Pub date February 24, 2009
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink

› le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS I’ve been eating a lot of spaghetti and meatballs lately because it’s Boink’s favorite thing to make. Meatballs. Makes sense, right? Making meatballs has everything that kids love: pouring milk somewhere that milk doesn’t belong (on bread), smushing with a fork, cracking eggs, beating, tearing parsley leaves off of stems, sticking your hands into meat and other slimy things, rolling it into balls …

And then the key to cooking with kids, I learned the hard way, is to get the unfinished product, in this case a tray of meatballs, out from under them before they give you a lesson in entropy. To Boink, who is almost four, there is as much fun or more in the act of catastrophic dismantling as there is in the act of ordered creativity. One time a carefully assembled counterful of ravioli turned into a mountain of sludge while I was using the bathroom, for example.

I’m old enough to know about entropy in a firsthand, personal, and bodily way. I don’t need these demonstrations. I mean, conceptually at least, three- and four-year-olds have got nothing on me when it comes to an understanding of thermodynamic principles. I love entropy; it’s just that I prefer ravioli. Especially for dinner.

So I have learned to hover, watch like a hawk, hold my bladder, and time my dive perfectly. From the counter to the stove, virtually no time at all passes — so that from Boink’s point of view, the meatballs were there, then they were gone.

It’s sad in a way to have to scramble such a pure, scientific mind with a sense of magic. But dinner has to happen. It’s in my job description.

Speaking of which, since I’m still trying to review you a restaurant now and again, and since I have a whole new neighborhood of restaurants to explore …

What’s that smell?

Oh yeah, I almost didn’t recognize it, it’s been so long, but here comes a three-part series. What I love about Rockridge is that for all the hoity-toit and hullabaloo, it turns out there are plenty of down-homey, down-to-earth, and downright reasonable restaurants to duck into, if you’re me.

And I don’t mean Pasta Pomodoro or Barney’s, although both those places have their place.

Soi 4, the great date destination, is not that much more expensive than other Thai restaurants, as I recall. And Zachary’s, for all its lines and overknownness, is manageable during off hours, and you can always order half-baked to take home. I’ve been back to the Crepevine a couple times, and still love it.

But what I didn’t know about Rockridge was the Rockridge Café (which rocks), Christopher’s burger joint (which is up there with Barney’s but has a much more jointlike feel), Sabuy Sabuy (cheap cheap Thai food), and a pretty gritty looking burrito place, the name of which escapes me.

I should rein it in before my little three-part series turns into a five-part three-part series. On the other hand, reining it in is not exactly my style.

So, to add a fifth to the mix, I was standing outside of Currylicious with the Maze, debating between going on in or crossing the street for an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet we’d passed on the way.

This rarely happens: the owner of Currylicious walked up from the other direction, handed us take-out menus, discussed the small matters of rice and tea with us, and we were sold. Well, the Maze was sold. I was already planning on Currylicious because my new landlordladypersonpeople had recommended it.

I think it’s the newest place on that part of College Avenue, but what do I know? I’m even newer!

Great food, good free tea, labyrinthine layout…. What a dumb name, though. They sound like they were named by Yahoo, or some dating site, because their first five choices were already taken.

I’m not going to hold it against them. Lamb cholay, which is garbanzo beans and three big lumps of lamb in a nice, spicy curry ($6.99), naan ($1.49), and the Maze got vegetable biriyani ($6.99), and that was good too.

New favorite restaurant! Across the street from my new favorite bar, McNally’s, which has a fireplace and a pool table. Exactly on the way to my new favorite post office … and, by the way, I mean it. I’m not a post office reviewer, but this one looks like it is run by three-year-olds. It’s a mess! I can’t wait to go back.


Daily: 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

5299 College, Oakl.

(510) 450-0644

No alcohol