My BFF had her b-day celebration partially catered by Summer Kitchen + Bake Shop located on College Avenue in the Elmwood District of Berkeley. The idea of Summer Kitchen is offering local, sustainable, and seasonal foods for take out. Unlike what you think of as normal take out – Fast Food, Chinese food, picking up a pizza or a burrito, this is gourmet take out. Summer Kitchen was the perfect place for my friend to pick up food for her party. She wanted to serve picnic style foods that are able to be served cold or at room temperature.
The following items were ordered from Summer Kitchen:
- Fulton Valley Fried Chicken
- Herbed Orzo Pasta Salad with Cucumber, Peppers & Feta
- Summer Bean Salad with Kalamata Olive & Piquillo Peppers
The fried chicken smelled so good when we placed it in the trunk of my CRV. We hadn’t even driven one block on College Avenue before the fragrance forced us to each have a drumstick in the car. This is unlike the normal fried chicken that I’m used to. This was not temperature hot, the chicken skin was not crispy, and it was not juicy. This was picnic fried chicken and a very good one. It was well seasoned, tender, and had nice crunchy bits of batter.
The orzo was another good choice for picnic food. In general, I love the texture of orzo. Orzo is a cross between pasta and rice. It has the shape of rice, but it has a softer, smoother texture of pasta. I enjoyed the light herb flavor of the dill; and the cucumber, peppers, and feta cheese each added an additional variation of fresh flavor and textures.
I also enjoyed the bean salad very much. This was a last minute change, but a good one. The salad had a mixture of white beans and green beans with the addition of kalamata olives, peppers, onions, garlic, and olive oil. I liked the density and creaminess of the white beans and it matched well with the sweetness of the green beans. The other ingredients were also well infused into the dish.
Having opened last October, this is the first summer for Summer Kitchen. If you have plans this summer for a picnic or in general want good quality foods, don’t feel like cooking it yourself, but want to eat it at home, I recommend Summer Kitchen. This is not the first shop to redefine take out, another gourmet take out place I recommend is Gregoire that’s been in existence since 2002. They have two locations – one in the gourmet ghetto of Berkeley and one on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. I look forward to a summer of love.