The Fried Chicken Sandwich @ Bakesale Betty, Oakland

Photo added in 2012: Not much has changed.

Bakesale Betty is one of those word-of-mouth, lightning-in-a-bottle lunch spots that might as well have a license to print money. Ironically, you might never even realize that the place was there, if it wasn’t for the line of people outside waiting to order their fried chicken sandwiches. The good news is that this lunch line moves rather quickly, and there are enough ironing boards parked out front for everyone to have a table (even though the restaurant has an Oakland address, Bakesale Betty feels like Berkeley through and through).

The fried chicken sandwich at Bakesale Betty is honest, but not transcendent. A busy crew behind the counter assembles the sandwiches with two pieces of fried chicken breast, which are beautifully battered, and a generous helping of coleslaw, which is dressed with oil and the slightest tinge of vinegar. The sandwich is served upon a small French roll, which can also be the vehicle for an egg salad sandwich or a brisket sandwich (the latter being a recent menu addition). These sandwiches are sold at an impressive pace, until they are finally sold out altogether.

For me, the Bakesale Betty’s fried chicken sandwich cries for a squirt of mayonnaise, or even more preferable, a slathering of simple remoulade. Perhaps these are my own New Orleans biases, but I believe that whenever you put something that’s deep fried between two pieces of bread, some type of sauce always helps to restore succulence and offset dryness. The coleslaw definitely helps in this matter, but it simply cannot carry the entire sandwich. However, if you can get your hands on one the small bottles of Frank’s Red Hot that are lying around, this fried chicken sandwich takes one giant leap closer to ideal.

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