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Albany - Jodie’s – “soulful, simple and home style”

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  • rworange Oct 30, 2005 12:42 AM
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Jodie’s is famous for his fried chicken available only on Saturday and Sunday, but my vote so far goes to ‘Jackie’s A+ Grilled Cheese Sandwich with grilled tomatoes, red onions and mushrooms … as buttery, oozy and satisfyingly good as it sounds.

Omelets are made by mixing the ingredients with the eggs. On one visit I had Joel’s special … hash browns, grilled onions, mushroom, cheese topped with Jodie’s tomato-based sauce. The mushrooms and onions are grilled, sprinkled with cheese near the end, put in a bowl and mixed with three eggs and finished in a cast iron skillet. Flames leap around the skillet as Jodie flips the omelet. The English muffins are off the griddle, browned and buttery.

The chicken is simple and satisfying. With a soft coating … texture-wise it is like KFC. Jodie keeps it on towels in a warm oven. Instead of putting it in Styrofoam containers like the other take-out food, the fried chicken is put in a paper basket in a paper bag so that it can ‘breathe’ instead of “sweating” in plastic.

No waffles, but I highly recommend ordering it with two of Jodie’s buttery pancakes. This old Chowhound post describes the chicken better than I could as well as the cheese cake made by Jodie’s wife.

http://www.chowhound.com/california/b...

I guess you have to stop by at the correct time to get the chicken plucked from the cast iron pan. At prime time Jodie is a wonder to watch – a perpetual motion man. However, the chicken is made prior to the rush.

Although I’ve never had them, I’d skip the fries that Jodie grabs a handful from the plastic bag in the freezer and plops in the fryer. The home fries are as good as described in the above link.

Check your cholesterol at the door. There’s lots of butter and oil. Nothing is fancy, but it is … simply good.

Anyone who lives in the Bay Area needs to stop by Jodie’s.

In fact, you haven’t really experienced the Bay Area until you take a cable car ride, visit Fisherman’s Wharf, shopped at the Berkeley Bowl … or had breakfast at Jodie’s.

What they all have in common is that they are all unique experiences not found elsewhere.

Usually I hit restaurants off hours to avoid the crowds. By luck, I never seem to go to Jodie’s any other time except when all seven seats and two sidewalk tables are filled in addition to a steady stream of people dropping by for take-out orders. At Jodie’s it's like eating with friends or family.

Sit at one of the corner seats next to the door and you’ll be asked to bring plates and drinks out the people sitting outside. There isn’t room for the people behind the counter to get to the outside tables … everyone would have to get up from the counter seats to let the server out. Even some of the people behind the counter are frequent customers who volunteered to help out every now and then.

As little room as there is, it never seems crowded and everyone seems to fit. Today, one guy tucked his toddler against the wall on the counter

The subject line of this post is a quote from the dead-on San Francisco Chronicle article by Malgorzata Wozniacka. The article is on Jodie’s website (Other button). There are a few pictures of Jodie and the counter as well. A highly recommended read to experience the spirit and flavor of Jodie’s.

I asked for a take out menu and found out that Jodie’s has a website with the menu and “The Wall” … the real menu of Jodie’s specials which don’t appear on the menu, but are colorful signs posted along one … well … wall.

A picture of one of the signs is below and the website has SOME of the others. Like the sign in the window says, there is a 100 item menu, most of them not on the menu or wall but in Jodie’s memory. Just ask and he will make it.

The Chron article says Jodie, 65, from rural Arkansas, cooked in a number of kitchens when moving here in 1959 including the Foster's chain, Jack London Inn in Oakland, Solomon Grundy's and Ole's Waffle Shop in Alameda.

In addition to Jodie’s wife making the cheesecake and pies, his youngest daughter runs the catering business. The link to the catering menu is on the website and includes dishes like:

Acorn Squash Soup in a Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash
Bettye’s Gumbo
Bacon, Pear and Bleu Cheese Salad
Lamb and Apple Hash with soft polenta
Roast Pork with Apricot, Fig and Pistachio Stuffing
Sautéed Salmon with Onion Strewn Grits and Portabella Mushrooms
Perfect Roast Turkey with Sausage Cornbread Stuffing and all the trimmings
Fried Chicken with Herb Roasted New Potatoes and Pan Roasted Green Beans
BBQ Ribs with Potato Salad and Baked Beans

Back to the restaurant …

The regular menu has some BBQ items and here’s a link to another Chowhound post about the Q.

http://www.chowhound.com/california/b...

