Monday, November 18, 2013

Eat in Berkeley: Eureka

Left: Osso Buco Riblets made with red wine braised pork, tossed in aioli
Right: Fresno Fig Burger made with fig marmalade, goat cheese, bacon, tomato, onion, and arugula, served with garlic fries

Jalapeno Egg Burger made with a fried egg, cheddar cheese, bacon, spicy chipotle sauce, and jalapeno peppers

King Crab Cake Sliders made with breaded crab cakes, lemon vinaigrette, and romesco salsa, served with Golden Sweet Potato Fries

Left: Panko Crusted Onion Rings served with Eureka's Spicy Ranch Dressing
Right: Goldengate Butterscotch Pudding with homemade whipping cream, caramel sauce, and sea salt

Almost two weeks ago, I was invited to experience a delicious meal at Eureka, a burger restaurant that just opened on Center at Shattuck in downtown Berkeley on October 28th. With my plus one in tow, we enjoyed a wonderful, seven-course meal that was curated by Sally and Laura, two members of Eureka's management. We began by discussing Eureka's origins. The restaurant group began in Redlands in Southern California and has since expanded to ten locations across the state. While they have the same menus at all of their restaurants, they use mostly local ingredients. They're known for their burgers, but they also specialize in high-quality American favorites, often with a twist. They have a full bar and partner with local breweries to expand upon their wide selection of craft beer. They even have happy hour and $5 bloody mary's for the weekend brunch crowd. They make it a point to be involved in the community by hosting ongoing events like industry night for those in food service and band nights featuring local musicians. Eureka boasts of a teamwork-based serving system, meaning the servers share tables so you'll never be left waiting for the check.

We began our meal with the whiskey sampler, which includes four types of whiskey such as a rye and a hoppy blend. While I'm not much of a whiskey drinker, these were rather smooth. My partner-in-crime, a fan of the alcohol, can vouch for this selection. We then tried the Lollipop Corn Dogs, or what I like to call, "corn dogs for adults." An all-natural Polish sausage is breaded with cornbatter, shaped into a ball, put on a stick, and served with a spicy porter mustard sauce, ketchup, and a cheddar I.P.A. sauce. Unlike the corn dogs I remember having as a kid, these were just the right size so they didn't taste too heavy. The flavorful sausage was complemented by the tangy sauces nicely. Eating them off a stick and trying the different sauces provided a fun bit of youthful nostalgia.

The next course was the Watermelon Salad which features a bed of quinoa with diced cucumber, tomato, and zucchini, walnuts, dried cranberry, red bell pepper, carrots, and feta cheese, surrounded by towering watermelon spears drizzled with balsamic glaze. Being a watermelon fiend, this course was one of my favorites. I would never to think to put balsamic vinegar on watermelon, but I'm glad I tried this refreshing combination. Our final appetizer was the Osso Buco Riblets. This red wine braised pork was cut into bite-sized pieces, making rib-eating much easier and less messy. Although I tend to avoid ribs, these moist riblets were also one of my favorite courses.

We then moved onto the main event: juicy burgers. Their burgers are vegetarian-fed and antibiotic- and hormone-free. The first one I tried was the Fresno Fig Burger made with homemade fig marmalade, goat cheese, bacon, tomato, onion, and arugula with a spicy porter mustard. The fig taste made this already perfectly-cooked burger all the more dynamic, highlighting how Eureka transforms American favorites with a twist. This was served with garlic fries that any garlic fiend would wholeheartedly approve. The second burger was the Jalapeno Egg Burger. The juicy patty was accompanied by melted cheddar cheese, bacon, and spicy chipotle sauce. It was then topped off with a fried egg whose gooey yolk dripped down the burger as I took a bite. Being a huge fan of fried eggs, this was my favorite course. It was served with Panko Crusted Onion Rings, another classic side created entirely in-house.

We then tried the King Crab Cake Sliders with Golden Sweet Potato Fries, both of which I'd highly recommend. If you like crab cakes, this is one worth adding to your list. The lightly-breaded crab cakes are the perfect size and are rather tasty to boot. The sweet potato fries are glazed with honey and cinnamon, leaving you to wonder why you haven't thought of trying this combination sooner.

Eureka made sure our already delicious (and extremely filling) meal ended with a bang by serving us the Goldengate Butterscotch Pudding. This pudding was like none other that I've had before. It was accompanied by homemade whipping cream, caramel sauce, and topped off with sea salt. What took this rich dessert to the next level was the sea salt. It added an extra punch to each bite, which left me in a dreamlike state, wondering if this was reality.

Since Eureka is located mere feet away from the BART station, it's a truly great way to end a busy workday. It's clear that Eureka will only add to downtown Berkeley's lively dining scene and emerging nightlife.

I'd like to thank Sally and Laura for giving us such a memorable dining experience, Heather for making this all happen, and Eureka for hosting us.

Photo credit: The second, third, and sixth photos were taken by Eureka and are used with their permission. I took the remaining photos.

2068 Center St., Berkeley, CA 94704
Open: Daily (times may vary)

Check out more posts from Berkeley.

This weekend I came across "Still Life with Grape Juice and Sandwiches, (Xenia)" by David Ligare at the de Young Museum. Pretty neat, eh?

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