Not Your Average Corner Deli

Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen is located at 1475 Shattuck Ave. Open weekdays 9:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Call (510) 848-DELI for more information.





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For those that judge a deli or family-style restaurant by the quality of its lemonade or grilled cheese sandwich, I'd like to offer that you try a Ukrainian Blintze every now and then. Saul's Restaurant and Delicatessen ("Saul's Deli" for short) offers an amazingly fresh lemonade, a mediocre grilled cheese sandwich and a winning Ukrainian Blintze. That's best two outta three.

Don't judge this restaurant by its, well, barnyard-like outward appearance. Located on the far end of Shattuck, Saul's features young, friendly hostesses and waiters and a warm, inviting atmosphere. Red Chinese lanterns decorate the ceiling, and black-and-white framed pictures hang in neat rows on the walls. The ambience is clean and well-lit, and Stevie Wonder sings assuredly on the sound system.

Prices at Saul's range from $2.75 for potato latkes to $34.95 for the triple fish platter. This is good-quality food at medium prices, and it's likely that students will feel more comfortable making it a once-a-week or once-a-month food stop rather than a daily trip.

I ordered the Middle Eastern cold plate ($7.95) which had above-average hummus but a too generously seasoned tabuleh. Try the Ukrainian Blintze ($3.95 each) or the potato latkes served with house-made applesauce and sour cream ($2.75). They're big on taste but not at all oily or sloppy.

Be prepared to find foods with unfamiliar names and experiences. Saul's is more of a family restaurant, because adults typically love cured tongue ($7.75-8.95), Gotham Bay kosher hot dogs with sauerkraut ($3.75) or chilled borscht ($2.95-3.50). For the less adventuresome, try a chicken salad ($5.25), hot turkey pastrami ($7.50-9.50), or if you're in for a long brunch, get buttermilk waffles ($4.25) with two "strictly" fresh eggs done to your choosing ($4.75).

Deli sandwiches are served on your choice of rye bread, challah, pumpernickel, whole wheat, Acme sweet, Acme French or Kaiser roll. Sandwiches range in price from $4.75 for an egg salad on challah to tuna salad for $5.50. They come in "two prices for two sizes"-a Berkeley size ("modest"), and a New York size ("emphatic").

I tried the grilled cheese sandwich ($6.50) but if given another try, I would've tried the mega mushroom ($5.50), a pile of sauteed mushrooms grilled to perfection with cheese. The French fries ($2.95) at Saul's Deli were long and thin and less greasy than at other Berkeley area restaurants I've been to.

Saul's also includes an impressive list of smoked and cured fish, from whitefish to kippered salmon. I'm not a big seafood fan, but the fish here seemed fresh and promising. Try the fresh fish of the day (prices vary daily) for something you're sure to like.

Dessert was the best part of lunch. The chocolate pudding ($3.25) was so sweet I could feel a stampede of cavities coming over me. The rugelach ($2.25) was crumbly and moist and not surprisingly, gone quicker than you can say "potato knish." The chocolate chip cookies ($4.50 for three) were surprisingly soft and thick-and immediately devoured.

One word sums up the Saul's Deli experience-smorgasbord. You'll find a buffet-worthy array of hors d'oeuvres, hot and cold meats, smoked and cured fish, cheeses, salads and more there-definitely something for everyone.

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