Sunday, December 12, 2010


We're not sure what to call Bittersweet. It's like a café, but for cocoa instead of coffee. Let's call it a chocolé. It's a really cozy place to go on a rainy winter day (as we did) but you may have to wait a while for a seat (as we did). You can also order stuff to-go, like this guy above.

Of course we had to order hot chocolates, since that's kind of their specialty at Bittersweet. We shared one spicy hot cocoa and one peanut butter hot cocoa. The spicy one was our favorite, and it was actually surprisingly spicy (which we like). If you like spicy food you'll probably dig it, but if you're a spice-wuss, watch out!

The peanut butter cocoa was delicious, but we both thought it was a little too thick. Imagine drinking a steaming hot mug full of Skippy. It's like that. We loved the flavor, but when we think of hot cocoa, we tend to think of it as a liquid, not a solid.

We went to Bittersweet around breakfast time so we could try some of the food, as well as the cocoa. Steve got a croissant with ricotta and jam, and Bri had a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce. The turkey sandwich was a good call. The cocoa is so sweet that you kind of need something savory to go with it. The croissant with cheese and jam was too much sweet on sweet action, but it was a good croissant. They have a lot of other beautiful pastries and baked goods that we didn't get to try.

We did get to try these yummy bites of chocolate bread-pudding, because they brought a tray of them around to all the tables. We love it when places give you free stuff that you didn't ask for. EVERY PLACE SHOULD DO THIS!

We wanted to sit at this table with the nice window light so we could take better pictures of our food, but some other jerk got there first. Here's a photo of their stupid hot-cocoa. Choke on it, table stealer!

In addition to serving hot cocoa and pastries, Bittersweet also sells a crazy variety of pre-packaged chocolate items from around the world. Here is but a small slice of their wall of chocolate goodies.

We were on the fence whether to give this place 3.5 or 4 Sabuys, but free bread-pudding put them over the top. We'd love to see Bittersweet offer a little more in the way of savory foods to balance out the sweetness of the cocoa, but other than that they deliver everything you'd hope for in a chocolé.

We give Bittersweet 4 Sabuys.

Next stop: A Coté!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pizza Rustica

Our friend, Jacob Snackgroot, from New York was in town last week, so we decided to bring him on our Rustica Pizza review, since people from New York think they're all like experts on Pizza or whatever, yeesh!

We started with the Insalata Mista Verde with chicken added. It tasted like a salad you would get in your airplane meal... only bigger and not on an airplane.

We wanted to get a rotisserie chicken, but they were all out of rotisserie chicken. Apparently it comes from different type of chicken than the kind they put on the salad we got. So instead we got pasta with shrimp and scallops. The pasta was fresh and light (for pasta) and the shrimps and scallops were tender and nicely seasoned with garlic and Italian parsley.

We figured we should try to unite the east and west coasts, so we got the All American Pizza which comes with sausage, pepperoni, green bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Jacob could barely contain his excitement. Pizza Rustica offers two types of pizza crust: a regular cornmeal crust, and one that has fennel and other herbs added to it. We went with the more exciting of the two.

Everyone agreed that the pizza was the best part of the meal. It even passed muster with a genuine east coast pizza elitist. Rustica makes a really great pizza that falls somewhere in between Lane Splitter and Dopo on the fancy-scale. We would probably eat it all the time if it weren't so darn expensive. As it is, we'll probably still end up shelling out for a Rustica Pizza from time to time.


Briana and Steve give Rustica 3.5 Sabuys, and Jacob gives it two fuggedaboutits. Jacob also encourages everyone to check out the lovely art in the men's room.

Next stop: Bittersweet!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soi 4 (The lost review)

We are slackers.

So, three weeks turned into three months. We ate at Soi four (pronounced "soy four") back in May (before we went on hiatus) and took pictures but never put the post up. Then we got married, went on a honeymoon, did a bunch of other stuff. Now we're going to try and remember what we ate and whether or not we liked it.

This will probably not be our best work. Here we go:

OK, these look like drinks.

Um, pot stickers? There was something about this sauce that we maybe liked or didn't like... Maybe it was too sweet? I dunno, they look pretty good.

Corn cakes! Yum!

This was some kind of chicken thing? I think we thought it was pretty OK. (how helpful is this review, right?)

Yikes, um, well OK that's definitely asparagus, and uh maybe like bell peppers. I think I see some bamboo shoots in there. I guess we'd have to describe this dish as "unmemorable"?

