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Jan 30, 2008 06:22 PM

Brown Sugar Kitchen - West Oakland

Dropped by this morning to have a late breakfast at 11am ..... they start the lunch menu at Noon..... enjoyed a nice plate of stone ground grits and two poached eggs with some cheddar cheese. Also had to try the black skillet cornbread with brown sugar butter.
I don't often order grits ( but I love polenta ) so I don't have a lot of past dishes to compare to but these were almost fluffy .... creamy, with still some texture .... the cheese was an added dimension. the eggs were cooked just right - tender whites and runny yolks. The seasoning was satisfying but not over the top .... good comfort food for a chilly day. Enjoyed their version of cornbread - the cast iron skillet gives it a real crust but it's still moist in the middle .... with a touch of sweetness from the brown sugar butter. The cornbread itself is not particularly sweet - it's got a background of richness but is not dripping with butter like the last version I had at T-Rex. (which I enjoyed for the first few bites) The style of food is relatively simple but well executed. The place was filling up as I left. They are off to a good start .... they only opened recently.
I look forward to returning to try the gumbo or the ribs, etc.....

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  1. Thanks for the heads up, Gordon, this place really looks great. Hope to hear more reports soon, especially on the ribs and on the sweet potato pie!

    Brown Sugar Kitchen
    2534 Mandela Pkwy, Oakland, CA 94607

    1 Reply
    1. re: susancinsf

      Thanks Gordon. This sounds really great.

    2. Thanks will definitely check it out. Looking at the menu, it really does look like they've thought about it.

      1. I just came from an absolutely fabulous lunch at the Brown Sugar Kitchen, thank you so much for posting the menu. First of all, the place is really cool, kinda like 900 Grayson in terms of looks. While it is a smallish place, with about 10 or 15 tables or so, there is a great long bar with maybe 15 or so red vinyl stools that looked supercomfy. I had a shrimp po-boy that was out of this world. It came with 4 big shrimp, lightly coated but I wouldn't say breaded, with some coleslaw and drizzled with a remoulade sauce on what looked like a small Acme torpedo-shaped bun. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, really really perfect. I chose mac-n-cheese as my side. It came in a side dish and was covered in bread crumbs and had been heated up to crisp the top. Followed with an americano and a huge piece of pecan pie. The pie was scrumptious and the coffee was BlueBottle!

        Everything the kitchen was turning out looked so good. There was a composed salad of smoked trout with beets. A hanger steak with mashed potatoes and something else. A pulled pork sandwich. A veggie special.

        I am so excited about this place because it is in my neighborhood. I've lived in West Oakland since the mid-90s and never thought we'd get to see something like this here. And it was bustling with folks, all kinds of people, some who worked down the street, some who looked as if they lived around there, and some who looked as if they were in the know and came from Berkeley. I'm also guessing some work at Pixar. It was great to see. Let's support this good restaurant in what the BSK calls "sweet west oakland"!

        1. I was SO looking forward to trying BSK. Finally went a couple of Saturdays ago. Called to see if there was a wait...told no wait...10 minutes later when we arrived there was a 45 minute wait. So we waited, but I was really hungry so we asked if we could get a biscuit or cornbread while we waited. Answer, from a hostess with no customer service training, was no, we could buy whatever was on sale at the counter. Bad! All they had at the counter were desserts which we didn't want before breakfast so I got a cup of coffee. The coffee was excellent. However, after about 20 minutes the hostess came outside and told everyone waiting that there were no breakfasts left, but we could wait for lunch. Everyone was disappointed, but we decided to try the lunch. Once we were seated and saw the breakfasts at the table next to ours, we were glad they'd run out. The eggs looked like rubber...sort of the texture of those fake vomits sold in gag stores. So we ordered the corn bread (it was good, not great) and ribs (these were very good, meaty and falling off the bone, and came with a pineapple salsa which was tasty, but the ribs had no sauce of their own) and a pulled pork sandwich. The sandwich was uninteresting and lousy. Each main dish came with a side so we chose the molasses baked beans and the mac and cheese. These were so bad that we left them both. The billed "molasses" baked beans had no molasses taste whatsoever, but instead were heavily tomatoey and seriously undercooked. The mac and cheese may have been the worst I've had next to the blue box variety. It was dry as a bone and had no discernible cheese flavor. My empty coffee cup (I'd finished my coffee while we were waiting to be seated) sat on the table throughout our entire meal and not once was I asked if I wanted a refill. Our server, while pleasant, seemed like she was floating through a Qualuud haze. She smiled constantly and hardly did anything else. Our bill, when we were finally able to flag her down for it, was seriously wrong, but, since it was in our favor and we felt so mistreated, we just paid it and left. The place, while cute enough (I especially liked the stools w/backs at the counter) is nothing to write home about and the staff is in need of some serious training. The food is heavily flawed...some dishes being tasty and worth returning for, others being god-awful. This is an example of a place either opening too soon, before they have the big kinks worked out, or not taking care to get the important stuff right. I don't think I'll be going back to BSK in its vast wasteland of a neighborhood until I hear from someone I trust that they've made substantial improvements.

          1. Went to BSK for my birthday breakfast on Saturday. We nearly got lost trying to find it (coming from Berkeley), but once we were there, we were glad we stuck it out.

            I had the chicken and waffles with warm apple cider sauce, a side of biscuit and jam, a fresh-squeezed OJ, and a made-to-order Blue Bottle coffee. My friend had the cheddar cheese grits with poached eggs, biscuit and jam, OJ, and a coffee.

            Everything, and I do mean everything, was fabulous. The chicken was lightly battered and crispy, but not dry, the waffle was light as air, and the accompanying syrup complimented both the chicken and the waffle perfectly. The biscuit with Blue Chair Fruit jam was out of this world. That alone was worth going back for. Perfectly fluffy buttermilk biscuits that, while they didn't need it, I slathered with butter and Rachel's perfectly balanced jam (in this case it was blood orange marmalade). To top it all off, freshly squeezed orange juice and Blue Bottle coffee that was brewed to order. It couldn't have been any better.

            I didn't try my friend's meal, but she commented many times during the course of our breakfast about how well she liked it. She said that the grits were light and fluffy inasmuch as grits can be light and fluffy, and that the eggs were perfectly poached. She also said that the coffee was delish.

            I'm dying to get over there for lunch. Tried to go today, but didn't make it in time (they close at 3pm). You better believe I'm going to go soon!

            If you haven't tried Brown Sugar Kitchen, don't wait! Its been all over the food blogs lately, and once word gets out, its going to be harder and harder to get in. (I can't believe I just said that, but I really want to see this place do well).

            4 Replies
            1. re: chemchef

              A friend and I had the chicken and waffles on Wednesday and we concur. These are corn waffles, and I certainly didn't expect them to achieve the light, airiness that they did. Pretty amazing. The fried chicken was excellent, though a bit under-spiced for me. Still, it was lovely and crisp and I was happy.

              Only real downside is the slow service, though some of that may have been caused by our being caught between batches of chicken. It took a bit over thirty minutes for our food to arrive after ordering. Definitely had to throw up a flag to get the server's attention for additional coffee.

              The shrimp and rice the guy next to me had looked great, and there's lots more I'd like to try. I'm simply going to be certain to bring friends who like to talk, so I don't die of boredom waiting for my food.

              1. re: lexdevil

                Is there anything on the menu that you can order while you wait for the main course? BSK is on my list...just haven't been yet.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    BISCUITS and BLUE CHAIR FRUIT JAM!