recently returned to Angeline's with a group of 5 for a Saturday evening meal. Weekend dinnertime can be quite hectic at Angeline's. Fortunately I had made a reservation the day before, so we did not have to wait long for a table (about10 minutes). But, boy did we have to wait for our food. In fact our wait was so long the manager came over to our table, apologized for the delay and reduced our bill by 50%. We made the best of the long (1 hour +) wait just talking, gawking at my new grandchild, and enjoying the house music, which is a combination of zydeco, blues and jazz. So it wasn't a painful wait, since I was with good company and everybody in the place seemed happy.
By the time our food arrived we were starving. Once again, I ordered the shrimp po-boy ($10.95). Others in my party ordered the buttermilk-fried chicken with mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, and tasso cream gravy ($12.50); shrimp Creole with rice ($14.50); and the fried catfish with potato salad and hush puppies ($12.50). All of the food arrived piping hot and carefully arranged on plain white dishes. Everyone loved their entrees. I tasted all of the entrees and, although I wouldn't trade my shrimp po-boy for any of them, they were all quite tasty, especially the fried chicken.
We concluded our meal with a trio of desserts, which we all shared. We had beignets ($4.50), Creole pecan pie ($5.50), and the bananas Foster bread pudding with rum caramel sauce ($5.75). All of the desserts are out-of-this-world good. The pecan pie is clearly homemade, and I think they stole my recipe (just kidding). You can taste the butter, eggs, and toasted pecans in this pie. It is not overly sweet or gluey like most prepared pecan pies. The beignets were also a big hit, that is, once you dug them out of the mountain of powdered sugar they were buried in. They were hot, light, fluffy, and not the least bit greasy. But be warned, if you plan on ordering the beignet, do not wear all black because you will be wearing powdered sugar after eating these. My favorite dessert is still the bananas Foster bread pudding with rum caramel sauce (see above).
In conclusion, I love this place. I enjoy the food and I enjoy the atmosphere. Just remember this is not a nine-button glove, tiara wearing, fancy food place. This is laid back, southern, homestyle dining at it's best. Enjoy!
Occupation: Director of Marketing
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Playground
Reviewed Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen: Thursday February 7, 2008
My cravings for N’awlins have been met after having dinner at Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen. The service was outstanding, and the food was solid. My city-dwelling friend, whose family is from New Orleans, and I ventured over the Bay Bridge and found rock star parking on busy Shattuck Ave. We immediately sat down at our reserved table and had just about the nicest server I’ve ever met. We instantly liked the vibe of the casual décor and the blues/jazz tunes. We decided to splurge and order a glass of Champagne to start. We then moved onto Louisiana beer, and so far, so good; very much a NoLa place with great music and booze.
Onto the food, we shared an order of the hush puppies, as our server assured us we would love their sweeter version of the Southern side dish. And she was right, they were perfectly fried -- clean, not greasy -- with a soft, fluffy slightly sweet center offset with a sprinkling with salt on the crusty outside. I didn’t even need the honey butter for the hush puppies.
Knowing that Creole/Cajun food is pretty heavy, we opted to order a couple of sides and shared a main dish. The gumbo is available as a cup or bowl, main dish size, and the cup was tasty and smoky, but a bit too "meaty" for my taste. The cup of gumbo was full of sausage and had just one lonely shrimp, and seemed a bit too thin. The house salad sounded promising, a mixed green plate with fig vinaigrette, candied pecans, and raisins (blue cheese optional). I should have had the blue cheese as the salad was overpowered by sugar, but the dressing was lively, and greens very fresh.
The Voo Doo BBQ Shrimp (bbq shrimp in Louisiana means seasoned and grilled), arrived in a gorgeous brown roux-based sauce with white rice. The shrimp were tender, and the sauce was very rich and flavorful, just as you would expect it would be. I’m glad we decided to share the dish because, although I’m not afraid of butter and cream, we did over order and I was full from eating too many hush puppies. (I couldn’t help myself!) After my one bite of the Voo Doo Shrimp, I concentrated on the Brussels sprouts, one of my favorite vegetables. But who knew that if they were sautéed in lots of butter and fresh sage they would take on a whole new meaning of delicious?
Since I was driving, I switched to good old Southern brewed iced tea (unsweetened for me), which was crisp and refreshing even at 9pm.
We didn’t have any room for dessert, even though I was eyeing someone’s mile high plate of beignets underneath a pile of powdered sugar (yum!), and we left in a food coma. If I, a) ever recover from my hush puppy overdose, and b) venture across the bridge, I’ll definitely plan on going back to Angeline’s for the super service and reasonably priced taste of Louisiana.
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Capannina
Reviewed Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen: Saturday January 26, 2008
Expectations and reality sometimes diverge.
Expectation: Restaurant with Creole name in the middle of Berkeley = party!
Reality: Despite its name, location, and largely student clientele, on my Saturday afternoon there, Angeline’s was a pretty quiet, almost sedate place. For the first hour, except the faint sound of the kitchen radio, there was no music. Conversations were grad-student serious, not spring break in the French Quarter. Only the waitress broke the sober atmosphere.
The Waitress. I liked her. She's young and smart and quirky and from Dallas. She knows the menu, and she doesn't mind sharing her opinions. She also has between four and five, depending on how you count doubles, visible silver studs on and around her face.
I kinda like studs. What I like about them is, unlike tattoos, when you outgrow them, you take ‘em out, and whoosh, you're ready for the next stage of life. Tattoos: pretty much forever. But I have something of an aversion to studs and plugs and ear stretchers and nose rings and eyebrow pins on food handlers. And though I make something of an exception for young, smart, quirky, opinionated waitresses, it’s not a trend I want to encourage. We’re very close to a yuck factor here — close enough that I changed butchers when mine turned up one day with too much facial steel. End of skin-jewelry-and-food-handling sermon. Next one’s on catfish.
So Angeline’s was a bit quieter than expected. But for me, a place lives or dies not on the color of the feature wall (in this case, exposed brick) or what’s on it (a Currier & Ives view of old New Orleans and a pink gator made of bottle caps) or the party level (and at two, zydeco music started playing, warming the spirit), but on what it does to the inside of my mouth. And here Angeline’s gets high, high grades. Let’s start, as I did, with the Oysters Bordelaise. For $10.95, out came a plate-full of succulent, just barely cooked bivalves, roughly coated with a light, crispy Southern batter. Couldn't have been better. Though I resolved not to eat the whole thing, I ate the whole thing. And half my wife’s sweet 'n' tangy Creole-style BBQ shrimp. Both dishes were so good, I made a major ordering mistake. Which brings us to our second sermon, The Catfish.
Outside of the Deep South, I never, ever order catfish. It’s an ugly, bottom-feeding scavenger, and don’t go telling me now that it’s being farm-raised, how chefs are doing such wonderful things with it. They aren't. Oh, somewhere south of Atlanta, they've got some Dixie mojo going that makes it palatable, but that aside, this is a fish to avoid, a fish put on Earth to clean fish tanks and river bottoms. Even the talented chef at Angeline’s couldn't make it better than bad. To me. If you're a catfish lover, god rest your soul, I'm sure it’s fine. My fault — I broke Older’s Law #147: Don’t Eat Bottom Feeders.
But the desserts made me forget the fish. Angeline’s beignets were classic N’awlins, and they came in such abundance, half went home with us. The pecan pie, well, that was even better. By the final bite, I was ready to dance. With or without the zydeco.