Recently Visited Restaurants

Where we’ve eaten lately: Pathos, Rangoon Super Stars, The Star, Doukkala, and Miss Ollie’s

New Berkeley Listing

Pathos Organic Greek Kitchen

GREEK   Greek food elevated this far above the deli take-out template is a rarity in the Bay Area, and the overall Pathos vibe is a pleasing one with its finely executed restaurant design amid a sedate palette of grays, blacks, chocolates, and tans. This is stellar repast, pure and simple. There’s a nine-item orektiko (small plates) section of the menu and an ample kyrio piato (main courses) component plus soups and salads as well as a capacious and copiously stocked bar, meaning impressive house cocktails. The dish to try is the htapodi, a perfectly grilled large octopus tentacle, though the crunchy and salty marides (fried smelts), spanakopita, keftedes, and smoky eggplant melitzanosalata caught our attention, as did the mind-altering moussaka and devour-to-the-last morel lavraki (whole wild white sea bass cooked in the wood-fired oven) and signature paidaka (Niman pork chops). Add a little wine—an interesting mix of Greek and domestic reds and whites with a few French, Spanish, and Italian vintages thrown in, plus a few Rosé, and sparkling selections—to complete a meal worth remembering and repeating. Serves dinner Wed.–Sun. and brunch Sat.–Sun. 2430 Shattuck Ave., 510-981-8339. CC Full Bar Reservations Wheelchair Accessible $$$$


New Berkeley Listing

Rangoon Super Stars

BURMESE   It’s only natural that salads would be popular in a humid Southeast Asian country whose average summer temperature surpasses 90 degrees and whose winter temperatures hover well over 70. And it’s only natural that mixery-and-matchery would characterize the salads and other dishes of an ancient land inhabited by more than 100 ethnic groups, sandwiched between culinary powerhouses China, Thailand, and India. And it’s only natural that Burma would engender a cuisine in which fusion isn’t a bug but a feature, particularly in salads and soups, the main attractions. That’s what happens on the plate here, from the tea-leaf salad, or laphet thoke; soup, or mohinga, a catfish-purée chowder; and ohnoh kawt swe, a lustrous coconut-cream bisque, thanks to the talents of U Win Aye. He is an ex-Burma Superstar chef who makes the fusion even more fantastic and manages to weave together the flavors of East and West in the other classics such as stir-fried noodles, biryani rice, curries, marinated kebat dishes, coconut rice, pork curry, and bone-on catfish. One exceptional fusion dish is minted-jalapeño tofu, chicken, or pork, which also contains entire sautéed garlic cloves. Options for vegetarians and vegans abound, another plus. Open daily serving lunch and dinner. 2826 Telegraph Ave., 510-647-9744. CC Full Bar Reservations Wheelchair Accessible $$$$


New Oakland Listing

The Star

PIZZA   Put The Star on your list when you’re in the mood for atypical ingredients. It’s the perfect stop-off, say, on a weeknight evening stroll on Grand Avenue, because The Star is a stylish space with cool accordion doors that continue the European-bistro feel established by its predecessor, Milano. The Star, also the operator of Little Star Pizza outlets in the Mission and Albany, keeps the focus on pizza, thin-crusted or deep-dish pies with tomato, pesto, or ricotta sauce. The Star turns to local nomenclature, from Adams Point and Broadway Terrace to The Port and The Gold Coast, to name its suggested pizzas and in the process sets an in-the-know tone to its menu. Unexpected ingredients like garlic-infused olive oil, chicken, hot sauce, bacon, cherry peppers, Emmentaler cheese, and even meatballs show up in interesting combinations. If pizza is not your thing, however, the starters, salads—the tonno with field greens, cannellini beans, poached tuna, Parmesan, and lemon vinaigrette sounds great—and sandwiches should suffice. No high fructose corn syrup and few GMO foods here. Serves lunch and dinner daily. 3425 Grand Ave., 510-843-7827. CC Beer and/or Wine Reservations $–$$


New Oakland Listing


MOROCCAN   Take a crash course in Casablanca with a trip to this classy Moroccan restaurant, formerly home to Tanjia, its owner’s previous restaurant. It’s where new potatoes, artichoke wedges, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, eggplant, garbanzo and fava beans, cilantro, and peas come together as a vegetarian stew or tagine, the components heavy and dense yet simmered to the perfect point of tooth-tenderness with a chorus of cumin, cinnamon, and sun-soaked saffron. Named for its owner’s seaside hometown, Doukkala serves complex dishes with simple dignity, from the harira and minty braised escargots to the iced white sangria and flaky-crusted, cinnamon-and-powdered-sugar-dusted pastilla. The ingredients receive heavy Turkish and Greek influences, like most Mediterranean food, and Doukkala boasts a value-driven wine list spotlighting both local and Moroccan small-batch vintages that echoes a priority: offering high-end meals at low-end prices. Serves dinner Tue.–Sun. and brunch Sat.–Sun. 4905 Telegraph Ave., 510-653-8691. CC Beer and/or Wine Reservations Wheelchair Accessible $-$$$


New Oakland Listing

Miss Ollie’s

CARIBBEAN   Barbados-born Sarah Kirnon puts a lot of soul into her market-driven Caribbean restaurant named for her maternal grandmother. While the seasonal menu varies a little, Kirnon’s widely heralded and celebrated fried chicken, which she copied from her grandmother, plus salt fish and ackee, jerk shrimp, plantains, greens, and fritters (usually split pea or cornmeal), and pickled things (eggs, vegetables, for instance) are staples of the limited but delicious offerings. One of the recurring standouts is the island-style pork, a tender, flavorful medley of slow-cooked, herb-and-citrus rubbed pork shoulder—goodness in a bowl siding plump pinto beans and greens. The casual, no-frills place has a decidedly homey-family feel, with tables and dishes meant for sharing. Serves lunch and dinner Tue.–Sat. 901 Washington St., 510-285-6188. CC Full Bar Wheelchair Accessible $-$$

This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Alameda Magazine
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