The good, the bad, and the fried

James Macias, Reporter

 

Taste is what brought me out this weekend to the Kern County Fair – the taste of food. I am quite fond of eating, so this was a perfect assignment for rating food – and some drink – at the fair.

For each place, I gave an overall score of up to 10, and then rated some individual choices up to 10.

I gave one establishment a 10, and it doesn’t even serve food. The Beer Saloon, instead, has beer on top of beer with beer next to beer and beer underneath. All along one wall there are large flat screens perpetually showing “the game” or at least a game.

Throughout the somewhat cavernous room, giant industrial fans have been attached to the cross beams and are kept at full blast. The temperature in the saloon is easily 10 or 15 degrees lower than it is outside. This particular bar serves Chelada and a couple of other brands that are not commonly available throughout the fair.

Peter Castro is the man behind The Beer Saloon bar and he has worked in the beer industry his entire life. A Bakersfield native, he has been selling beer at the fair for 31 years and selling beer in general for 40 years. He has worked as a beer wholesaler for Advanced Beverages here in Bakersfield. His past credits include six years at Miller and 20 years at Coors.

“I just love the business so much and I’m trying to stay involved any way I can,” he said.

Here are scores for separate categories: food 0, seating area 10, beverages 10, atmosphere, 10.

SLEEK GREEK

The best food, by far, was lamb gyros at the Sleek Greek. They were flavorful with a slightly tangy note and a gritty texture.

The Traditional Greek Fried Combo costs about $13 (or $9 for just a gyro) and is a gyro with some feta smothered fries. The fries are not too crispy and are mildly seasoned.

I found the environment to be adequate and the cook, Kara Moe, 29, to be quite pleasant.

She says that following the fairs operating her aunt and uncle’s mobile food festival is not like making a traditional living. “It’s a different life,” she said. She has been coming to the Kern County Fair for four years and says it has become the highlight of her year.

When asked if there was anything about the fair life that she truly hated, she smiled and said, “I hate the 14 hour days. It can be a little grueling.”

Overall score: 9. Categories: lamb gyro 10, feta fries 8, feta 9, seating 0, beverages 0.

GOLDEN WEST WOODPIT BARBEQUE

This establishment was very clean and well-maintained with a courteous and attentive staff. You will recognize it by the fence, which defines its private dining area.

The dining area consists of round tables with colorful umbrellas and the combination of these umbrellas and the proximity of the two nearest buildings conspire to keep it pretty much immune to direct sunlight.

The atmosphere is relaxed and one can bring food in with him without fear of ejection.

Sandy Kasinak, who was very cool and laid back, is one of those people who radiates this self-confidence. She has been on the fair circuit since 1981 and says she loves to travel. Hailing from San Diego, the heat was the only complaint she had about Bakersfield. ”Being from San Diego, I really don’t appreciate the weather.” Kasinak said.

The Golden West Woodpit Barbeque bears this much description because their food was amazing. I had the ribs. They were juicy and just the right kind of greasy. Their sauce was tangy and had exactly the right contrast of sweet notes. The meat I ate seemed perfectly cooked, but then I like my meat a little more rare than most so if you like it well done you should probably speak up when you order.

The coleslaw had your typical mix of flavors except it had a very agreeable note of black pepper, which did not overwhelm the pallet.

The baked beans held a pleasant experience as well. I came back later and tried a few other menu items but trust me the ones that really stood out were the ribs, the cole slaw, and the baked beans.

Overall: 8. Categories: seating area 9, ribs 9, cole slaw 8, beans 8, beverages 0.

OTHER PLACES

Big Bubba’s Bad-Bar B-Que gets points for style. Their operation has a prime location and they have decked it out with all the stops. Here you will find shaded, fenced seating, which is situated away from the main throng of human mass. Their staff is friendly and polite and attentive.

With their giant, flamboyant sign you would need to be blind to overlook them and even then someone would defiantly tell you about it.

In the category of things to avoid we have: The Hot dogs! On A Stick Or On A Bun, trailer, which left something to be desired. While they were by far the most generous vender present, their food was not so pleasant.