Little Plearn

Shattuck and Channing. This is the companion restaurant to the main Plearn on Univeristy. It’s a cute little Thai restaurant and one of the better ones, I think. Last time I went I got the Pat Kee Mao, which was spicy and tasty. The service is a mixed bag, so if you’re in a rush, it might not be the best place to go, but the food is good, and they do take out as well. The only trick is that it’s cash only. But ATMs abound in Downtown Berkeley.

Dinosaurs!

I found out today that Berkeley has a palontology museum that is a federal repository and the 4th largest collection in the country or something. This is awesome! I’m gonna have to go sometime and check it out.

The OED word of the day is “AOR,” or album oriented rock. Again: who picks these words? What ever happened to learning obscure vocabulary like “gemellion — One of a pair of basins used for washing the hands before meals, the water being poured over the hands from one basin and caught by the other; hence, any decorative basin?” Apparently the word of the day is supposed to turn you into a musical hipster. I just wish they would kick it old school.

Not Lovecraft

H.P. comes out this week, and the Guardian is sponsoring a contest to see who can come up with the closest thing to the first 350 or so words of the book. I’ve already reserved mine at a bookstore in SF (in retrospect, probably a sub-optimal strategy, since that means I have to wait an hour to get it). I think it will look good on the shelf next to “Random Processes : Filtering, Estimation, and Detection.” In fact, I think HP6 should be “Harry Potter and the Annihilating Filter.” I’m sure it would sell lots of copies — Rowling could get it published by the IEEE and charge $150 a copy.

The Daniela Mercury concert was pretty awesome, all told. Unfortunately, I don’t know any Portuguese, so I have no idea what she was singing about. But I could usually sing along with the chorus by the 3rd time. Now all I have to do is learn how to dance and then go to Rio. And make sure I’m wearing the appropriate soccer jersey. GOOOOOAAAAAAALLLL!

Cancún

Thus far, after one year, Cancún has my vote for the best burrito in Berkeley. Unfortunately, it’s about a buck or two more expensive than other other places, but in my opinion the selection outweighs the cost. Here you can find mole, nopales, and other burritos that aren’t at the other places near the Berkeley campus. They also have 3-4 different agua frescas available, which is the perfect way to cool off after a hot day in the sun. To top it all off, they have about 12 different salsas to choose from. If you go there for the first time, I recommend trying as many as possible. Most of them are pretty tasty, but watch out for the ones that say they’re spicy!

I want to axé you a question…

Leo McKern is an awesome actor, and he’s looked the same for his entire life it seems. I mean, he played Gloucester in Laurence Olivier’s King Lear, was the villain in Help!, and (my favorite) played Rumpole in Rumpole of the Bailey. The only thing that seems to have changed is his hair, but from 1967 to 1997 he looked the same. It’s a pity he passed away last summer.

I’m going to see a concert of axé music, which is contemporary Brazilian music from Bahia. It’s part of the Stern Grove festival, which is free concerts through the summer. I read up on it a little today — after all, you’re supposed to learn something new every day.

Just picked up Hail To The Thief today, and I’m not passing judgement on it until I listen to it 2-3 more times. I have to make the decision between “really good” and “damn good.”

We Be Sushi

538 Valencia, between 16th and 17th. Another one of those cheap sushi places. The menu is pretty standard, except for the prices. I wouldn’t plan an evening around it, but as I’ve said before, it’s pretty hard to argue with cheap sushi. There are better places to go around here, but they’re more expensive. If you find yourself in the Mission on a budget but want sushi, this place will satisfy.

Ti Couz

On the corner of 16th and Valencia. Ti Couz specializes in crepes as they are made in Bretagne (Brittany, for the non-Frenchies). They are whole-wheat and kind of crisp, not like the white chewy crepes you get elsewhere. It’s a build-it-yourself kind of place, so while you can get a pretty filling crepe for under $10, you can also go all out and pay more. I had egg, ham, cheese, and caramelized onion, and it was pretty yummy. Jordan had a bok choy and shiitake mushroom with gingered cream on top, which was also pretty tasty.

They also have a pretty wide range of drinks, alcoholic and non. It’s not a budget place to eat until you’re stuffed, but for brunch, an early dinner, or a dessert (open until 11), Ti Couz would be a pretty good bet.

Tako Sushi

On Telegraph between Durant and Channing. Tako Sushi has some pretty good special rolls that make for a good lunch. I’ve been to Tako for lunch and dinner — the dinner options are a little expensive. The only major problem I had was that the service was a little slow. They don’t have the best sushi by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s fresh, and for less than $10 how can you say no?

Caffe Delle Stelle

On the corner of Hayes and Gough. I went here with some friends before going to the opera. If you plan to eat here and catch a performance, come more than an hour ahead or just plan for the pasta, since it is usually pretty busy and the meat dishes take a while to prepare. It’s a pretty nice Italian restaurant with reasonably-priced entrees. There’s a prix fixe for $20 which is worth it if you get one of the more expensive entrees.

I had a fusilli with grilled chicken, asparagus, peas, and mushrooms. It was a generous serving, but not too much, and was not weighed down in sauce, which was a pleasant surprise. It was a little heavier on the olive oil than I expected, but it wasn’t oppressive. The bread they serve comes with this tomato tapenade that is really tasty — it’s a pity they don’t seem to have an “infinite bread” policy. The others at my table got a fettucine with sun-dried tomatoes, crab ravioli in a tomato-cream sauce with brandy, and squash ravioli. The overall judgement was that they were pretty good, but not mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination.

All in all, a decent place to go before a program at the symphony or the opera. There are a lot of other good places in Hayes valley though, so it’s more a matter of what you are in the mood for. If you want Italian for under $15, Caffe Delle Stelle is a pretty good bet.