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Picture Perfect Hash Browns

I was walking past Ann's Kitchen (Telegraph & Dwight Way in Berkeley) the other day and my eyes focused on the hash browns being consumed by a customer. They were largish irregular chunks of potato with a beautiful golden brown crust. Damn, they looked good!

I couldn't get them out of my head, so I went up there for breakfast this morning. Ordered scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, and OJ.

Where to start? The plate was huge, with a massive serving of the "picture perfect" hash browns and two slices of balloon bread toast.

The OJ was machine squeezed, and along with the juice, included a good dose of the bitter oil from the skin, as usually happens with machine made OJ.

The eggs were dry and flavorless.

The bacon was the worst I have had in a long time and cooked just beyond the char stage. (It appeared it had been cooked under a weight, as it was dead flat.)

And, you ask, what about the hash browns? They must use the cheapest oil in the Western hemisphere. I won't say it was rancid, but the oil permeated the potatoes and left a strange, unpleasant aftertaste.

I ate maybe a third of what I was served and made a quick exit.

It was cheap, but like they say, you get what you pay for.

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    1. Try the hash browns at Jodie's in Albany. Perfect golden color, crunchy outside, smooth inside.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ernie in berkeley

        I've been meaning to check out Jodie's for, literally, years. I stuck my head in one day after I had eaten and had a really fun exchange with Jodie. Vowed to return but didn't. This will be fun.

      2. I had breakfast there once and I have no memory of it, but have never returned. You can get a passable breakfast up the block a bit at Bongo Burger.

        1. rancid oil?

          sounds like they recycle/reuse their cooking oil. first in the deep fryer, than on the grill, then....?

          virgin cooking oil shouldn't be rancid.

          1. Hash browns? Those sound like home fries. Well, and they don't sound very good at all despite the appearance. Too bad.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Yeah, they sounded more like home fries to me, too. Hash browns should be shredded, not "largish chunks"!

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Agreed. I should have called them home fries. They were so beautiful to look at. . . .

                1. re: TopoTail

                  I just had really good home fries at Saul's. Only Fri-Sun, the rest of the time they serve hash browns.

            2. That soup kitchen has been subpar forever...at least 20-25 years. Ate there once and never again. I don't know if it's the same owner/place but the general concept (soup kitchen) has been the same. I don't know how they survive.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ML8000

                Not forever. When I was in college, ?'s Soup Kitchen on the same site kept many a student going with their cheap, hearty soups and big chunks of whole wheat bread smeared with butter. I don't think it was Ann's back then. They had no breakfasts back then as I recall.

              2. If you don't want the hassle of Jodie's, try Royal Cafe in Albany on San Pablo Ave. Retro decor similar to Mama's Royal Cafe/Oakland (our fav breakfast spot ever), and the food is almost as good. Eggs benny are very good, I love their Solano Delight scramble, and many adore the scone with lemon curd, which comes warm and should be requested to come last or it gets cold. Coffee is Fair Trade and very good. Service is always cheerful and excellent.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jaiko

                  Last time I sent to Royal Cafe (and it was several years ago) they served about the worst pancakes I have ever tasted. They were dry and tough. I mean they tasted like Bisquick. It ain't hard to make good pancakes, and I just couldn't believe that a place specializing in breakfast would serve such bad ones. Never went back.

                  1. re: TopoTail

                    I went to Jodie's for lunch yesterday, and it was excellent. My friend had a reuben sandwich, which he said was terrific. I went for scrambled eggs, hash brown, bacon, and one pancake. The eggs were soft and scrambled so that there were still bits of the white along with the yellow. Not sure I ever had them that way before, but they were delicious. The hash browns were as good as any I've ever had. The pancake was surprisingly good, though I make better ones at home. Everything was made from scratch and prepared with attention to detail. The hash browns took at least ten minutes to prepare because of how carefully they were made.

                    Jodie is a trip, and the people who work for him are equally friendly. The menu is HUGE. The place only has six stools. There's more seating outside, but sitting outside one would miss the experience of the place, which would be a shame.

                    1. re: TopoTail

                      Interesting you said the Royal Cafe pancakes were tough. I have always found them to be a little on the too-tender side. We were just there last week and the pancakes were again, very soft and tender - quite good. Our standard for excellence is Mel's Diner in the Richmond district in SF - wonderful buttermilk pancakes, as good as my mom's.

                      1. re: jaiko

                        As I said, it's been a long time since I tried their pancakes, so maybe they're better now.