Berkeley: Southern Comfort at Ms Angeline’s

I dig comfort food. I dig it even more when it’s rich, loaded with zesty flavors that rely on the skillful art of cooking with spices and none of that spicy-hot just to be obnoxiously spicy-hot jazz. Add a ton of seafood and sausage goodness and I’m basically in heaven.
Saying all of that, I was incredibly excited to finally get a chance to dine at Angeline’s Lousisiana Kitchen in downtown Berkeley. Opened in 2006, it’s been a mecca for southern Cajun cuisine (which is much-needed in our neck of the woods), and raved about over and over by critics, foodies and folks alike. Chef de Cuisine Brandon Dubea (pronounced dooBAY, and seriously, how cute is that?) mans the kitchen bringing with him his childhood tastes and smells from Baton Rouge, LA, how can a food fan girl like me resist? Plus I had heard from a reliable source (aka my gossip queen on Yelp) that Chef Dubea is also a yummy bit of eye candy. Spicy Cajun food and a sexy chef? I’m all about that, laissez les bon temps rouler!!

Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen
2261 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 548-6900
http://angelineskitchen.com

(I sure did steal that pic from their website!)

We got there about 15 after our 8:30pm reservation due to a completely un-food related parking situation, along Shattuck, the parking is always horrible. I called in to let them know we’d be late and they were very accommodating. When my sister, our friend Sytha and I finally arrived; we were seated right away and three orders for Swamp Water went in. Swamp Water is their homemade concoction of half lemonade and half iced tea (yea, an Arnold Palmer) and was incredibly refreshing, I finished a glass before we got our appetizer order in and drank about 4-5 of these bad boys throughout the meal!

Hush Puppies: Traditional cornmeal fritters w/honey butter (4.95)

I’m having a SAD PANDA moment for these Puppies. They looked so good in pictures and everyone kept raving about them! I love hush puppies and when they came to our table in a little bowl, the girls and I dug in so excited, but.. it was over-fried. The outside had a distinct burnt flavor, if they would’ve pulled it 1 minute earlier, it would’ve been perfect. The inside was light and fluffy but the outside, *sigh* killed it for us!

Jambalaya: w/sauce piquant, roasted chicken, tasso ham & andouille sausage (13.95)

I make a pretty yummy jambalaya (if I do say so myself!) and I’m a huge carb whore, so all that rice and meat with spicy sauce in a huge bowl was tapping into my Asian Soul big time. The rice was perfectly cooked, (+1!), lot’s of meat (+1!), and it was a huge portion (+100000!), I did have a bit of an inner dialogue as I tucked into my food.

First Bite: Oh yummy! Must not groan out loud
Second Bite: Oooh sausage, oh yes I’m going to eat you!
Third Bite: Hmm, this is getting a bit salty
Fourth Bite: *sips down half of my drink*
Fifth Bite: WOW, this is really salty

It was just so salty! I’m pretty sure it was all the cured meats or possibly too much sauce, but I was having yet another Sad Panda moment and didn’t finish my meal. I ended up trading with my sister after another bite or two, she agreed about the salt level. I wish they’d make a version of the jambalaya with some seafood in it, I think that sweetness would really help with the salt flavor from all the cured meats.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken: boneless breast w/ginger-vanilla sweet potato mash,
tasso ham cream gravy & Blue Lake green beans w/parmesan (15.95)

My sister and our friend Sytha both got this dish and it looked fantastic! My sister and I ended up swapping entrees (as we always seem to do) halfway through. The chicken, while the flavor was really delicious, the meat was juicy and nice; the outside much like the hush puppies, were overly fried to me. It was darker and had a slight burnt flavor I just wasn’t into, Sytha agreed that her chicken was over fried as well. I really enjoyed the sides though, mashed sweet potatoes and green beans had a great consistency to them, solid flavor and the ham gravy had the right amount of salt. I ended up just piling a ton of mashed taters on my chicken pieces as I ate. I was also surprised it was chicken strips vs on the bone. I love fried chicken on the bone

Baked Mac & Cheese: w/crunchy parmesan crust (5.95)

Really good!! I used to hate mac n cheese as a kid, that blue box stuff was so gross and I never understood how my siblings could love it. Angeline’s version however, was a baked and bubbly, breadcrumb crusty top with hot cheesy and tender noodle goodness! The girls and I scarfed it down pretty quickly, was too yum not to.

Angeline’s Bananas Foster Bread Pudding: w/rum caramel sauce (6.95)

I’m a huge lover of bananas foster AND bread pudding, so how could I NOT love this? I took one bite and the bread had a dense consistency, lot’s of custard soaked richness to it, but it was just too sweet for me. I only ate about 2 bites before the cloying sweet sauce got to me, but brought the rest home for my baby brother who scarfed it down and raved about how amazing it was.

Beignets – the New Orleans classic, light French style pastry pillows cooked to order and served w/powdered sugar (4.95)

THE BEST BITE OF THE NIGHT!! Seriously, the girls and I were bugging on how amazing they were! The best we’ve had in the Bay Area to date. Four pillow soft fried goodness in a bowl with tons of powdery white sugar love, it was just PERFECT!! I wanted more right away and have the craving as I’m writing this out right now. *sigh* Love = Angeline’s Beignets

The Aftermath!

Verdict? I have mixed feelings. I was disappointed in some of the dishes but loved others. I think I would come back, but only at lunch for a cheaper price and for a few things I still want to try, the only repeats I would consider ordering again would be the beignets, mac n cheese and the refreshing swamp water!

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