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A College Student’s Guide to the Gourmet Ghetto Part I

posted Apr 21, 2011, 11:18 AM by Melissa Ou   [ updated May 6, 2011, 1:40 PM ]
by Samantha Giordano
Berkeley is home to a cult of pretentious foodies. Ironically, this diverse city is also populated by thousands of financially underprivileged and hungry students. Northwestern Berkeley, home to the famous and pricy restaurant Chez Panisse and the pizza shop with the cult-like following, Cheeseboard, has acquired the nickname, “The Gourmet Ghetto.” However one can travel past Hearst and still find a deliciously unique and equally affordable meal or snack.
2109 Cedar Street
This tiny French-American cafe offers delightfully satisfying cuisine seven days a week and was recently voted Best Overall Restaurant by The Daily Cal’s Best of Berkeley poll. Its menu changes every month and offers different choices for lunch and dinner. Gregoire uses only the freshest organic and locally-grown ingredients, which is practically required for a Berkeley-based establishment. Dinner is a little out of the typical college student’s budget, but April’s lunch menu ranges from $4.50 for the soup of the day to $9.45 for Catalan Farm red leaf lettuce with garlic & rosemary dressing and baked gulf shrimp. The majority of the menu consists of a variety of intriguing vegetarian and non-vegetarian sandwiches. The few that caught my eye include the scrambled egg sandwich with grilled asparagus and parmasan cheese on pantofolina, house smocked Scottish salmon with chive cream cheese on puff pastry, and (for the less adventurous) a fried buttermilk chicken filet with spicy cole slaw on a sweet roll. For only $8, my friend ordered roast beef with shallot and malt vinegar jam and aged cheddar on a sweet roll. The serving size was more than enough; she was able to take half home, in the typical student fashion, to eat later.

In addition to the main courses, there are potato options that remain on the menu every month. The crispy potato puffs are a favorite and one of Gregoire’s most popular items. Desserts with seasonal fruits are also offered. With nothing on the menu exceeding $10 and fairly quick service--one simply orders at the counter upon arrival--Gregoire is ideal for the student looking to treat their taste buds. Though there is little room to sit inside or outside of the tiny restaurant, its cute takeout boxes make toting your order around convenient. In the time it takes to order a mildly flavorful wrap at Qualcomm Cafe at noon, you can walk to Gregoire (about 15 minutes from Evans), and order a satisfying and slightly French lunch. But, be warned: the convenience, deliciousness, and ever-changing menu may lead to an addiction.
(Photo courtesy of Gregoire’s website)

Roast Beef Sandwich

(Photo by Samantha Giordano)