The Café at Chez Panisse
April 1, 2014
On February 12, 2014, Herb and Dorie invited us to lunch at The Café at Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
The café occupies the upper floor of this fabled restaurant. The main room downstairs is only open in the evening, with set menus that change every day and with prices that increase during the week. Those menus for the week are posted in front on the fence.
The front part of the building was destroyed in a fire last year and has recently been rebuilt.
Dorie’s first course was
CAULIFLOWER, PRESERVED LEMON, AND MARINATED BEET SALAD WITH FRESH TURMERIC AND GINGER
She liked this and said that the fresh-crunchy textures were bright. She enjoyed using her sourdough crust to sop up the extra vinaigrette, which counterbalanced the natural sweetness of the beets.
The rest of us started with
HAND-CUT STINGING NETTLE PASTA WITH WILD MUSHROOMS, CRÈME FRAÎCHE, AND GREMOLATA
The nettle leaves flavored the broad pasta noodles. Their vegetable flavor melded well with the mushrooms and nutty crème fraîche. The gremolata sprinkled on top added some zing. This was a very good dish.
The main course for the other three of us was
FISH AND SHELLFISH STEW COOKED IN THE FIREPLACE WITH SAFFRON, WILD FENNEL, AND AÏOLI
The generous portion of seafoods was fresh and flavorful, nicely enhanced by its preparation, sauce and garnishes. We would have enjoyed a bigger serving of the excellent aïoli.
The service, pace, noise level and general ambience were all good. The meal was excellent, making us want to return to Chez Panisse in the evening on our next trip to the Bay Area. Thank you Herb and Dorie for the idea and the invitation.