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Why aren't there more places like Cafe 15 and Outerlands in the Bay Area?

v
vulber Apr 6, 2010 06:34 AM

The first time I went to Cafe 15 in Oakland, I was blown away by the quality of the food, and couldn't believe there was nothing like it in San Francisco. Then I discovered there is, in the form of Outerlands.

Regardless, despite a plethora of formal sit-down restaurants serving California/Cal-Med cuisine in the Bay Area, there really seems to be a lack of places like the above that serve California cuisine made with top-notch ingredients and cooking, where you order at the counter and nearly everything is under $10.

Thoughts? Or am I way off base and just don't know about other ones? (I do realize that Outerlands is slightly more refined than Cafe 15, but I still consider them similar)

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Cafe 15
597 15th St, Oakland, CA 94612

  1. Shane Greenwood Apr 6, 2010 07:18 AM

    Gregoire in Berkeley is a good one.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Shane Greenwood
      Shane Greenwood Apr 6, 2010 07:19 AM

      link

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      Gregoire
      2109 Cedar St, Berkeley, CA 94709

      1. re: Shane Greenwood
        Shane Greenwood Apr 6, 2010 07:22 AM

        Also, Cafe Fanny for breakfast.

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        Cafe Fanny
        1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

        1. re: Shane Greenwood
          v
          vulber Apr 6, 2010 08:16 AM

          of course, forgot about Gregoire.

          While Cafe Fanny definitely matches the description I gave, I've always found the food to be good, but not great.

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          Cafe Fanny
          1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

          1. re: vulber
            Shane Greenwood Apr 6, 2010 08:40 AM

            I would toss "out the door" on there too.

          2. re: Shane Greenwood
            oakjoan Apr 7, 2010 11:31 PM

            I agree that the breakfast food at Cafe Fanny is really good, but it's just too pricy for me.

            I haven't been to Gregoire for many months because of a couple of overly expensive and not that great dishes. I'm talking about the one on Piedmont.

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            Cafe Fanny
            1603 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

          3. re: Shane Greenwood
            i
            indigirl Apr 7, 2010 05:32 PM

            For me, Gregoire quickly lost its early bloom. Used to be consistently full of love, & sometime after the expansion to 2nd location they seemed to lose that consistency. To be fair, things are never bad or even mediocre (with one exception*), but I acutely feel the difference between good & great. The potato puffs though are solid gold! That's mainly what I get there anymore.

            * There was a risotto that led to argument w/ the cook over our divergent understandings of "al dente" -- his definition was "raw & hard in the middle" & his tone & attitude showed that he considered me an unwelcome rube who wanted him to dumb down his fine cuisine for my ugly American palate.

            1. re: Shane Greenwood
              Glencora Apr 7, 2010 06:18 PM

              Aren't many, if not most, items there more than $10?

              1. re: Glencora
                i
                indigirl Apr 7, 2010 07:09 PM

                I looked up the menu just now. For dinner, definitely over $10. Lunch items are under $10 but one item often seems not quite adequate for a full meal, so you end up spending more than $10. Contributes to my overall sense of mild disappointment, since I have quite a thing for Value.

                1. re: indigirl
                  BernalKC Apr 7, 2010 11:48 PM

                  Those prices are in line with both Outerlands and Cafe 15. And the strong tendency to order more than one item and drive the price well over $10 is also similar. Same with Kitchenette. The last time I was at Cafe 15 I had the Po Boy, a strawberry lemonade, and a panna cotta == $15. As long as the food is outstanding -- and it was -- I'm OK with that for the occasional lunch treat.

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                  Cafe 15
                  597 15th St, Oakland, CA 94612

            2. daveena Apr 6, 2010 08:17 AM

              How about Sentinel in SF?

              1 Reply
              1. re: daveena
                v
                vulber Apr 6, 2010 08:44 AM

                I'm thinking places that do a more than just sandwiches. The savory bread pudding at Outerlands was only $7 and absolutely phenomenal; places that do stuff like that....

              2. BernalKC Apr 6, 2010 08:48 AM

                Great question. It really should not be that hard. Certainly there are plenty of 'ethnic' places where the ingredients are top notch, service is counter-casual, and prices are low. But California cuisine? Not so much.

                How about Kitchenette? And I haven't managed to eat there yet, but Heart has their food at <$10 prices, and there is seating.

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                Kitchenette
                958 Illinois Street, San Francisco, CA

                Heart Wine Bar
                1270 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                2 Replies
                1. re: BernalKC
                  v
                  vulber Apr 6, 2010 09:06 AM

                  Looking at the menu, it seems that wine bars like Heart and Fat Angel (where I went last night, really good, will write a report soon) are more meant for noshing on small bites with wine, rather than places to go for dinner.

                  Nonetheless though, it's encouraging

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                  Fat Angel
                  1740 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                  1. re: BernalKC
                    Shane Greenwood Apr 6, 2010 06:56 PM

                    Kitchenette is a good call for lunch. Not even a counter to order from, just a loading dock and a folding table. Food is always great and they seem to be expanding their menu with more choices.

                  2. BernalKC Apr 8, 2010 03:24 PM

                    Any reports about Fish&Farm's "American Box Lunch"? Looks promising, and everything is under $10. Seems like it might fit in this category. http://www.americanboxlunch.com/

                    1. m
                      ML8000 Apr 8, 2010 03:45 PM

                      To answer the question -- part of it is philosophical and lifestyle, i.e., making a living/having a life vs. making a killing and big success.

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