You can find a great meal anywhere. But what makes the Bay area so unique is you can find a great meal under $10 anywhere. Bakesale Betty is one of the best examples of great inexpensive food. It is also a wonderful example of the cheerful and engaging service you often get in the Bay Area.
We went to Bakesale Betty as part of our day of East Bay food. Our plan was to hit Bakesale Betty for breakfast and go to the Berkeley International Food Festival and then hit the Berkeley Bowl. We could have ended the day at Bakesale Betty and would have been really happy.
Located in the Temecsal neighbhoorhood of Oakland (one of the zillions of adorable five block long neighborhoods in the Bay area), Bakesale Betty is a wonderfully informal bakery with a crazy crowd of people thronging the counter. Outside the bakery were ironing boards that served as tables. Rather than being irritatingly pretentious, this seemed like a efficient way to seat the large numbers of people coming through the doors. The people working behind the counter were amazingly friendly. They saw we were newbies and walked us through the menu. When they found out that we were newly arrived from Washington, DC they gave us a strawberry shortcake on the house.
Their baked goods are best-in-class examples of old time favorites – banana bread, oatmeal raisin cookies, scones, lemon bars. J had their apricot scone and it was a light and soft with a nice outside crust.
My strawberry shortcake was unique in its identity as a shortcake. It truly did taste like a cross between cake and biscuit. Moist with a nice crumbly biscuit texture and a decent amount of sweetness. It was surrounded with mountains of real whipped cream and barely-macerated strawberries. I loved the balance of the the strarch of the shortcake, the sweetness of the whipped cream and the tartness of the strawberries. It was a generous serving, enough to feed four people.
Bakesale Betty is earning a well-deserved reputation as having one of the best chicken sandwiches in the Bay area. The chicken breast is huge and incredibly moist with a light crunchy breading that highlights the flavor of the chicken. Complementing the chicken is a nice amount of coleslaw. But this coleslaw is made wth cabbage, jalepenos, shredded carrot, cilantro in a light lime vinaigrette. It was a refreshing alternative to the usual mayonnaise-based coleslaw. As an added bonus, the roll the sandwiches was enclosed in was soft, chewy with just a little hardness in the crust. The sandwich was out of this world and well worth going back for.
Beyond the actual eating, this was a delightful food experience that makes we want to return again and again.