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Page history last edited by Mark P 15 years, 4 months ago

Note that we've previously been to the restaurant part of Chez Panisse.


Chez Panisse Cafe Review


The Chez Panisse Cafe was very good, certainly better than our past trips to the downstairs regular restaurant section. The best dishes were the appetizers, which was surprising given that these were what we were least excited about when reading the menu. But everything was at least decent/good.


The meal started with the same addictive bread we had in the restaurant. With a soft interior and crusty exterior, accompanied by easy-to-spread butter that has just the right about of salt, it was very good and we talked about tactics we could take to try not to fill up on it. This was especially hard since the basket was promptly refilled when empty. One attendee remarked, "if this bread were warm, I'd be in heaven."


One tasty appetizer was an arugula salad (which they called a "rocket salad") with lemon dressing and the same salty, funky, and good almonds that we raved about from our last visit to Chez Panisse. Topping it was pecorino, a sharp cheese sliced into sheets.


Another tasty appetizer was a pizza of nettles, which look like small leaves with tiny steams, much like a shrunk version of broccoli rabe, and short ropes of ricotta, a soft light cheese. The crust was nice and crispy without being crunchy and had a nice dab of oil. The pizza was so good we deconstructed it and decided we wouldn't change a single thing.


Baked goat cheese with salad served as our final appetizer, in fact matching the quality of the other two. The warm slightly breaded cheese and the lettuce salad with slightly creamy olive oil-based dressing were both quite simple and simultaneously just right.


Our entrees were good but not as good as the appetizers.


The black sea bass roasted with "cucumbers and farro salsa, pickled beets, and aioli." Since I'm writing this quite a bit after the fact, I'm going to limit myself to what my notes say: "very good sauce."


The ricotta pudding souffle was our best entree, with the ricotta adding a nice lightness to the souffle, preventing it from being as rich as many souffles can be. Served with asparagus (sadly not the asparagus we raved about from our last time) and a good mushroom sauce.


Our third entree was a good leg of lamb served in slices and nicely pink in the center, accompanied by an assortment of vegetables (potato, artichoke, carrots, and olives) cut to the right sizes and quantities so that they went well together.


We ended with two desserts, both quite good. One was a (dark) ginger cake -oh so gingery- with caramel and cream. The other was a dark chocolate (bittersweet) ice cream topped with pecan crumbs served alongside something that could best be described as a crumby chocolate sugar cracker.


We had two glasses of wine, one 2004 Pinot Grigio Bolognani from Trentino, Italy that was good, slightly acidic, fizzy, and mild, and the other a 2003 Gigondas from Domaine Les Pallieres, France was also quite good, mild, and slightly sour. We also appreciated the tea list listed the amounts of caffeine in each. Finally, one person had a coffee, rated good.


Aside from getting to pick what to eat, the dining experience was much the same as our experience in the restaurant downstairs. The decor was similar, but the cafe was a bit more densely packed, resulting in a noisier and more-happening feel. Like downstairs, the service was quite good. This time we were impressed by one of the staff's water pouring ability, bending his arm across the table into the corner, around a lamp, and pouring down into a cup while avoiding a nearby wineglass, spilling nary a drop. And we got to see this skill again and again as our water glasses were refilled quite conscientiously.


Total was $50/person including tax and tip but not including drinks.


Original Announcement


Next Wednesday we'll venture to the Chez Panisse Cafe. We've previously been to the downstairs more-formal, fixed-menu part of Chez Panisse and were reasonably happy. The Cafe (upstairs) is less expensive and offers an a la carte menu, allowing us to order more of the type of dishes we like.



Call this a celebration of getting my masters of CS. Culinary Sensualism. Or Computer Science. Whatever. It's done. Is grad school done? I don't know. But speaking of acquiring the degree, I for once have drama (non-romantic) to share.

Please tell me if you would like to come.


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