Eat Like a (Lucky) Berkeley Student!

Categories: Berkeley

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By Meredith Brody

For years I've been parking on Bowditch Street in Berkeley and hiking a few blocks north to the Pacific Film Archive, passing a intriguing-looking modern glass-walled student cafeteria that I sometimes stopped in to get a quick cup of Peet's. I thought it was called The Den, because that's the sign I saw out front.

I've always loved cafeterias; there even used to be some more-than-decent ones in LA, including Clifton's. My goddaughter Anna was a student at Berkeley, and arts editor at the Daily Cal, a few years ago; she wanted to sneak me in to the student eatery so I could write about the place, but it never happened.

But now, it turns out, civilians can sample the fare at the intriguing glass-walled building, which turns out to be called Crossroads; the Den, which features a Peets coffee stand and pre-made sandwiches and salads, is only a section of it. Crossroads, the website tells us, is the first green-certified building on Cal's campus and the nation's first organic certified kitchen on a college campus.

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For $8 at breakfast (served Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.), $9 at lunch (served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), $10 at dinner (daily from 5 to 9 p.m.), you can take your pick from nine different food stations, including world cuisine, Mexican, made-to-order deli, 100% organic salad bar, comfort foods, vegetarian/vegan, grilled entrees, and baked goods, with daily-posted menus.

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(Crossroads interiors)

And you're not just going to be offered pizza...

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made-to-order deli sandwiches...

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or comfort food...

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(Student with grilled chicken Caesar salad, barbecued chicken, barbecue beans, and cornbread)

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(Another tray, with chicken Caesar salad, spaghetti Bolognese, an apple, and a banana)

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(Baked goods (all organic) at Crossroads)

...but also sophisticated dishes from a celebrated Indian chef, Suvir Saran, with a popular and honored New York restaurant, Devi, and two cookbooks, Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, and American Masala: 125 New Classics From My Home Kitchen.

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At the American Masala food station, where a monitor shows images from Saran's upstate New York farm, kitchens, and teaching sessions at Napa's Culinary Institute of America,

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students line up to try such daily-changing dishes as...

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a juicy Indian-spiced lamb burger...

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shrimp curry served on rice...

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and lamb biryani.

Saran visits Crossroads frequently to teach the staff new recipes. "They now have 140 that they can rotate, which, I tell them, is more than we have at Devi!" On an earlier visit, I tried a lush, fragrant, creamy fresh corn curry, which was not only one of the best things I've ever tasted, but has haunted me ever since.

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(Crossroads' American Masala chef Suvir Saran, with Ida Shen, Assistant Director and Executive Chef, and Shawn LaPean, Director, Cal Dining)

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(Chef Suvir Saran)

I'm going to bookmark Crossroads' menu page and stop in again soon - whether or not the corn curry is listed! Crossroads may overtake the Pacific Film Archive as the chief reason to park on Bowditch.


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