The only thing I really know about Emeryville — the tiny city by the bay adjacent to Oakland and Berkeley — is that it has a lot of new condo developments and it’s the home of Pixar.
It’s not a real dining destination despite the rest of the Bay Area being known as a draw for foodies. Still, there are some interesting places here and there, and recently I decided to check out a burger place called Bureau 510.
Opened by the same people who own the Summer Summer Thai restaurant just a block away, this burger joint has a modern feel with its contemporary wood décor while the menu reflects some Asian influences with several reinterpretations of Asian staples like the Vietnamese bahn mi and the Korean rice cake sandwich.
Both times I visited for lunch, since this place probably draws more the weekday business lunch crowd. (They do try to promote a happy hour, and this whole month they’re doing a “Porktober” fest to celebrate the pig, which seems to be an unofficial mascot.) While it was busy on a weekday, the Saturday I went was deafly silent.
The menu has a variety of salads, burgers, and other sandwiches — all presented in a fun concept. But maybe it’s too concept-like. It’s the kind of menu primed for franchising, but does the cooking deliver?
I liked the idea of ordering half salads, because at even the half order they’re pretty sizeable. The Caesar Salad ($5 half) was fresh with romaine lettuce and marinated white anchovies. An Asian-inspired buckwheat noodle salad ($6.50 half) had a light lime sesame dressing, but the noodles were all broken, acting more of a supporting role to the baby spinach.
I was intrigued by the Chips n’ Salsa burger ($9.5), which was a burger with tortilla chips, jalapenos, roasted tomato salsa, nacho cheese and butter lettuce. It was basically a meat nachos. It came out looking creative with a tortilla chip the size of the bun, but I didn’t feel the salsa had much kick to it, although the melted cheese gave it that nacho feeling.
Also, I had asked that the burger be done medium but it really came out pretty much well done. And when a burger is done, there’s no way of turning back. I didn’t get any slight pinkness or juiciness.
On the creative end, I tried the K-Pork ($8.75), which is spicy sliced Korean-style pork served with kimchi on a rice patty bun. The dish was a sloppy mess; there’s no way anyone can pick this up and eat it, especially when the rice “buns” were on the soggy side to start. Still, the flavoring of the pork was nice (although not super spicy) and I always love kim chi with my meals.
The Last Bite
Bureau 510 has a lovely open space and the service was great both times I went, but maybe it was because I went during lunch that I felt the kitchen wasn’t that great with executing the dishes. On paper everything sounds delicious, but what comes to the table are dishes where the chef seems to be following someone else’s steps as opposed to cooking like he’s been cooking it for all his life. It’s a better concept than it is reality.
Bureau 510, 5800 Hollis St. (near Powell), Emeryville. PH: 510.595.1000. Open daily from 11 a.m. for lunch; dinner from 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. thebureau510.com
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