Berkeley >Chez Panisse
The legend that rocked American cuisine continues to delight with simple farm fresh goods cooked into complex flavors. Simple elegance
Great gourmet without an attitude. Fresh, local and amazing. Menu changes daily, and is prix-fixe. Be prepare to spend a lot here. The presentation of the food is fantastic, it is delicious and never disappoints.
Outdated and Disappointing. I can see that this austere, locally sourced "plain" food was a breakthrough 30 years ago but so many other chefs do it so much better now, not to mention farmhouse trattorias and bistros in Italy, Greece, France and countless green markets across North America. It is food as political statement; the pleasure of the diner seems to be irrelevant. Perhaps a reaction to fussy, overly complicated and elaborately presented fine dining, the current fare at Cafe Chez Panisse is too artless, bland instead of honestly full flavored and downright stingy. A dish of fried Halibut consisted of a chunk of greasy fried fish, a small heap of celery root in a too-mustardy sauce with an unintegrated, harsh-tasting herb floating atop and a single (yes, just one), watery, flavorless new potato poised beside a puddle of starkly grassy, pureed parsley that tasted like cow spew. Missing was any brightness or liveliness of flavor or any full or earthy flavor either. Bread was good but the butter was strictly supermarket. The much touted triple-filtered drinking water was dusty and stale tasting as if a glass of nighttime tap water had sat beside your bed all week. The toasted almond ice cream had a good texture but the unappetizing, charcoal taste of burnt nuts detracted. The accompanying cookie was so hard, I was relieved my dental work survived. The citron green ice tea was a unappealing although probably good for you. The tea tasted like scrapings from the side of a lawn mower.
I ate here twice in 2007 and both times I had incredible meals. The first time I had an arugula and shaved fennel salad with grated bottarga which was so simple but delicious. A wood fired dish of calamari and chickpeas was divine. The calamari was amazingly tender and the chickpeas held their shape but practically melted in my mouth. I also had the most memorable dessert of my life here (and I'm a pastry chef.) Candied rose petal ice cream with Lucero farm strawberries. Doesn't sound like much, but the combination of the fragrant rose scented ice cream and the sweetness of the berries was mind blowing.
The first time I ate here, it was Saturday lunch and the service was so so. Our waiter was technically good, but when I asked him what part of Italy one of the whites I was unfamiliar with was from, he said he would check and when he came back said, "The bottle didn't say." Hmm.. My second meal, a weekday dinner, was much better service wise. Our server was gracious and very knowledgeable about the wine list, and made my dinner companion and I feel special.
The food here is gracefully prepared with finesse and honesty. I look forward to eating here again and again.
Completely over-rated. Chez Panisse Cafe, which sits above Chez Panisse, is marginally better than the restaurant. In both the cafe and the restaurant the service is bed and the food is over priced. However, at the cafe you at least get to pick which over priced meal you want. Seating is tight but cozy. There is no bar so don't plan on a cocktail before dinner. Goat cheese salad appetizer was very good, but the pizza appetizer was too much food. The tuna entree was very tasty but the steak was underwhelming. Additionally, the entree was served immediately after the appetizer plates were cleared so there was no time to enjoy the wine between courses. There are much better places and much better prices in Berkeley.
We used to love you... what happened?. My family and I ate there this Wednesday and were very disappointed. Over the past few years we have eaten in the Cafe and Restaurant several times and felt that it was well worth the hype and price. The other night, however, our experience in the Cafe was very mediocre. Before, it seemed like both the service and food were well calculated and top notch. The lincod with scallops was served cold (it tasted like it was sitting around the kitchen for awhile before it reached our table) and the spaghetti with sqid was bland and all of our dishes lacked the usual amazing fresh garnishes (the short rib and polenta were pretty good though). For dessert, our pudding tasted like it could have been bought from Whole Foods and the apple tart was different (in a bad way) than before. Our service was terrible (he more concerned that everyone's watercup did not go past the half way line)... we waited a good 20 minutes to put our order in (and we had to flag him down) and it took us a good 10 minutes to get our check after our dessert. I'm hoping last night was a fluke, but I do not think I will be going back for long time... has anyone else experienced this lately? What happened?
California cuisine in its purest form headlines this upstairs a la carte cousin of the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant..
Located upstairs in the same wood-paneled Craftsman bungalow as Chez Panisse, the Cafe is where Berkeley's literati toast their successes over rustic French- and Italian-influenced cuisine. The welcome is always warm and the burnished open kitchen, lined with glistening platters of asparagus, Meyer lemons or heirloom tomatoes, is guaranteed to make even the longest wait worth it.
The a la carte menu changes daily, with scrupulous attention paid to the subtle gradations of the Bay Area harvest year. When the first fava beans appear in early spring, you'll find them here, followed by sweet peas, king salmon, tomatoes, corn, persimmons, oysters, blood oranges and other seasonal delights. For starters, typical antipasti plates come with firm, milk-sweet Bellwether ricotta, slow-roasted onions, prosciutto and black olives. Entrees often include thick slices of spit-roasted pork melded with dense yellow polenta, or a juicy chicken leg with morels and asparagus.
yummy!. Chez Panisse is fresh. It's all about taking simple ingredients and making it into healthy, fun food! Alice Water is amazing. For my appetizer, I had a dungenous crab salad and it was spectacular. For the who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, I highly recommend getting a bottle of grape juice. I swear it tastes just like wine.
Best food in California.
My wife and I are well traveled and well eaten to say the very least.
We are lucky enough to have sampled culinary exellence the world over and are consistently disappointed with California's offerings.
That is, until we visited Chez Penisse on the advice of a friend.
Harking originally from London, where good food is expected and often found, we felt like we'd come home.
Sophisticated, innovative, delicate and tasty are just some adjectives that go a little way to describing what a remarkable eating experience this restaurant offers.
The food is essentially simple but never fails to hold your interest.
We started with a salad and raw halibut, both outstanding in their respective finesse.
I had the duck to follow, the best example of the meat I've had the pleasure to have tried in some time, while my wife chose the king salmon which was served with a mint, chive and cream sauce. It was heavenly, as were the glasses of wine that were available on the 'mini' menu. We did not order a bottle as we were driving. Luckily, I was the designated drinker and was able to enjoy a fine Cote du Rhone followed by a charming Moscat-de-Beaume-de-Venise to accompany my 'affogato' coffee and ice cream desert.
In short, I can't recommend this restaurant highly enough, given that I live in Los Angeles, where one can drive 50 miles, bend over backwards and still often end up rather disappointed with the meal you get at the end of it.
Book early and enjoy!
It's still good over the years but expensive.
I've been there 3 times over many years. It lives up to its reputation. But i think it became overpriced. Last time i had a stew of calamari, amazing with its flavors and freshness. I'm not a calamari-octopus eater, but i was intrigued by that dish. Hats off!
My friend had a kinda sauerkraut with homemade sausage (very good) and roasted of pork (still pink!) I wasn't used to pink pork, but my friend told me that it's common.
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