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Berkeley is my new Cambridge, now where do I eat?

Thanks for the breakdown. I'm just a poor grad student at the moment, so my standards for "special restaurants" are limited by my meager stipend. I'll be sure the check these out and I'll probably be at Cesar for a drink this evening.

Berkeley is my new Cambridge, now where do I eat?

I'm brand new in the Bay Area, just moved into my apt in North Berkeley after having spent the last four years working in Cambridge, MA. I've been through a number of the "where do I eat" threads and was hoping to hear some slightly different input here. Understandably, I'll never find places which are exactly the same as my old haunts back in Mass, but for when I'm feeling homesick a close resemblance will do. So, that said, which local restaurants might best approximate the following:

Ten Tables: high value contemporary American, always a very nice meal, well prepared and presented, slightly dressed up but still casual atmosphere, great 3rd date spot.
Craigie St: that one special restaurant which will blow your socks off and eat your wallet.
Greet St: a bar which knows how to make a proper sazerac, which has 5 types of bitters, and whose bartenders can figure out what you might like after a few drinks. And a great bar menu.
Greek Corner: lamb gyros. That is all.
Brookline Lunch: dirt cheap greasy spoon diner/cafe serving breakfast all day.
Blue Room (lunch): summer grill pit, cash only, plastic plates, excellent food.
Mike's Pizza: family run, counter service pizzeria with a bar, and where they'll remember your name.
Anna's Taqueria: somewhere tasty where $5 will guarantee you'll be full till your next meal.
Blue Ribbon: vegans be damned, good southern barbecue

If anyone else has lived both places, any other comparisons would be welcome, I feel like I've eaten at most of Cambridge's restaurants.

Friendly Toast Revisited

Ding ding ding. We have a winner. I've been twice and won't be giving them a third chance. Both times I've been seated right away and thought that was a sign of good things to come, but both times we waited 15 minutes before flagging a waitress to take our drink order. The food took an eternity as well, both times we had to ask what was taking so long (25 mins for pancakes?); one of those times the kitchen apparently had forgotten our order. But as the OP said, the pancakes were delicious. At the end, both times, we had to flag the waitress for the check.

If you asked me to make a list of types of people who make good waiters, hipsters wouldn't make the list. Aren't they apathetic contrarians by nature?

Boston area's Best Donuts

Verna's on Mass Ave. a few blocks south of Davis Sq. has some fantastic donuts. I highly recommend the glazed old fashioned ones. Their butternut is also a regular choice of mine.

Best place to buy a duck?

I've decided that a good way to spend the coming long weekend will be to take a whole duck through as many new recipes as possible; the cold smoker may even get to make an appearance. Call it a test run for the coming holiday season.

I stopped into Savenor's on the way home and they had nice looking fresh Long Island ducks for $5.99/lb, or about $30 a bird. Is this my best bet? Or should I be able to find a better value elsewhere. For what it's worth, I live in Cambridge and can get anywhere by T or bike.

Where to buy lard?

Formaggio on Huron Ave in Cambridge has lard, you have to ask for it, and she seemed to suggest that they might not always have it. I was looking all over for it and struck out at both Savenor's locations. My empanadas are in the oven right now, so I don't know how it tastes just yet, but they smell good!

unusual ice cream?

emack and bolio's on Newbury used to have lucuma ice cream back in the day. (S. American flavor-- Peru/Chile) But I haven't seen it there in years-- if anyone knows where to find it, I'd love to know. My personal stash of lucuma is about to run out.

Somewhere between Capitol Grille and Outback Steakhouse is the steak of my dreams

No, no, no. I can't disagree more. Unfortunately, I can't recommend a great steak place, but please don't go to Frank's. To illustrate my point, take this into account: I have lived <300ft from Frank's for three years and have been to eat there twice. The first time was bad, but I gave it a second shot, considering how close it is. I wanted it to be my local joint. The second time was worse. It can't even be my local bar because they tried to pass off a Harpoon as a Sam when they were out (rather than tell me, and really what Boston bar runs out of Sam?). And the Harpoon? It was flat. Save Frank's for when you're over 70, that's their market.

Recipes as flavor combinations

I don't post much here, but love lurking around. I'm a huge fan of simple recipes-- not necessarily simple to make, but simple text. If I'm wading through a long list of recipes, it's a lot easier to read a list of flavor combinations than to read full recipes with numbers of cups/tbsps and minutes of cook time etc. For example:

Sear corn kernels in olive oil with minced jalapeƱos and chopped onions; toss with cilantro, black beans, chopped tomatoes, chopped bell pepper and lime.

Comes from Elsewhere an author would say how much of each veggie, how much lime juice, etc.

My question is: does anyone know of other places to find lists of recipes like this? Where the recipes assume that you're not ignorant in the kitchen and can put things together in good ratios?

Office Cafeterias-- Tasty and Public

Tapping the knowledge base here for new and unusual places to eat. I'm a big fan of locales with good food and lousy atmosphere, I'm not terribly sure why.

Anyways, I figure a number of you have a cafeteria in your office building and that a number of these places might actually be pretty good (or at least have one or two delicious items). If they're open to the public, let's hear it.

I'll start off with the Whitehead Institute Cafeteria in Kendall Sq. The $4.00 Salmon burger is pretty OK and the $5.00 Guapo Salad (steak tips and grilled onions/peppers/mushrooms over the house salad) is quite tasty. The onion rings may not be homemade and hand battered, but they're fantastic for some reason.

Mexicali Burrito at Technology Sq.

Just finished eating a burrito from MexiCali, and just registered at this site so I could tell everyone it's not worth it. For some reason, Boston loves its burritos and I'm no exception, so here's my assessment.
What I ordered: Watsonville style, comes with rice/beans, 2 fillings (I got carne asada + squash), and all toppings (pico de gallo, sour cream, guac, lettuce, cheese).
Price: $7.50
-Quantity of food: weighed in about the same as a super burrito from Anna's, Advantage: BoLoco.
-Burrito cross-section: Even amounts of each ingredient, read: almost no meat. BoLoco is about half rice, so... Advantage: Anna's.
-Quality of construction: poor. They go for the short and fat style of wrapping which makes it difficult to eat, same as BoLoco and sometimes Chipotle. Bad foil wrapping resulted in drips. Advantage: Anna's.
-Taste: I get black beans because they aren't as salty or mushy as the refried, so when you leave them in the gook they are stored in and add tons of salt, that's not a good thing. Also, the meat was non-discernible from the rest of the ingredients in the center. Overall, meh.
-Value: terrible. Advantage: Anna's over and over again.