Jul 19, 2007

Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen

I've lived in California all my life, and I like the concept of "California cuisine," which I imagine to be defined as food that's fresh, locally grown, innovative, tasty without being heavy, and plays with the flexibility of flavors given by the ethnic diversity found here. Still, there's something in me that really likes the idea of Southern comfort food. I don't think I've ever tried a dish with Southern origins that I didn't like. And while I've only ever travelled horizontally across the US and haven't yet ventured down into the southern states, it's places like Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen that gives Californians a little hint of what the South has to offer. Cause sometimes you really do just need food that sticks to your ribs!

I found Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen on Yelp, where lots of satisfied Yelpers sang its praises, one proclaiming it "better at this than anything west of the Rockies has a right to be." Sounds good to me. So I asked my friend Priya to join me, and as we walked down Shattuck and chatted we almost walked right past the restaurant. Inside, it looked like this:

Fairly small and dimly lit, with a flashy mosaic alligator hanging on the far wall. Perhaps not the most charming of decor, but the atmosphere was cool in a funky, casual kind of way. We got great service right from the start - our waiter was really nice and very attentive, and also pretty hilarious (I think he called me "my lady" the whole time), and the owner of the restaurant noticed that we were students and asked us how we found out about the restaurant. He even gave us a kind of discount coupon, if we spread the word about the restaurant to other students. So what if it may feel like cult recuitment? Free food is free food!
The menu was interesting even starting with the drink menu. I wondered what "Swamp Water" was and was informed by the waiter that it's half-lemonade, half-iced tea! I'm confused now as to this drink's origin, though, because I saw Ina Garten call the same drink "California Iced Tea" yesterday on TV, as she proclaimed that "they love this in California." Huh. Well, in any case, while I'm sure I would love it, I opted for the Sweet Tea instead. And it was sweet indeed, so much so at first sip that I squeezed the heck out of my lemon wedge to cut back on it. But as the meal went on and the ice cubes started to melt and water it down a little, it actually became quite tasty. Iced tea is probably my favorite beverage, and I love plain lemony iced tea with a simple syrup so it's sweetened throughout. I think the way sweet tea is traditionally made, however, is with the sugar mixed into the hot water so there's no need for a syrup. Anyways, it was good. I'd get it again.
Next came the hush puppies. Lots of Yelpers seemed to consider these to rival Gregoire's mighty Potato Puff, which makes me think of an animated hush puppy vs. potato puff battle, all cutesy and anime-style, with corn meal and potato spewing out from the battle arena and grease stains everywhere. Don't they just sound like they could be the names of Pokemon characters or something? Anyways. I love hush puppies. There aren't many things more satisfying than essentially a fried cornbread ball dipped in something yummy! Served with honey butter, these were awesome. Just perfect as an appetizer between two or three people.
Our entrees came out pretty speedily. I got the penne pasta with chicken in a blue cheese cream sauce. Fried oysters can be subsituted for the chicken, but because I was curious about the fried oysters (I had originally planned on getting one of their po' boys) I asked for them to be added rather than substituted. Oh, sweet gluttony! I liked my dish well enough, but the blue cheese flavor was very dominant. I should have guessed as much, but for some reason I expected a subtler flavor. Still, it was tasty, and the oysters were yummy as anticipated, and the portion was so huge I didn't even make it through half of my plate and packaged the rest.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a clear picture of Priya's Jambalaya, but she loved it. See the joy on her face? It was pretty standard Jambalaya, with I think chicken, shrimp, and andouille. Tasty!

When dessert time came around, we were really, really stuffed. But we'd come too far to turn back at the last moment, and I'd heard great things about the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. Oh. My. Goodness! SO GOOD. The picture is terrible, but it was seriously just so delicious. I'd come back just for a piece of it and nothing else. Warm and gooey, with a sweet, sticky, burnt-sugary topping. I generally like my bread pudding a little on the dry side, because I don't like it too mushy. But somehow this bread pudding managed to be both puddingy and cakelike at the same time, moist, but dense and firm. Covered in caramel. Good grief.

I really, really liked our meal there. I'd definately say our expectations were met, and everyone was happy, even Jenn and Lindsay who couldn't make it but who I brought back extra hush puppies and bread pudding for. Nothing like fried food and dessert to get you through studying.


Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen

2261 Shattuck Ave (between Bancroft & Kitteridge)

Berkeley, CA 94704


Dagny said...

I've been meaning to go there since the end of last summer, shortly after they opened, when a friend raved about the wonderful food.

Anonymous said...

This looks so delicious!


Vikram said...

I can't believe you guys didn't get the oyster po'boy, everyone I know seems to love it

I'm actually a little confused about the Swamp Water and California Iced Tea. To the best of my knowledge, they both involve rum, don't they?

buster said...

half lemonade, half iced is also known as an Arnold Palmer. Don't know why, but that's what the wife orders.

I just found a Wikipedia reference FWIW


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