i now sing the praises of Meal Ticket.
on a moderately nondescript corner in berkeley, i've had some of the tastiest, unfussy 'california cuisine' meals in the bay area.
the first two times i frequented Meal Ticket, i had the pork loin sandwich. the bread was one of those crusty types replete w/varied seeds attached to the top, e.g. fennel and caraway (i think).
the pork itself was marinated/slathered w/a chipotle sauce of sorts (forgive the vagueness-- it's been a bit). lettuce, onions and tomato (out of season, but tasty and charming for it's nonconformist appearance) set on the side so one might assemble the sandwich at will.
the vibe of the place is just so darn charming. on the one hand, the woman who takes orders at the counter gives the impression that she can't be bothered to be congenial, yet she is gracious as all get out. it's also a self-serve joint of sorts; once again, though, she'll skirt 'round the self-serve issue and appear in the dining room checking to ensure everyone is content.
my last visit yesterday morning was the clincher. i'd been meaning to make it there for breakfast any number of times, but my lazy ass couldn't get there before weekday breakfast service shut down at 11:15.
this time i made it.
i ordered the cornmeal pancakes (which have gotten rave reviews in the east bay express). they were all i'd anticipated. they were substantial w/o being heavy. the cornmeal didn't chafe w/it's grittiness. it came across as essence of corn. simply topped w/a few cherries, wedges of apple, a slice of orange and a mini-pitcher of real maple syrup i could make my own ideal pancake bite; boy, did i.
this is how i imagine a casual eatery should be in this so-called food mecca locale of our's-- great products prepared in smart simple ways. sort of a chez panisse joe's/ann's/what-have-you's diner. how, too, 'california cuisine' might have manifested itself had we not gone down the more unfortunate fork in the goat cheese, eggplant, red pepper terrine road.
it saddens me a bit that it's on the other side of the bay, but, hey, i think i rather like the work involved in getting to such a fine meal.
1235 San Pablo Ave at Gilman
Berkeley, CA 94706