Coffee is served in cups with faces that are similar to Sponge Bob square pants. Jodie seems to like cartoon characters and toys which fill any remaining space. You can request a specific colored mug or bring your own mug with you. Kids are served in those spill-proof plastic glasses with straws, also in color of choice.

Another thing on my list to try is Jodie’s “Nothing with something”. It’s Jodie’s chance to get creative and is different every time. The something can be meat or, on request, vegetable. Today there was a big pile of friend veggies on some eggs and … well, it’s hard to describe.

Ohhh … eggs … I really want the Rookie’s special I saw today … a bed of corned beef hash topped with two plump fried eggs with two large pancakes.

Asked why the name, Jodie said it was named for the cops who stop by in the morning. Many of the wall’s specials are named for customers. The other walls are plastered with pictures of customers and a few thoughts like "It's better to serve one person 10 times than to serve 10 persons one time."

It seems most people come back at least ten times.

Jodie's Restaurang

CASH ONLY

902 Masonic St. (At Solano
)Albany, CA 94706

510 526-1109

Hours:

Closed Monday

8am - 4pm: Tuesday - Sunday

Recent Bay Guardian article
http://www.sfbg.com/39/52/x_cheap_eat...

Link: http://www.djovida.com/jodie/

Image: http://www.djovida.com/jodie/Jpgs/Bet...

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  1. Wow, that's quite a write up, nicely done!

    I grew up and graduated from Albany High, which means I've terrorized many local establishments.

    Jodie's is semi new and used to hang out there asking him for "Big Food". Jodie was kind, yet frustrated with me being such an ASS. He didn't understand "big food" and cursed me. I explained that to make big food you'd need a whole roasted chicken, wrapped in sliced beef with pork ribs on the side, then you'd need to butter some bread and fry it.

    He understood then, but never really liked me.

    Biggles

    1. Ahh Jodies's. The memories come flooding back. When I lived in Albany, I used to go there every few weeks. My favorite was the veggie omlet topped with his homemade BBQ sauce. I know, an omlet with BBQ sauce sounds weird, but it worked great for me. After a while, I just went and sat at the counter and Jodie made me something, always different, but always good. He knew my taste.

      1. link

        -----
        Jodie's Restaurant
        902 Masonic Ave, Albany, CA 94706

        1. I am heartbroken to report that Jodie is no longer serving fried chicken. He was prepping it at home during the week, and that's not allowed.

          http://albany.patch.com/articles/frie...

          6 Replies
          1. re: ernie in berkeley

            Well, good news if you can make it up to Pinole. The new Tina's Place (she moved from El Sobrante) serves fried chicken that reminded me of Jodie's ... but even better.

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7984...

            For $11.95 you get half a chicken, a choice of potoates, a whole ear of corn on the cob with a side of butter to spread on it, a sourdogh roll, and a choice of shoup or salad. One of the most fabulous deals in the Bay Area.

            Tina's has sooooo improved from the restaurants in El Sobrante

            Peach cobbler or strawberry shortcake for dessert ($3.95). Bread pudding too, but that's not my thing.

            The fried chicken is only available for dinner.

            1. re: rworange

              Sounds good, but to me fried chicken is breakfast food.

              1. re: ernie in berkeley

                Sadly for you, Tina's Place only has chicken fried steak for breakfast.

              2. re: rworange

                The dinner for $11.95 sounds great. But on their website it shows it is $15.95 plus $1.95 to add a soup or salad. Is the website incorrect?

                1. re: zinga34

                  Yes, the website is incorrect. The printed menu in the restaurant has lower prices. They just opened in May, i believe. So they may not have updated the website as the website just annouces they will be opening soon.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Great. Will have to give it a shot! $12 good deal- $18 not so much. :-)

            2. Sad to report that Jodie's is closing down on June 16.

              http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/06/0...

              (I was kind of hoping they were the ones moving into the recently-vacated Sophia Cafe around the corner, but no)

              4 Replies
              1. re: ernie in berkeley

                that sucks. they were stopping with the fried chicken for a while...maybe time for Jodie to retire....will miss his good cheer, the slathering of the butter on the pancakes after he flips them and of course his chicken.

                1. re: ernie in berkeley

                  That really is too bad. I remember there were Save Jodie's type news items a short while back; I guess they couldn't save Jodie's, then.

                  The food truck option he discusses in the piece is a fine idea; it's not like that tiny space seated many diners anyway.

                  1. re: dunstable

                    No, but sitting in that tiny space helped make the place what it is.

                    1. re: lmnopm

                      Or on the sidewalk!