Chez Panisse

Growing up in the Bay Area and being a wanna-a-be foodie, how can you not hear about Alice Waters? Years ago I read her autobiography, The Art of Simple Food, and vowed that someday I would eat at her restaurant.

And it took a few years, but something happened this last year that caused My Sweetie and I to celebrate. We only took half a second to decide to commemorate at Chez Panisse.

One Saturday in the fall, we descended into Berkeley.

And as I had read, the entrance was very non-assuming.

When we made our reservations a month ahead, we knew we wanted to try the Cafe. Many online reviews, surprisingly, had rated the Cafe higher than the downstairs restaurant.

The Menu that night:

One thing we noticed right away was that the date was incorrect on our menu. We asked our waiter, and he assured us that it was the correct food, but the date was wrong. He went immediately to his manager, and within 5 minutes, all patrons were handed hot-off-the-presses menus with the corrected date. Our waiter ceremoniously tore the wrong menu in half.

Since we were celebrating, I ordered an apertif.

I do like more sour, bitter drinks and the description that our water gave, fit this Carpano Antico.

I found this drink so delicious.

We decided to split a salad, and chose the Cannard Farm chicories that came with marinated beets with preserved lemon, sheep's milk ricotta, and green coriander vinaigrette.

There was so much flavor in this dish. One minute the pungent greens were on my tongue, only to be softened by the ricotta and preserved beets.

Onto the entrees. My Sweetie decided to get the Buttermilk-fried gulf shrimp with parsnip puree, green beans, and salsa di dragoncello.

He also followed the recommendation of our waiter, and ordered a local beer - Trumer Pils.

His shrimp was crispy and hot and the presentation nicely done. The green beans were cooked perfectly and still had a bite to them. In my opinion the parsnip puree was amazing, and made me want to try my hand at making it when I got home.

 I chose the Grilled Magruder Ranch sirloin with potato and celery root gratin, spinach, and black olive butter. I also had a glass of Chez Panisse's very own Zinfandel.

 I was a little disappointed with my dish. The spinach seemed very salty to me; so much so that it was almost overpowering at times. And the gratin was okay, but did not have much flavor. The steak was cooked exactly how I asked and was very good.

We decided to split the dessert. We knew that Chez Panisse is known for their galettes so choosing the Pink Lady apple huckleberry galette with vanilla ice cream was a no brainer for us.

This was a scrumptious dessert. The crust was nice and crispy and the filling perfectly done. And there was just the right amount of huckleberries to add a touch of sweetness to the apples. Paired with the thick ice cream and this the perfect ending to this meal.

Our plate, after consuming the deliciousness.

With our dessert we ordered coffee for two. This came brewed in a french press, which I thought was a nice touch.

So, what did we think? The service was very attention detailed. There were multiple waiters helping us, with the manager bringing our food out and checking to see that we were satisfied. While I was a little disappointed with my meal, I know that a chef can have a bad night, and overall we really enjoyed our time at Chez Panisse.


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