Tag Archive for lunch

Farm Burger

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Christina of East Bay Dish invited me out on this media lunch to try Farm Burger in Berkeley. Obligatory disclaimer: Our meal was comped. Non-obligatory disclaimer: Our eyes may have been bigger than our stomachs as we pretty much tried two or more items from every section of their menu.

Farm Burger is a small hamburger chain, and the Berkeley store is their first on the West Coast. They are committed to using grass-fed beef, sourcing it from BN Ranch and Stemple Creek Ranch for this location. They also grind their patty meat in-house daily. Local farms provide their veggies.

The rest of Farm Burger’s stores are in the South, and those Southern roots are just as present on their Berkeley menu, with side offerings like collard greens and boiled peanuts. I don’t think this joint is going to have any problem keeping busy—it was swamped midday on a Saturday, and it’s been open since November in West Berkeley’s Gilman District development, which looked to be quite popular! The crowd only started to thin around 3 pm.

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In addition to sides and burgers, there are salads, several varieties of fries, shakes, and boozy and standard floats.

The Young's Chocolate Stout float

The Young’s Chocolate Stout float

I could taste the quality of their ingredients, always a plus, but a few dishes rested too firmly on those all-natural laurels—in other words, they were bland. The fried chicken livers, in particular, are a dish I would not order again.

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I’m not a fan of liver in general, but the usual reasons why were not on display here: the taste of iron and the silky texture of pâtés. These livers were dry, which is better than silky for me but not by much. The breading was rubbery and barely salted, if at all. That salt must have abandoned ship for the cheesy grits.

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Those weren’t up to snuff for me, either, but maybe I’m spoiled from all those fluffy, stone-ground grits served up by the chefs of North Carolina’s Research Triangle. These were more, well, gritty. Did I mention the salt? Waaay too much of that for me. But the cheese flavor was robust, and when I bit into a warm, gushy tomato at the same time as the grits, it was more appealing overall.

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Sweet Bar Bakery

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There’s a lot that I love about Sweet Bar Bakery: their commitment to locally sourced, fair trade, and cage-free ingredients; that they know the difference between a latte and a cortado; that you can usually get a seat without too much of a hassle on a weekday. But I’m befuddled by how their baked goods, with bakery as part of their name, have continually been dry.

Case in point, the “whoop-ass” mocha pie.

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Obviously meant as a play on a whoopie pie, I was so disappointed to bite into dry, dry chocolate cake rather than the moist sponge cake I’ve come to expect from that particular sweet sandwich. Perhaps the bitterness of the coffee flavor affected my perception? The middle frosting layer was rich, but more like a dense, hardened frosting than the fluffy ones I associate with whoopie pies. It was also a skimpy helping of frosting.

Luckily, the day I had the “whoop-ass” pie, I also had an amazing cortado, thus sparing the café from my sour impression.

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That cortado is on the top. The one on the bottom is from my second trip to Sweet Bar Bakery. Slightly less impressive than the first, it still did the job of giving me the milk to espresso ratio I most prefer. The first was a touch sweeter and more beautifully layered. I will continue to order cortados with confidence at Sweet Bar Bakery.

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Snappy’s Cafe

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Snappy’s Café is a prime example of what I consider a cozy neighborhood coffee shop. Local art rotates on a regular basis. It’s quite small, with seating for roughly 15 people that consists of tables, two bars, and mismatched, cushion-covered benches. There are a few outlets available, and wireless is free. I’ve only seen it busy during the afterschool crowd in the late afternoon.

Of course, the counter full of turtle collectibles and fridge topped with stuffed turtles adds an adorable amount of whimsy.

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I don’t know how they fit in musicians, but Snappy’s Café also hosts music nights a few times a month including sing-alongs! The only drawback in atmosphere is that it can get quite stuffy in summer heat.

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