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Sad experience at Saul's

Starfish | Dec 10, 200410:04 AM

I had a Hannukah dinner with friends on Wednesday night at Saul's in Berkeley and feel compelled to vent, mostly because we spent some time reminiscing about the late '70s when my uncle managed this deli and named the sandwiches to honor my grandparents and other relatives. Sigh. Gotta love it.

Anyway, we ordered extra latkes and brisket platters with some hope that they might be half-way decent. And they were half-way decent. Specifically the crunchy, fried outsides of the plate-sized latkes were good while the pasty, uncooked insides were not. I kept thinking that some magic fairy would fly into the kitchen and mention that making the latkes smaller is an excellent idea, but it didn't happen. I can't believe no one complained! And I didn't, either, because I don't think it'll do any good. This is Bay Area deli, so you have to just lump it or leave it, I guess.

The brisket was juicy with tasty carrots and celery cooked very well, but still needed a kick, so we asked for horseradish. And we got it, but it wasn't the pureed white, super-hot kind we expected. Rather, it was sweet, mild, chopped, fresh horseradish with beet juice, with barely any kick and seemed more appropriate to Passover. It's this kind of thing that makes me wonder whether my parents shouldn't have moved from Chicago to San Francisco 30 years ago. I love California, but I'm just sayin'....mayonnaise on burgers and pink horseradish. Help us. Also, do we bring out Christmas holly and wreaths when it's Easter? Nope.

The brussel sprouts were firm, yet grilled hard in some oil. They were good, but I'm a veggie lover. I noticed other people were not digging them so much.

The pickles on the table were excellent, but heavy on the salt, which was ironic, since the rest of the meal, everyone else was reaching for the salt shaker.

We shared their nouveau version of Noodle Kugel. I hated it, but then, I'll only eat Mom's egg noodle-raisin kugel, so that's not fair. My cousin B loved its sweetness, fresh pears and uptown cheese, so it works for some people.

Overall, disappointing. But I'll still come back for lox-eggs-onions and a corned beef sandwich, 'cause it might be okay then and I'm willing to suffer for the cause. Better to have sketchy deli than no deli at all!

Happy Hannukah!

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