Regina had driven by Bacheeso’s (located on San Pablo and Dwight in Berkeley) many times and had always seen lots of people there, so when the question of where we’d go for brunch yesterday came out, she suggested we give it a try. It was a good choice.
We had to wait outside for about ten minutes before we got a table – though someone needs to stay inside to assert themselves when their turn is, they don’t seem to keep a wait list – but that wasn’t too big a deal. The restaurant is pretty small and crowded but convivial and quite child friendly. There were lots of parents with babies and toddlers around, though don’t count on a high-chair. I saw a very old one in the back, but I don’t think it’d have been practical to bring it to the table.
Bacheeso’s has a breakfast menu offering many staples (omelettes, french toast) and a lunch one with pastas and sandwiches. What draws many people to the place, however, is its brunch buffet which includes both breakfast and lunch items for about $9 ($5 for children). We all decided on the buffet which is why I’m not writing a formal review of the restaurant – we didn’t actually get to experience any of their “regular” food.
The buffet was actually quite good, not all items were great, but most of the food was at least a couple of notches above typical buffet faire. Apparently once upon a time they served a Middle Eastern buffet, but it has now become quite Americanized. One of the best dishes was chicken with BBQ sauce and their homemade mashed potatoes were a little bit lumpy but they rocked flavor-wise. Mike also liked the eggs and the pasta salad.
Their kebabs looked like long slices of meatloaf, but their was no mistaken their origen once you bit into them. They were moist and flavorful with a clear Middle Eastern spicing. The basmati rice didn’t hold up well under the juice from the roasted tomatoes, however.
A slice of what was either pizza or focaccia (the toppings had been fused together and were unrecognizable) tasted quite good, though it was a little tough. Indeed, all the baked goods suffered from a distinct lack of baking powder – they were flat and dense when they should have been fluffy. We encountered this problem on a chocolate cake (which otherwise tasted out of a box – not bad) and on the pancakes.
Other items were also lackluster, a roasted turkey was dry and Regina was underwhelmed by some of the other veggetarian options (there were several).
Desserts could have been better, but fresh strawberries with a chocolate swizzle were great.
The one thing that didn’t work well was the service, but the waitresses were clearly swamped. They were constantly going from one place to the other, so it was probably not their fault that we had to remind them about our drinks well after we were eating.
In all we had a good experience and felt that the food was a very good value. It’s probably not worth it for us to make the trek to go there for brunch again, but if we were in the neighborhood we might very well stop by again.
Bacheeso’s Garden Bistro
2501 San Pablo Ave.
Daily 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
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