Wednesday, November 25, 2009

eats - chez panisse

finally had the pleasure of dining at the birthplace of california cuisine - chez panisse in berkeley. the main restaurant opened its doors in 1971 by founder alice waters, and is distinctively known for their fixed menu of what is most seasonal and fresh that particular day. the more affordable upstairs café was born in 1980 and is a nice alternative to the set menu.

since it was my parents' wedding anniversary last week, what better way to celebrate than with a great meal? here's a neat look at the downstairs kitchen, which was busy prepping for dinner service this evening. lunch is located upstairs, distinguished by an open kitchen along one side of the room.

here's today's menu and a quick recap of all the dishes at our table, which of course, i tried:

six hog island sweetwater oysters w/mignionette - tasting right out of the sea, citrus & buttery goodness down the chute.

cannard farm rocket w/roasted sunchokes, chervil & bottarga di muggine - simply prepared, i only wish there were more sunchokes!

hand-stretched mozzarella w/grilled jimmy nardello peppers, rapini & iowa prosciutto - balanced quite nice w/the sweetness of the fresh cheese and the acidity of the peppers

BN ranch heritage turkey cooked two ways w/pancetta, polenta & brussels sprouts - both white and dark meat here, balanced texturally by crisp nettle, creamy polenta & firm brussels sprouts.

grilled local opah w/saffron, cauliflower, currants, pine nuts, marjoram & toasted bread crumbs - this savory dish was highlighted by the fish being cooked to precision

penne rigate pasta w/pasture raised veal ragu & parmesan - wholesome goodness, it went even better w/some crushed hot peppers

pizza w/tomato sauce, eggplant & mint - so delicious one forgot that there was a lack of meat on this bad boy...

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