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Jan 17, 2007 11:11 PM

Elmwood vs. the rest - Rockridge, Berkeley downtown, the newly alive Temescal...

For me, Elmwood is the closest commercial strip. I like it fine.

However, I don't eat here often. The restaurants are charming, but I don't find much value. Not cheap enough, not excellent enough.

There is that corner space waiting to be leased, Ashby and College. Someone told me it's waiting for a cobbler or a record store. Big enough for a restaurant?

Just felt like ranting. Any thoughts?

While we are at it, best picks in Elmwood?

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      1. re: grocerytrekker

        True, it's not the greatest, but it's good _value_. For what you pay, you get very generous portions of good quality, authentic southern Italian. That's more than you can say for most Italian places in Berkeley.

        1. re: grocerytrekker

          I also really enjoy Trattoria La Siciliana. But, I only go when I have three hours to dedicate to the meal - the wait for a table and food can be long (and I think that has lead to many of the negative reports). Its great Sicilian for Berkeley, and I like how you order family style.

      2. Well, it's not exactly Elmwood, but we just had a chowdown at Ethiopia, which is on Telegraph just off Ashby, and it was delicious and a good value.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Can I rest my case? No excellent restaurants on the entire Elmwood strip? It's very sad indeed.

          Ah, Telegraph. You have to count on that street for something exciting to happen. The only Ethiopian I had (can't remember the name) was in Washington, D.C. and it was all right, not rave-worthy. Mom didn't like it, and it probably influenced how I felt. I will give this place a shot.

        2. The only excellent place is Ici, the ice cream shop. And something I heard there is indicative why the Elmwood is so mediocre. They were refused permission to put tables in the shop to sit at while you eat your ice cream because according to the Berkeley Planning Department the Elmwood has too many (or the limit) of "sit down eateries." Take out is apparently ok still. So the neighborhood doesn't have a chance of something excellent coming in unless one of the mediocre places sells out.
          This is deeply frustrating to me.

          For what it is worth I wish to extend my fervent wish that BiRite market from San Francisco would please buy out the Derby market and create a BiRite here. I wonder if that could catalyze a shift?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Armoise

            Ici now has a bench. It beats sitting on the floor.

            1. re: Armoise

              Ici is only excellent in comparison to the rest of the stuff on the strip.

            2. i love shen yua (sp?) for chinese... so fresh, good and the price is comparable to other places.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Mel

                Shen Hua. It's a nice place to take non-food-people. It's okay, but I would probably be fried by chowhounds if I took them there.

                Now that our expectations are waaaaay low, any other places worth a mention?

                1. re: grocerytrekker

                  Shen Hua is definitely hit or miss. All their soups are usually dynamite. The whole fish is also very good. As are some of the vegi dishes. If you know what to order there - even "food-people" can have a very good experience.

                  1. re: A Amore

                    yeah the food doesn't suck and I once had some rather boring but delicate and expertly-prepared noodles. however, on two or three occasions the service has been so ridiculously abhorrent that I don't think I can go back, and I don't expect much in this department...

                    1. re: A Amore

                      I've had many hit or miss dishes at Shen Hua, but one that is always amazing and unlike any I've had elsewhere is Andy's Chicken. It's a chicken dish with fermented black bean sauce. (I've come across fermented black bean sauce elsewhere but it's never as good as here.)

                      1. re: katya

                        that is one of my favorites and why I did recommend it because this dish in particular is great and I haven't come acress it anywhere else.

                2. I like Holy Land. Can't understand how the awful La Mediterranee stays in business.


                  I like House of Curries. Cheap Pakistani fast food a la Shalimar / Naan 'n' Curry.

                  The food at Shen Hua is high quality but very Americanized.

                  There's a cap on food service / restaurants in the Elmwood so that empty corner space can't be converted to one.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    It is not in the Elmwood, but I finally made it to Flavors of India. YUM. A great addition to the neighborhood. Small, warm and inviting with gracious service, good prices and really good food. We started with the mixed vegetable pakora. The coating was not at all greasy, nicely spiced and the vegetables themselves had not been pre cooked to mush. The Madras Chicken was truly excellent. The spices were bright and fresh, the sauce was rich with coconut milk and what I think were cashews or almonds. Spicy, silky sauce and tender chicken that still had texture and moisture of its own. The fish curry was also very good. A darker deeper curry with more spice to it and not as silky. No coconut milk. The large pieces of fish totally held their own in the sauce. The fish had the texture and flavor of sturgeon. Very firm and assertive. My friend did not care for it.
                    Rice was good. Bread was very fresh and tasty. All items are a la carte. The owner told us that all meals are cooked to order and can be spiced according to your personal preference. We asked for and got spicy food. The spices were well balanced and did not overpower the meal.
                    Dinner for two: One app, 1 large Taj Mahal Beer, 1 glass of wine, 2 curries, rice and naan
                    came to $40. Good value for such good food. Can't wait to go back and try more of the menu.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston


                        Flavor of India
                        3211 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705