OK, this one we remember. Dessert was fried bananas and ice cream. They were out of coconut ice cream so they used vanilla instead. It was good, but would have been better with coconut ice cream.

Who could forget our waiter, uh... this guy!

Soi Four 5421 College Avenue, Oakland, CA

Over all, the restaurant was fine, but a little overpriced. We give Soi Four 2.5 Sabuys:

Next stop Pizza Rustica!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On Hiatus.

hi all.
We are finally putting up a notice that we will be officially gone until august. We are getting married on Saturday and therefore have been a little preoccupied. When we get back we will be in full effect! Get ready! Well, in three weeks you should get ready.

Monday, May 31, 2010


We are not fish experts. Briana is actually allergic to raw fish, and Steve eats fish but is not really a big seafood lover. We've heard from other people that Uzen is all about the freshness and quality of their ingredients, particularly the raw fish. They have a somewhat simple menu, which focuses mainly on sushi. This is great for people who love (or aren't allergic to) raw fish, but for us it makes it a little difficult both to order and to fairly review. Next time we review a sushi restaurant, we'll be sure to bring along a seafood expert.

We started off with miso soup, and little salads. The salad was your standard sushi restaurant salad of mixed greens with a sesame dressing. The miso soup had a smokey flavor that Steve enjoyed, but Briana didn't care for. If "smokey miso" sounds like something you would like, then you should try it.

We also got Tsukune, which are skewered pieces of chicken meatballs. One had a sesame sauce, and the other was seasoned with Japanese herbs. Steve liked both of them, but Briana didn't like either one. The sesame one was not too surprising, but the Japanese herb one was pretty unusual. It's a very unique flavor, kind of bitter and aromatic, that some people will love and others will hate.

Briana got the tempura because she wanted to eat some fried food, however the batter on Uzen's tempura was so light that it was almost non-existent. The sauce that came with the tempura had a similar smokey flavor to the miso soup. Steve was into the sauce, but Briana, not so much.

Finally, the sushi. Clockwise from the top: Unagi (grilled eel), Tekka (tuna roll), and vegetable roll. Briana only tried the vegetable roll, and thought it was boring. Steve really liked all the sushi. The eel was nicely grilled, the tuna had great texture and flavor, and the vegetable roll was crunchy and refreshing.

We usually like the same things and tend to agree on whether a dish is good or bad, so it's difficult for us to come to a consensus on Uzen. Rather than give a single rating based on an average, we're giving (for the first time ever) separate Sabuys!

Steve says:
Uzen has great sushi, and some unusual and interesting dishes. The menu is not expansive, but the quality and uniqueness make up for it. Prices are reasonable, and service was good. I give Uzen 3.5 Sabuys:

Briana says:
This all coming from someone who can't eat raw fish, yet is attempting to review a sushi restaurant... I didn't care for many of the flavor choices, and was bummed that the miso had the same smokiness as the tempura dipping sauce. Each dish sort of just felt like a let down. BUT, the service was super nice, and I hear the fish is outstanding, so I won't be too harsh. I give Uzen 2.5 Sabuys for all their non fish things that I consumed:

Uzen: 5415 College Avenue Oakland, Ca 94618

Next stop: Soi Four!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Squared (I2)

I Squared (not I Two) is an Italian and Iranian restaurant so we brought our friends, Juliana "Spicy Italian Meatball" Tringali and Ashkon "Iraniac" Davaran with us.

We weren't sure how they were going to blend these foods and we were excited to find that you can get Italian food, Iranian food, or a fusion of the two. We ate everything.

We started with this Noon-o-Panir-o-Sabzi (no we can't pronounce that). It includes pita bread, yogurt, feta cheese, basil, and tomato. Ashkon told us this is a very traditional spread for Iranian dinners and festivities. The yogurt had mint and maybe cucumber in it. We all loved it so much that we saved it to put on later dishes... as well as getting another bowl of it.

For greens we got the I Squared Salad, which consists of goat cheese, roasted corn, mushroom, avocado, and mixed greens. What can we say? It was a nice fancy salad. The cheese was mild and went well with the balsamic and olive oil dressing.

Meatballs and sauce! Everything about this was great. Juicy and well spiced meatballs, Succulent tomato sauce. The waiter noted that the chef gave us an extra meatball because we had four people at our table. Aw.

If you like mushrooms they have a dish of all Sauteed Mushrooms with garlic, wine, and topped with Parmeggiano Reggiano. This was nice to eat on its own, the sauce was rich yet subtle. But if you are luke warm on mushrooms don't get it, it really is just mushrooms in a delicious sauce. It was nice to split between 4 people because you get enough to taste the yummies, but it's not like you just ate 1,000 mushrooms.

