There are three free things the Bear Transit has to offer (when the buses do come): a ride to and from campus uphill (free for those with a UCB ID), a lively chat between the bus driver and his or her favorite passenger (feel free to eavesdrop – even if you don’t want to, you have to – they’re loud), and a tour around downtown Berkeley, also happened to be the part cluttered with everything from restaurants to food trucks (if you have a free eye to wander). This last offer led to my finding of Azerbaijan Cuisine.
Although Alborz was shy of making the list of ubercmuc’s favorites, I thought I should give Persian food another try. After a winter shower, Fulton Street was sparkly clean. The trees shed another layer of their bright foliage. The breeze was quirky but not too cold. It was the perfect weather for a hearty meal in a nice restaurant. Like Alborz, Azerbaijan Cuisine shows great effort in designing an attractive, spacious interior. Plain white light bounces off mahogany surfaces and crystal wine glass, giving a delicate coziness that makes you smile softly and talk with care. But unlike Alborz, Azerbaijan Cuisine gives you house-baked pita bread for appetizer. It’s unevenly crunchy, light and mildly sweet, promising a satisfactory affair.
To make sure that we would go home with at least one full tummy, Mudpie pulled the safe card and ordered a serving of ground beef kabob accompanied by saffron rice. The chargrilled tomato on the side was arguably the most flavorful item on the plate.
As usual I opted for the most obnoxiously meaty choice on the menu – the Koofteh tabrizi (full description: “jumbo lamb meatball stuffed with dried plum, barberries, boiled egg and fried onion in tomato broth served with fresh berbs and bread – 14.95”)
Whoever made this must have dreamed of eating dinosaur eggs. I probably should have expanded my cavity as much as the frog in La Fontaine’s fable had swollen hers in order to store this gargantuan loaf of fare. Although the colors were inviting, if you’re not into bland food, this wouldn’t cheer up your palates. It was the first time I ever had to use both the herbs and the salt shaker on the table in a restaurant, with much liberty, still I couldn’t help but relating myself to a cow savoring golden bales of hay. Persian folks, being landlocked, seem to have built an appetite for meat-rich, sodium-poor diet. A strong cardiovascular system they must have.
To end on good terms, the dessert menu looks quite interesting. Perhaps one day I’ll come back for the bastani and the palloodeh. Ice cream doesn’t need salt, does it?
Address: Azerbaijan Cuisine (part of Eclipse Cafe)
2175A Allston Street (the corner of Allston and Fulton)
Berkeley, CA 94704
Update on August 9, 2010: This place is closed.