Favorite New Restaurant for 2006?
The title says it all: what's your favorite place to open in 2006, and why?
My vote goes to 900 Grayson in West Berkeley. Unpretentious, comfort food featuring good ingredients and consistently stellar execution. The fair prices, generous portions, good beer on tap, and friendly staff keep me coming back again and again and again. I've brought about 30 friends to brunch here, and everyone has loved it. From the most sophisticated foodie, to the pickiest of eaters, from carnivore to vegan, 900 Grayson has universal appeal.
My favorite dishes are the fried chicken and waffles (get a side of maple syrup to bring it to the next level), the corned beef hash, the hash browns (truly, the perfect hash brown), the scrambled eggs with fresh herbs, the onion rings, and the hamburger. Order a side of market vegetables to round out your meal and don't forget a side of house made jam for your toast.
Open M-F for breakfast and lunch, Sat for brunch. Closed Sundays.
My vote goes to Vanessa's Bistro. I had to think for a bit because having moved, a lot of restaurants are new to me, but not new.
I like it because it is an overall feel good meal, with very good food, presentations, and service. I was getting to the point of suffering from "small plate nausea" at so many places, but it works well at Vanessa's. There are a number of reasonably priced wines that go well with the food. The full liquor service has or should be starting any time now.
Sorry I have to respectfully disagree with Vanessa's Bistro. I went and will not return. I will agree that the people are friendly and the presentation of the food is good, and the wine list is decently priced. However, the food was not very good. I went a few months ago and ordered some crispy ribs and ended up getting some crispy chicken wings. They were very nice and corrected the mistake but the ribs were hardly "baby back" ribs. Not sure what they were but not as advertised. I believe I had some halibut dish and the fish was way over cooked. I had some clay pot dish which was mostly bok choy and rice. There were a few other dishes we ordered as well but the flavors didn't work together or they weren't properly cooked, etc.
Also, the bar takes up nearly 1/3 of the restaurant and they only serve beer and wine. Glad to hear they are getting a full license to sell more than beer and wine. I didn't care for the layout of the place either. The kitchen opens up right into the middle of the dining area and the kitchen staff is constantly loitering in the doorway of the kitchen leering at the patrons, its very "off-putting".
Considering the quality of the food preparation I didn't think the prices were all that reasonable.
Bottom line: I wish them all the success in the world because they were such very nice people. However, I encountered too many other problems to rush back anytime soon.
re: Robert Lauriston
I was thinking of Perbacco, but that is probably only because somewhere in the back of my brain I was thinking that La Ciccia had been opened longer than a year, perhaps because I've managed to eat there so many times already...
So, I'd have to say Perbacco if I feel like getting dressed up a bit and heading downtown for a celebration, but La Ciccia in every other respect (food as good, lower prices, great and reasonably priced wine list, wonderful hosts), which means that the edge goes to La Ciccia, since, as I've said before, having such a place four blocks from home really is a dream come true....:-) (but yes, I always do make a reservation, even on a weeknight).
Honorable mention as new to me (though perhaps it really has been open more than a year) goes to Champa Garden.
Weird Fish. Love it. Love the ambiance and the good cheap fish. I found I like ordering lots of little things plus fish and chips and sharing. Really great thick crispy fries with the skin still on, and fried yo-yos (pickles). Everything was fresh and yummy. And they have spiced apple cider for only 2 bucks. can't beat that.
The best new restaurant I've been to is Nopa. But I haven't been to enough of the new restaurants to really form an opinion that ought to be taken seriously.