So after trudging out late and reservation-less on a Saturday evening in the East Bay, we went to Chop Bar, took one look at the mobs, and turned back around. But where to go last-minute in downtown that is high quality but won't have a wait and where we can hear ourselves think?
Breads of India in Old Oakland. Done.
As usual, the place was mostly empty- seriously, I think there were 3 tables seated out of 20.
And yet, also as usual over the past several years we've been going to this location, everything was great.
After having more run-of-the-mill protein-in-sauce dishes on previous trips, I finally decided to try the "Coorgi-style" pork roast that I've been eying. And it was moist inside, really nice char outside, and made me happy. My partner got a vegetable dish, and the textures were just right and the flavor was great.
Lots of dishes that you don't see in almost any other Indian restaurants, regional specialties from all over the subcontinent (well, per the menu anyway, but definitely not stuff I see elsewhere), including multiple seafood/fish options. Nice atmosphere- maybe a little cavernous. Prices that are comparable to self-service: $12 for the pork roast and $8(!) for vegetarian items. And a lot of food for that price- two pork chops, dal, rice, and salad.
Which makes me wonder- why is this place so empty on weekend evenings?
I know Indian isn't exactly trendy, but I would much rather eat at BOI than, say, Burma Superstar. It can't be the location alone- we just ate at Cosecha, which is overflowing despite being a so-so value, IMHO. Are they just terrible at promotion? Is the dining room haunted?
I will concede that the service, while friendly, was a bit confused. They brought one dish that was wrong and another I'm not sure if it was right- odd, given that there were so few people there. I've never had this problem there before, though, and I think this was maybe an issue with our particular server rather than an across-the-board problem.
How do they stay in business? Big lunch traffic (I've been once or twice at lunch- busy, but not crazy)? Lots of takeout from people in the neighborhood?
Normally, I would just be grateful and leave it at that. But I worry that they can't actually stay in business at this rate.