Berkeley >Food & Dining > Chez Panisse Restaurant
1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA | Directions 9470937.879591 -122.268862
Neighborhoods: North Berkeley
One of my very favorites! – This is of the two best restaurants in the world I have been to (my other favorite is Babbo in NYC). The decor is warm and inviting. I have always been treated with warm, attentative, non-pretentious service, and have been floored, each time, by the freshness of the food and the depth and amazing combinations of the flavors. This is all the more impressive with the ever-changing menu. The wine recommendations are always excellent. In my experience (I have been here a handful of times), it is absolutely consistent in its quality. I have a friend who used to work in the kitchen, and vouches for the meticulous preparation of the food. Everything is hand-made. The experience of eating here is worth every penny.
I must sound like I work for them, but trust me, I don't! I'm just a poor graduate student who gets her parents to take her here every time they come to town.
Fine Dining! – From the low-lit candles to the warm hospitality, Chez Panisse definetly lives up to its reputation. We ordered the pork shoulder and the duck breast and were plesantly surprised by the tenderness of the meat and the flavors from both dishes. The service was wonderful and the meals brought to the table quickly and most importantly, very hot. We would definetly return at any opportunity.
fantastic – One of the five best meals I've had. Super service and ambiance, but the food is out of this world. Excellent all the way around.
Overrated – The interior was very nice but the food was bland and uninspiring. I do not understand why this restaurant is so highly rated-requiring reservations so far in advance. Sure, organic food is great and I believe in supporting that. But it must TASTE good. Very disappointed.
Intimate date spot – I visited Chez Panisse downstairs for the 2nd time last night on an impromptu blind date - it was the perfect spot. I had forgotten had intimate, cozy the downstairs space is. Exactly like eating in someone's dining room. Although the room was filled, you feel like you have your own little space, conversations are hushed enough and despite the cozy interior space, you still feel like you have privacy.
The food was amazing. So simple yet fresh and favorful. The herbs and light oils hint as well as emphasize. We started with eggplant wrapped over ricotta cheese salad - it was interestingly balanced. The eggplant and frisee were light and summery while the cheese gave it substance. The entree was quail kebabs, and while it was a bit tricky pulling the quail legs off the kebab sticks and trying to get the meat off the bones in a polite manner, the sauce and flavors were superb. Each dish came at the right time b/c after the main course, we were both feeling full. Dessert was a delightful summery concotion of fresh peach half drizzled with a cream sauce and fresh berries. Yum!
The date started a bit awkwardly but the food gave us an additional topic when there were those awkward pauses. Whew! :)
Simply amazing food – My husband and I have eaten downstairs a handful of times. The best food we have ever eaten was at Chez Panisse. The fixed menu is no worry -- even foods you think you don't like you will love there.
The winelist is impressive and reasonably priced, so you are better off ordering from it than paying corkage.
Not that "world class" – It was interesting that The Worlds 50 Best Restaurant 2006 list put Chez Panisse at #20 this year. After reading that and not having been (downstairs) for quite a few years we had to give it a try. I must confess that my expectations werent that high; however, Im sad to report that my experience was even lower that my expectations.
The Feuillete of asparagus was so underwhelming it could have been served anywhere. The most unjust was the lobster and razor clam risotto. The dish, lovely in theory failed miserably in practice. The actual lobster was overdone and its presence limited as was the dish itself. It desperately cried out for salt to give it a flavor above bland. The best dish of the evening was the Black Sea Bass with fresh fava beans and spring onion over a Jerusalem artichoke puree. Also disappointing is the wine list.
Over Rated – We went to the down stair's dining room for my birthday. Even though, we had a reservation, we still had to wait one hour for our table. After we had our dinner, we were all still hungry, we had to go to another restaurant for more food.
In addition, there were too many homeless people around the restaurant.
This place is very over-rated. Big disappointment.
Not Wowed – I've wanted to eat at Chez Panisse for years (We live in Texas) and finally got the chance. Although the food was nicely prepared, there were no spectacular dishes. Fresh ingredients prepared simply is nice but not worthy of top notch billing. My main beef - EVERYONE eats the same thing. Everyone at your table or any other table. You never see any variation. IMHO top notch restaurants have to be able to serve 20 or more perfect dishes each night. NOT 4. Sorry, won't be back.
No WOW, just solid cooking – Last Saturday our dinner was impecably prepared, but there was nothing on the menu that was innovative or in the least bit provacative. It was just simple flavors prepared at their most expert level. And yes, I was slightly disappointed.
The service was average. I would have liked the plates cleared a bit faster and I've had waiters that were more attentive about filling wine glasses. But we weren't hassled for bringing our own wine selections (as I worried we might be).
All in all, I won't be making a trip back. I'd always wanted to eat there, but was really hoping for more. There are a lot more innovative/interesting restaurants in the bay area. If you're looking for safe and impecable, this is it.
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