Who knew that it was harder to get a reservation at Chez Panisse than the French Laundry? I had no idea that it was still so popular. We attempted to reserve a table for my birthday about 3 weeks prior but they were fully booked. The reservationist said I had to call exactly at 9am one month in advance, to the calendar date so that’s what we did. To Mike’s disdain my usual 1 week birthday would now last 2.
Chez Panisse is a Berkeley institution where famed chef Alice Waters creates her fabulous farm to table feasts. In the 70′s Waters pioneered the concept of preparing meals using fresh seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. The restaurant is located in an Arts and Crafts style house on Shattuck Avenue that is small and intimate. Each night they serve a new 3-4 course menu so you won’t know what you are being served until the week you have a reservation (you can check the website). If you are a picky eater and don’t like quail, duck or rabbit eating here may be a gamble for you. Mike and I are down to try anything so this was not an issue for us, but we ended up with a pretty safe menu.
Nov 19, 2011
Grapefruit champagne cocktail
Bellwether Farms sheep’s milk ricotta with fall vegetables and coriander vinaigrette
Roasted halibut with savoy cabbage and lobster butter
Spit-roasted Piedmontese beef rib eye with Beaujolais sauce, potato cake, chanterelles, and Cannard Farm salad
Black Mission fig tartlet with Chartreuse ice cream
Dishes were rustic and simply presented but service was a little stiff. I’m a meat and potatoes girl so course #3 was my favorite. They made beef melt in my mouth and a basic potato cake taste scrumptious. Mike and I both loved our meal. Chez Panisse lost its Michelin star in 2011 to many people’s dismay. If they are not deserving then I tend to question the guides’ ratings because it was more than a meal, it was an experience.
Note: if you are looking for a less formal (and less expensive) meal check out the upstairs cafe.