Everything Old Is Old Again

Among the entrees, the sturgeon ($18.85) is as taste-free as the oysters, with no discernible fragrance or particular texture and a cursory tapenade offering only minimal culinary respite. One would think that cioppino ($17.55), with its local lineage and rustic, seafaring character, would be a highlight at a place like Spenger's, but its broth is tepid and watery and its seafood, plentiful though it is, is dry and overcooked. The bluenose seabass ($16.95) is a dried-out, jerky-like disaster. Only the Atlantic salmon ($17.80), cedar-planked in the venerable Native American tradition and served with a sweet-tart berry sauce, retains its unique flavor and a measure of moist flakiness. In an atmospheric hint of the institutional, it appears that all entrees come with the same blandly mashed potatoes and boiled broccoli.

Location Info


Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto

1919 4th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710-1933

Category: Restaurant > Brunch

Region: West Berkeley


Open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Reserva-tions accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking lot. AC Transit: 9, 51, 65. Noise level: normal
1919 Fourth St. (at University), Berkeley, (510) 845-7771

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For dessert there's a crème brûlée ($5.90) that bears more resemblance to Jello Instant Pudding than the rich, creamy temptation that usually bears its name, while a chocolate truffle pie ($4) is reminiscent of the crab dip: It tastes more brown than chocolatey. There's also an unmemorable slab of apple pie ($5.70) and a pretty good, fresh-tasting mango tart ($5.25). Spenger's wine list is fairly eclectic and not unreasonably priced, heavy on the locals with a number of French vintages, most of them in the $20-$40 range. There are also 19 wines by the glass ranging from $4 to $9.

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