Saul’s Deli, a place for delicious comfort
Posted in Berkeley / Culture Vulture / East Bay / Food / Good Ideas / Magazine / Travel |
Driving along Shattuck Avenue from North Oakland to North Berkeley I sometimes feel like I am sharing the road with giant Gobstoppers, colorful, uncoordinated balls of saccharine. It’s a sort of transportational dodgeball on a crowded weekend afternoon. My mother reminds me to start our parking mantra early: “a perfect parking place is now opening up for our use.” It always works when she does it.
We find ourselves squarely in front of our chosen restaurant. Saul’s gives me a reprieve from the indecisive rush outside, the smells of chicken broth and steaming corn beef could convey even the most hardened Berkeleyite to comfort. The place is only shuttered for Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day – for the other 362 days it plays living room to a panoply of people.
Peter and Karen, the steadfast owners, have considered every angle. They’ve tread the difficult path to sourcing local grass-fed beef for their in-house pastrami, skirted big soda by making their own, and maxed out their relatively tiny kitchen space to satisfy both Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions.
If food were indeed medicine, my prescription pad would be filled with the following:
For melancholy due to complicated bill-paying conversations with spouse: share a weekend breakfast of Saul’s deli hash with poached eggs, a salty silken trinity of slivered corned beef, Saul’s famous pastrami, and salami cured down the street at Local Butcher. Crunch a half-sour pickle to avoid bitter thoughts.
For soothing the pangs of life’s toughness: bring your mother and treat her to the meal of her choosing. For you: two matzoh balls, no noodles, that drown in broth the way my grandmother insisted. Follow with a double wide slice of barely-sweet cheese cake to share. Hug your mother.
For a superior casual date night: impress your partner by attempting to pronounce Malwach with a proper Yemeni twang. Eat this dinner-suitable pancake slathered in zataar-topped labne.
To lessen the blow of unexpected news: order at least two blintzes at any time of day. Three is recommended if the situation involves a housing dispute or if you are pregnant.
To reconnect with a long lost friend: share a Cobbish Salad and Saul’s corned beef reuben on rye reconcieved from old fashioned recipes by Peter and his friend, the owner of Acme bread company, who now makes this divine loaf. Let your friend decide if the sauerkraut should be in the sandwich or on the side.