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Kwik Way – Rotisserie chicken, mac and cheese, apple pie, coffee shake and secret menu [Oakland]

rworange Feb 23, 2012 08:54 PM

Before I go on and on, I want to note the apple pie is excellent. The little personal size pie has one of the few crusts without butter that I like.

It isn’t too delicate. It isn’t flakey. It holds the filling without falling apart without being tough. It is a great texture.

It is packed with sliced apples with buttery, brown sugar, cinnamon personality. Like the crust, the apple texture is perfect, not mushy not under done. Just right.

Other noteworthy things are that gluten-free buns are available and the veggie burger can be made vegan on request

Anyway, I’ve been thinking all afternoon about Kwik Way … maybe over thinking.

They have added some new things to the menu like a breakfast burrito, soup, the chicken, mac and cheese with mushrooms. I’ve never been so don’t know if they had babyback ribs, mango shakes, or a Rueben in the past.

I may be wrong, but I think the secret menu is the stuff nobody orders because Kwik Way leads you to think that it is about classic burger food and going in with that expectation will lead to disappointment.

I think Kwik Way marches to its own drummer and if you dig the beat, the food is easier to appreciate.

At first I thought KW didn’t understand upscaling. Thinking about it, I think KW has invented its own category … a level between upscale and regular chow.

It doesn’t do the precious upscale thing with the name vendors and meat that requires a curtsy.

While i enjoy it, I can't eat a lot of upscale food. There is a boring sameness about it. Everybody is doing their own twist on the latest au courant ingredients. i remember the year of skate and the huckleberry which fortunately passed like most does ... huckleberries hung in quite a while tho. They were almost as persistant as the earlier trend of blackened stuff and raspberry vinagrette. it is just everybody does the same thing at the same time.

Kwik Way does different. Not different in a self-promotional way, but slightly, quietly, modestly re-thought.

After sitting and waiting for my order and watching the Latino chef and mainly latino staff … without having tried a single bite of this part of them menu, I suspect the Mexican-inspired items might be the way to go.

No one orders them because they think it is an everyday burger joint.

So maybe the things to order are

-breakfast burrito

-Mexican coffee

-Mango shake

-Pineapple coconut aqua fresca

-Strawberry ginger aqua fresca

-Grilled corn on the cob

-Baja burger

-Corn salad

That corn salad is what I mean by different. It is the classic Mexican corn but with a bit of a change … queso fresco, poblanos, red onion, tomato, chips, chipotle dressing.

Initially I thought this might be a Latino-owned business and they just weren’t getting what people expect for upscale, that they didn’t understand the culture. However, maybe they are just doing their own thing.

I got the cheeseburger with white cheddar and my first thought was … what the hell? Immediately I thought … oh no … the new Flipside around the corner is way, way better

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/835190

What was that garlic taste? The bun was odd. Then I started to dig it, as long as I put classic burger out of my mind. It was almost like good meatloaf.

Ditto on the mac and cheese. It had curly noodles. It wasn’t creamy or overtly cheesy. Then I got into it and the mushrooms were a nice taste addition.

The chicken isn’t expensive but it is small and scrawny looking. The white meat of one breast barely made a chicken sandwich. It is simply sprinkled with salt and pepper.

There is not one interesting thing about it. However, again … the taste was nice, the breast not dry and almost as flavorful as the dark meat.

The coffee shake was good. It was evident real coffee was involved and not just coffee flavored ice cream. I read there were coffee nibs, but this one didn’t have any. It was a little more robust than I like a coffee shake. I’ll probably try the mango one of these days.

Anyway, I didn’t want to post elsewhere because I’m hoping there can be some discussion about the place. Also, this isn’t a totally positive review and I didn’t want to post where there was a larger audience.

This will just disappear in the archives. The last Kwik Way post was when it first opened. It was mainly a memory lane thread about the old joint with only a few actual reports about the food. So like that post, this one will soon disappear without calling any negative attention to what might be an interesting restaurant if viewed in a different way.

This guy sums up what i think
http://www.yelp.com/biz/kwik-way-oakl...

