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lunch at Chez Panisse--rec. plz!

f
fdb Jun 17, 2007 09:31 PM

I have a 1:45pm reservation at Chez Panisse Cafe next Saturday. Is it possible to be out of there by 3pm? Please recommend your favorite menu items. Thanks.

  1. lexdevil Jun 17, 2007 09:34 PM

    Yes. Let your server know you're on a tight schedule.

    Cafe items change, but if there's fried chicken or bunny, you should be happy.

    9 Replies
    1. re: lexdevil
      f
      fdb Jun 17, 2007 09:38 PM

      bunny? you don't mean rabbit, do you?

      1. re: fdb
        AnneInMpls Jun 17, 2007 09:51 PM

        Oooooh - rabbit is delicious. I don't understand why most Americans have such a complex. Sadly, it means that rabbit is really rare and thus really expensive here. But it's worth it. I'd definitely go for the rabbit at Chez Panisse.

        Anne

        1. re: AnneInMpls
          f
          fdb Jun 17, 2007 11:01 PM

          I've had rabbit once before. To me it tasted like tender chicken. It's not bad but I wouldn't go out of my way to find it on a menu though. Since I'll be visiting CP with my daughter who doesn't eat meat, I would definitely pass on the rabbit this time.

          1. re: fdb
            lexdevil Jun 17, 2007 11:09 PM

            Does that mean you'll be passing on all meat, to spare your daughter's sensibilities, or just the cute, fluffy meat? If you're passing on all meat, your options will be limited, but Chez Panisse does do a nice job with salads. Also, one of the Pizzettas is usually meat-free (though they're not my favorite option). Other than that, you'll be looking at pasta (also not my favorite option). I do hope that you'll try something with meat, even if it's not the cute meat. I guess chickens and fish are a bit less sympathetic...

            1. re: lexdevil
              f
              fdb Jun 18, 2007 12:29 AM

              no cute & fluffy meat for me (or her)....the standard poultry, beef, pork, fish are ok for me. don't ask why but she eats fish/seafood which are considered non-meat to her. i guess many teenagers go through this no-meat stage....

              1. re: fdb
                lexdevil Jun 18, 2007 12:53 AM

                Then you'll be fine. There's always a fish, and the salads really are great.

                1. re: lexdevil
                  f
                  fdb Jun 19, 2007 10:14 AM

                  Any particular memorable desserts?

                  1. re: fdb
                    s
                    scenicrec Jun 19, 2007 11:43 AM

                    The lunch dessert menu changes regularly (daily?), and usually consisits of a fruit tart, a sorbet, something chocolate, and a bowl of fruit. The fruit tart- made with CP's fabulous "crunch dough"- is always my first choice.

        2. re: fdb
          z
          zin1953 Jun 30, 2007 06:05 PM

          bunny, Thumper, rabbit -- a cottontail by any other name would still taste as sweet . . .

      2. c
        chocolatetartguy Jun 19, 2007 11:17 AM

        Get sanddabs if they are on the menu! If none of the entrees appeal to you, order multiple appetizers.

        1. daveena Jun 19, 2007 11:56 AM

          If a salad has hazelnuts, order it. They get the best hazelnuts ever.

          2 Replies
          1. re: daveena
            f
            fdb Jun 29, 2007 07:14 PM

            No hazelnut was on the menu when we were there, but the spicy almonds were very good.

            1. re: fdb
              daveena Jun 29, 2007 07:20 PM

              Sounds like you still had a fantastic meal - maybe next time you come back, there will be hazelnuts : )
              Thanks for your report!

          2. c
            cliff4cal Jun 19, 2007 12:52 PM

            The staff is very knowledgeable so follow their lead. If this is your first visit, I'd recommend starting with the baked goat cheese salad which is a signature dish and has been on the menu since the start. I'd then follow with whatever is from the wood oven. I had the quail last Friday night which was amazing. The tomatoes are always special (they're never on the menu unless they're top notch). There is usually a prix fix menu for lunch however I'd avoid it unless you're on a budget or specifically want those dishes. My favorite lunch wine is the Bandol rose. If you get there early, stop by the Cheese Board across the street for a tasting...it's the top cheese shop in the bay area. Remember that service is included however I usually leave a little extra if it's above and beyond.

            http://www.chezpanisse.com/pgcafemenu...

            3 Replies
            1. re: cliff4cal
              f
              fdb Jun 19, 2007 03:01 PM

              Sorry to say that I don't eat cheese, but thanks for the wine suggestion. Sanddabs, hazelnut, tomatoes...are all my favorites. I'm really looking forward to this meal.

              1. re: fdb
                Robert Lauriston Jun 19, 2007 03:15 PM

                Second on the incredible hazelnuts and the canonical warm goat cheese salad.

                I've had a lot of "best ever" experiences of particular ingredients and dishes there. Since the menu changes daily, not so many repeats. Not since they took the calzone off the menu, anyway.

                Shame to rush in and out in only 75 minutes, though.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Mattdub Jun 20, 2007 02:36 PM

                  True, the experience should be savored.

