Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94707 (510) 548-5525
Cuisine: completely upscale California with a French influence
Pluses: fabulous food; set menu means they allow you to just sit back and enjoy the meal
Minuses: none, given that you accept the price scale and can give yourself up to the chef's choices
Don't Miss: Chez Panisse
Prices: Monday, three-course meal, $35.00; Tuesday-Thursday, four-course meal, $55.00; Friday/Saturday, five-course meal, $65.00.
Price is per person and includes each course, coffee or tea and 15 percent gratuity; Seatings: 6:00, 6:15, 6:30, 8:30, 8:45, 9:00 and 9:15 p.m.
Overview: Reservations absolutely required, a month in advance for Friday and Saturday seatings
American Express, Discover, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa accepted
Completely non smoking
Wine and beer only
Fully wheelchair accessible downstairs; Caf» at Chez Panisse is not
For those of us who remember what it means, a meal at Chez Panisse is an "E Ticket." For those who don't remember, or never knew, a meal at Chez Panisse is a fantastic experience that you would be happy to wait in line for, even if that line was a month long.
Chez Panisse has been a landmark in Bay Area dining for over twenty years. Executive Chef Alice Waters has discovered and developed countless culinary ventures (Jeremiah Tower started at Chez Panisse and TKO Farms, an organic produce supplier, was founded by a CP alum). Her understated restaurant on Shattuck continues to present food that is delicious and beautiful -- true works of culinary art.
On my recent trip, the theme was Normandy. Our meal began with roasted almonds and Lillet, an apple aperitif. This delight was followed by Dungeness Crab Cake with Watercress and Celery Vinaigrette, Potato Ravioli with Chanterelles and White Truffle Oil and Niman-Schell Filet of Beef with Chino Ranch Vegetables and Olive Relish . The meal ended with a Crispy Crepe with Calvados Ice Cream and Saut»ed Apples. Brand-name ingredients are a Waters trade-mark: she finds and uses only the best.
I cannot begin to describe the inner peace that this meal produced. Every course was a miracle, every bite a dream. Our waiter was warm, informative and completely professional. Others in the Arts and Crafts-style dining room were equally as entranced.
Upstairs, at the Cafe at Chez Panisse, things are slightly different. The food is just as wonderful, but the menu is a la carte and reservations are accepted for early and late seatings. The hum of the crowd waiting for tables is inviting, it's as if you're all having this wonderful food experience together.