'There's something weird about Kwik Way.

Maybe it's the unique flavor of the beef (shawarma comes to mind), their peculiar insistence on using white cheddar on their cheeseburgers (it's good, just trust them) ...

I'm just not sure, but I keep coming back to try other things, and I'm never disappointed, just never wowed'

Does a place need to wow if it keeps you interested and coming back?

PS: Anyone tried the house-made potato chips?

Address and website

http://www.yelp.com/biz/kwik-way-oakland

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    abstractpoet RE: rworange Feb 24, 2012 01:22 PM

    I don't know, I've been kind of underwhelmed the few times I've gotten food at Kwik Way. Specific to your comments, I've had the breakfast burrito, and the best thing I can say about it is that it is a whole lot of food for $4.95. But once you get past the spicy salsa (which is distributed very unevenly), everything else in the burrito is bland, bland, bland -- especially the shredded pork, which I guess is meant to be like carnitas. The meat is tender but has no flavor at all. A little salt would have made this more palatable.

    Also, I found the pineapple agua fresca just way too sweet. So I definitely wouldn't recommend going for all the Mexican items as a general way of approaching their menu.

    The only other things I've tried are the burger and fries (which I reported on in the earlier thread -- basically, they were fine, but nothing I was in a rush to go back for), the vanilla milkshake (didn't care for it), and the banana cream pie (also not a fan). I would imagine that they use the same crust for all their pies, but maybe it makes a difference that this is a cold pie -- unlike your positive experience with the apple pie, I found the crust to be tough and flavorless.

    Here is that earlier thread, mostly with reports from when they first reopened: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778865

    1 Reply
    1. re: abstractpoet
      rworange RE: abstractpoet Feb 24, 2012 06:45 PM

      Thanks. After getting through about half of yelps over 200 reviews, I only found one that tried the agua fresca (liked it). I don't want to invest the calories in a breakfast burrito.

      Though the crust on the apple pie wasn't tough, it was more the vehicle for holding the filling and letting that star. It was kind of neutral. That can be a good thing as the god awful taste of the crust at Duarte's just distracts from the filling. Ditto on Nation's.

      One of the problems of Kwik Way, IMO, is the packaging. If a place is going to have that retro drive thru burger joint look, it probably should have food that doesn't stray far from that.

    2. drewskiSF RE: rworange Feb 24, 2012 03:45 PM

      The owner of Somerset on College in Rockridge is the owner of Kwik Way.

      I've walked by KW a few times, but seem to end up eating at Cana, down the block.

      1 Reply
      1. re: drewskiSF
        rworange RE: drewskiSF Feb 24, 2012 06:50 PM

        i never went to Somerset, but there are a lot of similar items. I wonder how they compare other than price. Looking at the yelp reviews it is almost the same pattern as Kwik Way ... a three star joint where either people love it or hate it ... a lot of times for the same reasons.

      2. drewskiSF RE: rworange Nov 1, 2012 04:08 PM

        $2 Tuesdays @ Kwik Way

        Every 1st Tuesday of the month burgers are $2.
        http://www.kwikwayoakland.com/blog/tw...

        Anyone been recently?

        1. j
          jaiko RE: rworange Nov 2, 2012 02:55 PM

          We hated Somerset in late 2010. OK, they made a good mushroom tart appetizer. The rest of the dinner for the three of us was stunningly mediocre in both quality and execution. A shame, because it was a pleasant interior with a great back patio.

          Appreciate your review of Kwik Way as we go past it all the time, but we'll probably never go there. It does seem to be attracting a steady crowd, however. When it comes to diners our hearts belong to Mel's on Geary Blvd. in SF, sigh. But Rizzo, now that Somerset's space has been sold to Commis' Syhabout/Italian Colors' Carlson, is planning Destino: 3909 Grand Avenue, near Sunnyslope, Oakland, up the street from Kwik Way.

          He says, “What we would like is a fresh start so everyone will give us a try." Considering how bad Somerset was, let's hope his fresh start begins with a better chef this time.

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