The Fried Calamari served with lemon and house-made marinara sauce was off the chain!!! You know how sometimes the calamari can be sort of rubbery but you are like, "whatever at least I am eating fried stuff?" Not this. It was tender and the fried part was light... and fried. We liked the sauce this dish came with, but also we improvised. We dipped the calamari in the spaghetti sauce (what?!) and the mushroom sauce (what??!!) and the yogurt (yuuuuup). All of these choices were correct. Mm.

After all our Italian appetizers, we switched to a fusion dish. Lamb Shank with pearl pasta, tomatoes and artichokes. The flavors from the two countries were a wonderful complement to each other. The lamb was perfectly cooked and fell of the bone. Our group was split on the pasta. Some felt it was a great pairing, while some felt it was sort of bland. However, everyone agreed on how great the lamb and sauce was.

Our final dish in the dinner course was the I Squared Kabaab, a combination of one skewer of koobideh (ground beef) and one skewer of chicken breast kabaab with rice and roasted tomato. We all loved the rice on this dish. Iranian rice is magical and filled with butter. We used the rest of our yogurt on the Koobideh, we recommend you do the same. This meat was pretty salty and the yogurt calmed that down, turning it into a really great flavor. The chicken was fairly plain, we thought it might need something. The presentation of the beef kabaab was also a little... unfortunate. The roasted tomatoes were awesome.

After that light meal we thought we needed some dessert to make sure we wouldn't go hungry. We all split some fantastic little cannoli.

Thanks Juliana and Ashkon for teaching us about your cultures. Thanks Squared.
Despite how this picture looks, they are not a couple.

We had a great time and are definitely interested in going back to I2 to see what they come up with. As a side note, the interior was beautifully designed and the chef and wait staff were exceptionally friendly. We give I2 4 Sabuys (2 Sabuys Squared):

I Squared: 5403 College Avenue Oakland, CA 94618

Next stop: Uzen!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Sorry, we have been gone for a while. Last month got a little crazy, but we are back on track!

We used to come here fairly often, but haven't been back in a couple years. Not much has changed.

Let's get to reviewin':

We split this green salad. It was fine, nothing to write home about. If you like gorgonzola cheese... you might not like this salad, because there isn't much on it.

Steve got penne pasta with prosciutto and asparagus, in a light garlic cream sauce. The pasta itself was whatevs, but the prosciutto really stood out. The sauce a little spicier than we expected, which was a nice surprise.

Briana got Chicken Marsala with polenta; it tasted like it was drenched in maple syrup. The chicken was thin and unsatisfying. The polenta was yummy, but covered in sweet. Gross.

The cheesecake was fine. How can you make cheesecake "just okay?" It's cream and cream cheese and sugar?! It didn't have any of the graham cracker crust, which should be required on all cheesecakes.

Tiramisu was also just okay. The creamy part was creamy (awesome) but the coffee flavored part just tasted like plain sugar.

One very welcome change is that they seem to have some good wine now... And it's still inexpensive. Last time we were here there was a very limited selection, and most of them were not worth the $4.50 a glass.

The service was a little lackadaisical. They weren't rude or anything, they just seemed distracted. Filippos, you never change. We give you 2.5 Sabuys:

Filippos: 5400 College Avenue Oakland, Ca 94618

Next stop: I2!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hudson Bay Cafe

We were expecting bagels and coffee, and we weren't even sure there would be enough "cooking" to count this as a "restaurant". But it turns out... Hudson Bay Cafe has sandwiches! And soup! And lots of baked goods.

We both got coffees. They tasted a little burnt, but not terrible. We might have just gotten there at the end of the pot.

Steve got a breakfast sandwich with "the works" (eggs, cheese, bacon, and ham). (Not vegan.) It wasn't amazing, but it got the job done.

Briana was so excited they had sandwiches available in the morning that she got a turkey club. The sandwich was fine. The potato salad had some herb or something in it that was delish. But all together it was just too much mayo for before 10am...

So, Briana fixed her mistake by getting breakfast #2: banana bread. Yum. (No mayonnaise.)

So the food at Hudson Bay Cafe is pretty average, but the staff are super friendly and fun, and the giant windows let in tons of nice light for photographs and for people watching. We give Hudson Bay 3 Sabuys.

Here are some more pictures:

This is one of the people we people-watched.


Don't bother this guy, he's busy.

This guy recognized us from our article in the East Bay Express.
Now we have to wear disguises.

Good to know.