Inhuman Eating Machine official rules and guidelines
(continued from 15.2)
Eating Day: STILL April 29, 2010
ELVE'S- 3214 Martin Luther King Jr Way- 12:42am- $7.99
Two sandwiches down and I wasn't the least bit full. I was looking forward to going to the new Double D's. Located at the very beginning of International Blvd., Double D used to be housed in what can be best described as an office for a hoarder who works from home in his own filthy chaos. There were stacks of junk and paper everywhere and lots of faded pictures on the wall. The owner would pass you your order through a slot in the metal door without any revelation as to where the food actually came from. The bbq in that place was consistently good; it was served in large portions and everything cost $5. Recently, Double D moved around the corner into the long-abandoned Casper's location on 1st Ave. Double D, formerly a take-out window only, now boasts a counter, tables, and an expanded menu. Prior to the session, I had eaten at Double D once or twice after they had relocated. The meat, although gristly, was still quite good and still $5. When I came here during the session, however, I had a rude awakening. The owner had instituted some ridiculous changes. Gone are the $5 orders. He now sells all the meat by the pound. No plate meals. No sandwiches. All meat is now sold by the pound. "Like a deli," the guy said. It sure as hell isn't $5/lb, and unlike a deli, he wouldn't sell less than a pound of meat. This restriction may have been instituted temporarily because the owner didn't have a scale yet, but it's ludicrous notwithstanding. People want meat, man! Eyeball it or something until you get a goddamn scale. If this is how Double D is going to operate, I don't need them anymore. I can understand why the guy might have to raise his prices, due to the increased overhead, but I don't need to go through all of that rigmarole just to get a little meat and sauce with a couple of slices of crummy wheat bread.
With Double D's off the table, I went and picked up Mitch to accompany Vinnie and me on some stops in Eastern Contra Costa County. He suggested that I first try Elve's. I was completely in the dark about Elve's. I had driven by hundreds of times and had no idea it was a bbq place. I guessed that it was a soul food joint specializing in overpriced fried chicken, like Nellie's in a smaller space and a crummier neighborhood. Elve's does have fried chicken and fish and some other soul food classics- all priced much more reasonably than Nellie's or that fancy-pants "California" soul food place on Mandela, which I want nothing to do with. Although they have a rather expansive menu (burgers and corn dogs, too!), Elve's specialty seems to bbq. How could this place have existed for so long without me knowing about it? I felt ashamed.
The proprietor at Elve's is a happy sort who moved much faster than your average Oakland bbq proprietor. This, paired with a couple of old video game machines, made me even more disappointed in myself for being ignorant of Elve's for so long. It's a small space and primarily a take-out establishment, but there are a few tables to eat-in, too. For 50 cents more than the cost of the lunch special at Chef Edwards, I got a big pile of saucy beef, beans, AND potato salad. And instead of the usual crap-slices of Dollar Tree 2/$1.00 wheat bread, Elve's serves their meat with buttered, griddled bread that approaches Texas toast territory. The meat was deeply beefy; seasoned, but not so much that it detracted from its corpse-like delectability. And there were little to no excess fat formations or connective tissues to be found. The sauce was thinner than the first two entries. While it wasn't as sweet or spicy as Edwards', the sauce complemented the beef perfectly and it tasted great on the bread and potato salad.
It takes a brilliant person to get the right balance between meat and sauce. One must not upstage the other. The two components must exist in a perfect symbiotic relationship. Where one has a weakness, the other must excel. The perfect sauce:meat duo works together as well as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Burns and Allen, and Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Elve's knows the secret. On their own, neither the meat nor the sauce here would be remarkable, but together, they harmonize to form something magical. I anticipate many future visits to Elve's to atone for my former ignorance of its existence.