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Mar 1, 2012 10:17 PM

some changes at Saul's Deli [Berkeley]

A friend had time for a quick dinner in North Berkeley, and recommended Saul's. I hadn't been there in years, and I was up for giving it a try, especially since Thurs. is Farmer's Market day, and that always is fun to explore.

I was delighted to see the new (to me) menu, and one that embraces Sephardic influence. Tho anathema to the concept of the East Coast Jewish Deli, I found it delightful experience. I only had one dish, and thought it was terrific: Kasha with noodles, covered with sauteed cauliflower and carrots, with a hint of harissa and preserved lemon. It was yummy. And the Acme rye is a really good bread.

I look forward to visiting Saul's and enjoying the new chef. I'm told she's Israeli, and clearly is enjoying the creativity of good ingredients + Sephardic flavors + the freedom to be imaginative.

ps- a plate of pickles are once again offered at no charge to each table. And they still have things like chopped chicken liver, but it's served with a layer of carmelized onions. Service was pleasant and attentive.

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  1. Well I guess it's time to give them a try AGAIN! Every time (and I mean EVERY (!) I have tried them before... over many years..they have been absolutely dreadful.......I always have hope...

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChowFun_derek

      yeah, I know what you mean. So I'd say I'd go back but tiptoe with caution around the menu.

      I think what's interesting and possibly exciting are the Sephardic influenced specials.

    2. Wow, that's quite a change. Labne, hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, sardine schnitzel with dates and almonds, chicken schwarma, za'atar salad, malawach with zhoug ...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I used to live in the neighborhood and it is my best friend's favorite, so have gone there frequently over the years. Hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel have been on the menu forever. The other stuff you mentioned for a while.

        I really think they are trying to be what they are not. They packed them in b4 the changes and the pack them in now. I used to love their brisket sandwiches. I had a brisket plate 2 weeks ago and it was good but too lean and the portions were small. I think my favorite dish would be the Pastrami Ruskie sandwich: pastrami, cheese, kraut?, Russian dressing. It is fair sized and fairly priced and comes with one side.

      2. They have a lot of Sephardic (or Mizrahi...) influenced dishes on the breakfast menu. Drizzled on top of their challah french toast last weekend was a halvah date sauce. At first, it seemed gimmicky and didn't really mesh well with the French toast. But when mixed with the whipped cream on the side of the plate, it turned delightful. The garnish of a cube each of melon, pineapple, and watermelon was sad looking.

        The cheese blintz was passable. The meat hash needed some extra pepper, but was pretty good.

        1. They now have draft beer, wine, and full bar. Small mug of Moose Drool was $6.25.

          Free half sour and full sour pickles were excellent. Dills were OK.

          Home-style chopped liver (appetizer portion $7) was still good though it needed salt. Good Acme rye, next time I'll ask for salt.

          Falafel platter ($11.25) was very good: smoky eggplant, creamy Israeli-style hummus, excellent tabouleh, thick warm pita. This is nice to know about since Holy Land closed.

          Potato salad that came with the pastrami was good, unusual mix of roasted red peppers and pickles.

          Posted about the pastrami here:

          Cheesecake ($7.75) was excellent. Hold the strawberry sauce. Where is Hanna's Bakery? They also provide a few other items including the hamantashen.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            How was the texture of the chopped liver? More chopped, or more pate-ish?

            1. re: lmnopm

              Relatively fine compared with some homemade chopped liver I've had, but it's not pâté.