Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mini Dish: The Mixing Bowl

There’s been so much change in the Temescal neighborhood near my Oakland home that I think it may be the next Rockridge.

A couple of new restaurants have opened and another high-profile one is on its way. One of the new places is called The Mixing Bowl, which I visited with my friend Vera, who also lives in the hood.

The Mixing Bowl is in the spot of the old Temescal Café. I’d been to the Temescal Café before, not as a regular but on a few occasions. It was your typical café with free newspapers strewn everywhere and people on laptops next to emptied coffee cups with that tell-tale dark brown stain around the rim. The Mixing Bowl, just like its fresh bowls of vegetables and hand-made sandwiches, is the complete opposite.

I’m not sure what happened to the Temescal Café, but The Mixing Bowl is a welcomed addition. Its brightly lit room with handsome wood furnishings screams out quality. Sure, the food prices are higher than the old café, but it’s not that much different than comparable casual-dining spots.

You order at the counter and get a number. There are a lot of seats in this café owned by Grace Lee, who can be seen on the floor bringing food to customers’ tables.

They serve a bunch of salads and sandwiches and in the mornings sell breakfast burritos and baked goods. When I met Vera for lunch, I ended up ordering the first salad on the menu, which was a tamarind chicken salad with miso dressing. Vera got the pulled pork sandwich. (Prices range from about $7.50 to $8.50.)

I thought my salad was pretty big with a lot of crunchy vegetables and nicely cooked chicken breast slices on the top. This was pretty filling but the dressing was light. Even though it didn’t have a distinct miso flavor, it still had a nice Asian taste to it. It was more vinaigrette than creamy, but still mixed well with all the crunchy ingredients.

Vera’s sandwich, as you can see, came without a bun because she requested it that way since she’s on a no-carbs diet. I think it’s typically served in a soft bun. I was debating with Vera about how you can’t go wrong with pulled pork because all you do is slow cook some pork and then top it off with barbeque sauce. Vera pointed out that she’s had some amazing BBQ pulled pork where the taste can be complex if done right. I thought The Mixing Bowl’s version was nicely done but Vera thought it was just OK. (I’m still trying to figure out where she had that amazing BBQ pulled pork.)

There’s a real healthy element to The Mixing Bowl with a lot of fresh juices made by the staff. On the day we had lunch, the place had a special on aqua fresca, which Vera tried. I got a green tea-pear iced tea that was refreshing.

Opened since earlier this summer, The Mixing Bowl is still finding an audience. It was a bit empty when we first got there before noon, but it started to fill up in the next hour. Oh, and I did like some of the art hanging on the wall, which still gave it a café feel when it’s clearly turned into something more.

No rating since this is a mini review. But the food is fresh and service friendly, so definitely a nice place in the neighborhood for a light lunch or afternoon snack. I will be back.

The Mixing Bowl, 4920 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. PH: 510.655.5630. Open weekdays, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. (until 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays) and weekends, 9 a.m.–7 p.m.


David K. and Ann C.-K. said...

Living in the area, my daughter and I are morning regulars. They make a yummy cafe latte and am a big fan of the Tamarind Chicken Salad. Agree, this is a welcome addition to the bevy of new Temescal eateries.

Ann and Ella

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I went there and thought they were just so so. So so at high prices makes it just not worth it, at least not to me.


Anonymous said...

hmmm, sounds like a nice find - wish we'd get cool stuff like that over here in San Leandro... (like that is soooo never going to happen) The tamarind chicken sounds promising!

Ammie said...

Ah, good to see you finally went to The Mixing Bowl. The way places are opening up in Temescal, you'll be busy. Horseshoe next? :)

I'll have to branch out and try their other salads -- cheers for the recommendation. The soba noodle salad at The Mixing Bowl is my favorite -- lots of texture and subtle flavors, and very refreshing. My husband and I also love their BLT. Grace told me she gets a lot of her greens from her dad's garden. His heirloom tomatoes are out of this world.

I also love their scones.

And that's my good friend's art on the walls right now! :)

Single Guy Ben said...

Saudade, I love soba, so I definitely have to try their soba salad next time!

Anonymous said...

As for this being "the next Rockridge"... I read in the East Bay Express maybe 10-12 yrs ago that some rich guys bought a bunch of buildings down there and were deliberately developing it as the next Rockridge. I do like Temescal but it's not at all organic but planned that way for a long time.