2067 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704 | 510.981.1789 | website
For years I have wanted to try the Vietnamese feast called 7 courses of beef, and was very excited when my friend Brenda of Bites and Bourbon organized said feast at the venerable Anh Hong restaurant in Berkeley. Joining us were Christina of East Bay Dish and Ben of Focus:Snap:Eat, for the specialty of the house, Bo 7 Mon, which arccording to their website, their family created. In 1954 the Anh family established their first restaurant in Vietnam, and have since opened up branches in the US with 5 locations in California. It’s a big roomy upscale interior with a stage in the back where a woman with a very sweet voice sang along to taped music.
Bò 7 Món, the Seven Courses of Beef is $21.95 per order, but you don’t need one order per person, that would be way too much. We shared two orders between four hungry diners, and another specialty of the house, oven roasted catfish. I was a bit intimidated about the meal, picturing platters piled high with slabs of meats and ribs, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the feast was not a total meat eating frenzy, instead it was very Asian, by which I mean the proportion of meat is in balance with other food groups. While the star of the meal is beef, the dishes are accompanied with lots of fresh herbs and vegetables, thin rice vermicelli noodles, to be wrapped up with fresh lettuce in rice paper rolls and drizzled with savory sauces. I advise to wash your hands before the meal, because you’ll be using your hands to make lots and lots of rolls.
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1400 Park Street, Alameda, CA 94501 | 510.522.2391 | website
Capone’s Speakeasy is a new venue in the tranquil island of Alameda, which is just off the coast of Oakland. It’s smack in the middle of bustling Park Street, which is jam packed with many excellent restaurants that make the area a destination. The former bank building was built in 1888, and the 7,000 square feet interior has been transformed into an elegant restaurant/club with dramatic 24-foot ceilings, soaring columns topped with gilt capitals, an exhibition kitchen and a 72 foot long bar made with original marble from the bank and topped with mahogany. I went with my friend Lee last week as guests of the house to check it out and I felt the need to say ooh when we walked in because it feels like you have stepped back to a time when speakeasies were hip and jazz was cool. The decor is unabashedly masculine, but your eyes are drawn up to the two massive glittering chandeliers which dangle from the meticulously finished ceiling. One side of the room is outfitted with long cushy sofas to lounge on while the main floor is filled with high tables surrounded by black leather topped chrome stools. The room is ringed with flat screen TVs that we were told they plan to have black and white films playing on, rather than the sports that was currently on.
The restaurant opened with a bang last month when the owner got into a scuffle with the police at the gala opening party, which almost seemed like a publicity stunt to play up the gangster persona of its namesake Al Capone. The restaurant also had a dress code requirement that really seemed to offend the locals (and which may account for their low 2.5 star rating on Yelp). It’s hard to imagine that they turned people away, I mean is there a thuggy element we need to worry about in Alameda? [click to continue…]