Mediocrity at Downtown Restaurant (Berkeley)
The Vegetable Fritto arrived cold.
The Duck Confit was dry.
The service was clueless.
The pacing was terrible.
Worst dinner of 2007.
No more bar menu. They offer two "after eight" items which is just odd. An after eight *menu* draws in late night business (see: Fonda). Putting two restricted dishes on the regular menu just makes customers want what they can't have.
I wont be back. You shouldn't bother.
We go there before the Berkeley Rep on a regular basis. I was never really excited about the menu but the last few times we were there the food was much better than on previous visits. The grilled sardines were excellent. The Frito misto less so. The signature fried anchoy olives are always tasty and prove that they can fry something right. The place gets slammed by theater goers (just watch the exodus at 10 minutes till showtime) which has got to make service difficult, but still they seem a bit undertrained/unmotivated in this department. The wine list is usually well thought out though the constant rotation can be frustrating when a favorite wine goes off the list. We've had hits and misses at Downtown but the good still outweighs the bad for us. We shall return. (FYI, off topic,but Zabu Zabu is another fun pre-theater spot just down the street from Berkeley Rep.)
Zabu Zabu got a mostly very good review in the East Bay Express this week:
and mostly positive on CH as well, though at least one hound was not impressed with the service:
but I wonder if the communal cooking would work pre-theater: the East Bay Express at least implied that cooking it yourself could slow things down. Not necessarily bad if one is out for a relaxed dinner with friends, but perhaps an issue pre-theater?
All that said, I'd like to try Zabu Zabu soon. As I mentioned in another thread, I used to work across the street, and I sort of like its hidden, quiet location. (I used to lunch there when it was another restaurant two restaurants ago...)
As for Downtown, while I used to go there for drinks after workdays when drinks were in order and I worked down the street, but I never was thrilled about the food and certainly haven't found a reason to go there since I changed jobs and no longer am in the neighborhood every day...
2102 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
1919 Addison St Ste 102, Berkeley, CA 94704
Thanks, I was thinking of going on Friday before Berkeley Rep. Too bad about the bar menu. There really isn't much close to the theaters, especially if one is on foot, in the rain. It seems as though there should be.
Edit: Worst dinner of 2008? But who knows what awaits you...