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Feb 16, 2009 06:29 PM

Dinner at Digs Bistro

Last night three friends and I had dinner at Digs Bistro, in southwest Berkeley. I haven't seen a lot of posts on the board about it, so I thought I should write it up. Overall, we had a lovely time.

We elected not to order wine with our meal, which I think was hard on the waiter. DH did order a liter of Pellegrino, but we were asked several times if we wanted wine. Besides Pellegrino there was only one non-alcoholic choice on the menu -- Vignette Chardonnay soda, which I've had before and don't particularly like.

We all ordered appetizers. One friend ordered the charcuterie platter. Unfortunately, I don't eat anything on it, so I didn't try it, but it looked great. There were about 8 different meats, and about half of them were house cured and/or smoked. The waiter did a great job explaining the sourcing and process for each of the items on the plate. It was served with crostini, apple raisin chutney, mustard, olives and pickles. Our friends enjoyed it, the highlight was the housemade bacon. Another friend ordered the piquillo peppers with crabmeat, which came with a salad. I didn't try it, but she liked it. Another ordered carrot soup, which was creamy and served in a large bowl. It really needed salt, and it was annoying that we needed to ask twice. I had the beet and blood orange salad with green and feta. It was exactly as described. The beets were tiny and just lovely. There were just a few supremes of blood orange, but the cheese was very tangy.

For mains, I ordered the vegetable pot pie, which was the only vegetarian main available. It was served in a large ramekin, with crispy puff pastry on top, and served with a small lightly dressed salad. I quite enjoyed it; it was classic creamy comfort food, but I felt like it was missing a little spark I could't put my finger on. DH had the butternut squash flatbread appetizer -- he didn't want potpie, and the only fish on the menu was a shellfish cioppiono which he doesn't eat. The flavor of the sage was very pronounced, but it was very good. Friends had the hangar steak with mushrooms and the roast chicken with brussel sprouts panzanella. Both enjoyed them a great deal. The panzanella came without breadcrumbs for some reason, but she didn't realize until she was almost done, and she'd really enjoyed it, so it seemed pointless to mention it.

Each of our friends ordered a dessert wine. DH and I had decaf coffee and tea. Friends ordered a sundae with Twin Girls vanilla ice cream and a praline sauce/topping that was really good. DH ordered the blood orange curd trifle, which was flavorful, but overly creamy for him and (to me) surprisingly small. I ordered a chocolate peanut torte with strawberries. It was served with a cinnamon creme anglais. I was surprised by its appearance, it was a (gigantic) slice of flourless chocolate cake with the peanuts ground into it. With hindsight that made perfect sense, but I was expecting something creamier.

We had a lovely time. We were seated in the side room which was quiet and cozy. Total was $150 before tip. We would definitely return to this neighborhood joint, especially as the menu changes weekly.

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  1. Thanks for keeping this in Chow radar. It gets too little attention and even I forgot about it. Hope they are doing well. The limited menu is sometimes one of the things that put people off, but what is there is very good.

    Digs Bistro
    1453 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94702

    5 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      Are they still doing the Monday night babysitter thing? Last time I was there last
      fall they were serving a special kids menu to the five kids in the side room while the
      various parents had their grownup dinner in the main room. Seemed like a really
      nice idea.

      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

        Great idea. According to the website they do on the first Monday of the month. For $10 per child they get food and supervised activities.

        Looks like they have a special on the third Monday of each month ... a $25 3 course prixe fixe. Every Thursday wine is 1/2 off.

        They are no longer open on Tuesday or Wednesday. I'm going to have to try that prix fixe.

        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          I had heard of this but haven't tried it. It wasn't hihglighted on the menu or anything. I would really like to (my kids are just the right age for this). It would be fun to go with another family.

          1. re: milklady

            It's a great idea and a bargain, too, considering the price of babysitters!

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Yeah, no kidding! My son is a couple months shy of the age requirement (2+), but hopefully we'll be able to do this at some point.

      2. Went to Digs Bistro tonight, on the recommendation of Chowhound and with a $25 certificate. My boyfriend and I shared the charcuterie plate, which I loved. The standouts were the duck ham, delectably smooth and rich, and the housemade bacon, which had a nice brown sugar crunch. I had the pork chop as my entree. The pork chop was nicely cooked, smoky and sweet (came with peach butter on top). The mashed potatoes were fine and I didn't care too much for the creamed spinach, but I don't like creamed spinach in general. My boyfriend had the tuna, which he seemed to enjoy. We didn't order any wine or dessert, so our bill came out to just $35 (including the automatic gratuity). Our waiter chided me gently for presenting the certificate at the end of the dinner rather than at the beginning.

        On a Thursday night around 8pm, the restaurant was a bit empty, even for its small space. It was nice to eat at a restaurant and be able to speak/hear each other at a normal volume. Great place for a date night.

        7 Replies
        1. re: betterbeheaven

          Why did the server make an issue of the timing of the certificate? Are gift certificates supposed to be presented in the beginning in general? I've never used the GC but just bought some...

          1. re: adrienne156

            I checked the certificate and the site and couldn't find it as a written rule but I dimly remember from previous coupon books some sort of certificate etiquette about presenting it early on.