            2. f
              fdb Jun 28, 2007 06:44 PM

              OK, we made it to CP Cafe last Sat. and did take up your advice to allot more time (2 hrs.) to savor this wonderful culinary experience! I have to say this is one of the most perfect meals I've ever had. It's up there with Michelin 3-star restaurants without the pretention and snob factor. We love every dish, every ingredient, the nice service, and cozy setting! Here's what we had among the 7 of us:

              starter to share:

              --Pizza with Tomales Bay clams and new garlic (I love this pizza more than A16)
              --Half Moon Bay squid roasted in the wood oven with gypsy pepper salsa (I only got a sliver of the squid but my daughter said it was very good.)
              --Cannard Farm rocket and zucchini salad with spicy almonds and smoked duck breast (this is incredibly delicious. I normally do not care for ducks, but the smokey flavor of this duck is just sublime. too bad there were only 4 slices.)

              Entree:

              --Local white sea bass with romano beans, beets, and aioli ( fish w/ the garlic aioli is very tasty. The veggies are so fresh and crunchy.)
              --Grilled quail and chicken salad with frisee, pickled onions, and liver toast (All the ingredients worked so well together. Pickled onions added just the right amount of tanginess. Very delicious!)
              --Braised Elliott Ranch lamb shoulder with shell beans, tomato, and pesto ( I didn't get to taste it but friend said the lamb was in a clear light broth/juice--ot overwhelmed by any sauce or seasoning.)

              Dessert:

              --Blossom Bluff Orchards nectarine and boysenberry tart with peach leaf cream ( yes, the pastry dough is fabulous. The fruits had the right combination of sweet and tanginess. So yummy! I could've eaten a whole pie but it only came a slice.)
              --Bittersweet chocolate pave with coffee chocolate-almond ice cream (This is probably the best chocolate dessert I ever had. Again it beats the chocolate budine tart at A16 by far. Not too sweet nor too rich. The ice cream is OMG to die for!!! )
              --A bowl of Ram Das Orchard Santa Rosa plums and Sierra Cascade Farm blueberries (We normally wouldn't order fresh fruits in a restaurant but I have to say I now have new expectation for blueberries. I buy blueberries all the time and eat them like candies, but I never had such sweet and flavorful blueberries in my life.)

              On our way out, I took a copy of their dinner menu. Wish I live closer by so I can enjoy this remarkable restaurant more often. My previous favorite meal is at Guy Savoy in Paris. Now I'm glad Berkeley is only a short hop from LA--no need to fly across the Atlantic for a "perfect meal"!

              1 Reply
              1. re: fdb
                grishnackh Jun 28, 2007 11:09 PM

                Thanks for the report! I am glad you had such a good time at this local [and national] treasure.

              2. a
                au lait Jun 29, 2007 08:12 PM

                Is the cafe food as good as the restaurant food?

                6 Replies
                1. re: au lait
                  Robert Lauriston Jun 29, 2007 08:26 PM

                  To my taste the quality's the same.

                  The dishes downstairs are often (though by no means always) more elaborate, with fancier presentation and more things on each plate, especially later in the week. E.g. upstairs you might get a duck leg and thigh with a vegetable, while downstairs you might get sliced duck breast fanned out on a plate with sauce, vegetable, and a duck liver custard.

                  On the other hand, many of the dishes I've eaten upstairs could have been on the menu downstairs, and to a lesser extent, vice-versa.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    f
                    fdb Jun 30, 2007 01:43 PM

                    I can't wait to return to charming Berkeley and to taste the dinners at this local (& national) treasure. I understand they start taking dinner reservation one month in advance, and there is only one prix fixe dinner menu each night. What if on the date of your reservation, they serve something you don't eat (say lamb?) Would they substitute with a different dish?

                    I only see menus for Monday dinners are available on the website. When do they publish their dinner menus for other days? And where can I find out besides going into CP personally (I'm not local)?

                    1. re: fdb
                      Morton the Mousse Jun 30, 2007 04:41 PM

                      Downstairs has a fixed menu. The cafe upstairs lets you pick your dishes. Both menus change daily.

                      If you don't eat a dish served on the downstairs menu, they will substitute something from upstairs. Though, this isn't exactly the most economical way to eat there, as downstairs prices are a bit higher.

                      Monday menus are published around the first of the month. The other days are posted on the website the week of service. This means that in most cases you have to make a blind reservation, and trust that the downstairs menu is to your liking.

                      1. re: Morton the Mousse
                        eatzalot Jun 30, 2007 04:56 PM

                        Monday downstairs these days the menu is simplified, isn't it?

                        1. re: eatzalot
                          Robert Lauriston Jun 30, 2007 06:10 PM

                          Monday, 3 courses / $50
                          Tuesday - Thursday, 4 courses / $65
                          Friday & Saturday, apéritif (often w/amuse bouche) + 4 courses / $85

                          You can substitute, but if you're a picky eater, it makes more sense to eat upstairs.

                        2. re: Morton the Mousse
                          f
                          fdb Jun 30, 2007 07:01 PM

                          Thanks. I just realize they do post dinner menus online....

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