            1. re: adrienne156

              I think it takes awhile to process the certificate, like the waiter needs to call the line to verify the certificate hasn't been used already.

              1. re: betterbeheaven

                AHA! That would be different than the coupons. Each certificate has a #. They say if you are not a restaurant employee making an accreditation call the certificate will be voided. This to eliminate use of multiple copies. It not just etiquette, it's time saving for the patron to be pre-approved, so to speak.
                Thank you BBH.

                1. re: wolfe

                  Right. In fact, if you print out the certificate and lose it (or you decide to go out and you don't have it with you), you can go to your account on the site and reprint it, because it's the number that's important, not the actual piece of paper.

                2. re: betterbeheaven

                  Yeah, our waiter tonight expressed his appreciation that we gave him the certificate right at the beginning.

                  Brand-new menu that just started tonight, I believe. The lamb burger was still available--my wife enjoyed that, though I found the side of patatas bravas to be kind of soggy, not crisp. I had a really nice grilled hangar steak. Good side dishes: sweet potato gratin, a tasty chard that had a nice, almost crisp texture, and some kind of corn chimichurri.

                  Also on the menu were a roast chicken with brussels sprouts and mushroom jus, and a fried catfish option--both sounded good, but I wasn't in the mood.

                  Great deal with the gift certificate.

                3. re: adrienne156

                  says on my certificates that they should be presented before the meal.

              2. Used the coupon, loved the meal. What betterbe said about the charcuterie plate goes for me too. Wife had the chicken, tender juicy delicious and good toothy tasty brussel sprouts. I had the Italian blini with wild mushroom and green onion gremolata. Delicious and I finished off the sauce with good sourdough. It has been so long since my last visit several owners ago that the cute wooden booths are gone and the place has expanded eastward with a separate room for 10-12 for small parties. We will return sooner this time.

                7 Replies
                1. re: wolfe

                  Good to know, I'm going tomorrow night. Is the online menu at all accurate? I don't see the blini there.

                  I remember the booths, too. I think it used to be called A La Carte?

                  1. re: Glencora

                    My joke, a crepe by any other name is still a crepe. Green Garlic and Ricotta Cannelloni on their menu, thin rolled crepe with yummy cheese filling and crunchy green onion curls with trumpet mushrooms.

                    1. re: wolfe

                      Oh! You mean the cannelloni. (Looking at the menu) I'm a little dense past my bedtime. Anyhow, it sounds great, whatever it's called. Mmmm and the stuffed peppers, too.

                      1. re: Glencora

                        The crab-stuffed peppers were indeed very good, but with only two thumb-sized peppers per order, the four of us each got a single bite. We also shared the flat bread with sausage -- tasty. My Arctic char was a bit of a disappointment. The skin was nice and crispy, but the whole dish was fairly boring. Maybe it was my fault for forgetting that I don't really like gratin potatoes. (I also couldn't taste the fennel in there.) It was basically comfort food and not as "nice' as I was expecting. There was also a mess of spinach. Good enough. I heard the waiter telling the ladies at another table to "eat their nasty spinach."

                        If I do go back, I'll make sure to sit in the cozy main room, maybe by the fireplace. The other room, up a couple steps, only has three tables and I was hyper-aware of the other diners. Plus, it felt like eating in an ex-bedroom.

                        A so-so experience.

                      2. re: wolfe

                        Except that I think you meant blintz, not blini. Although blintzes are clearly derived from blini, true blini are little flat pancakes, not folded, crepe-like pancakes.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          What terrible things can happen when you consult wikipedia.
                          Blintz - Wikipedia, t
                          A blintz, blintze, or blin (plural: blintzes, blini, or blinchiki.)
                          Mia khasuren

                          1. re: wolfe

                            Yeah, I read that entry. Misleading/inaccurate, IMHO.

                  2. We went for dinner this Saturday before a show at the Greek Theatre. We had an 6pm reservation so we could get to the show but I think they are only open until 9:30pm. I'm not sure if that's the last seating time or when they are trying to close.

                    My husband and I really liked it. It was a birthday dinner so we started with a kir royale. We split the friend stuffed pepper appitizer. It was stuffed with goat cheese and perfectly fried. I had the crispy duck leg which was served with a duck etouffee, mashed potatoes and kale slaw. I love everything! The kale salad was the perfect complement to the duck. My husband had the tuna which was also delicious.

                    We each ordered a glass of wine with dinner and the waiter suggested a few wines and brought them out for me to try. I like it when they do that especially when you are only getting a glass.

                    We finished with the chocolate cake (like a molten lava cake in a ramekin) and some chocolate port. Despite how it sounds the combination was great! I love the Trentadue choc port and the cake was not too rich.

                    The menu was small but that's a plus for me since you know that every item is well thought out and fresh. We moved from Philadelphia and it has a Philly kind of vibe , very low key. Overall, we really liked it and might be back if we are in the area. I wouldn't drive from the South Bay just to go there but it would be nice to have an excuse to return. It would be great to have a place like this at the same price point (our dinner w/o tip was $80) in our area.

                    Digs Bistro
                    1453 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94702