Five - Scott Howard, Berkeley
- Robert Lauriston Mar 8, 2009 01:34 PM
The Chron reports that Scott Howard will be chef in the restaurant at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza, which is due to reopen next month. Unless they've reorganized the floor plan, this would be the former Afghan Oasis space.
ooh, you wound me to the quick!! Yes, even worser than 2826. At least Casa De Eva had a 37 year run there; we had almost 5. Don't hold my feet to the fire over Lucio's, Mazzini and Maritime; it's not my fault!! Jeeesh, we mopped out the whole place using holy water from Lourdes (I kid you not...)!! Berkeley can be a tough row to hoe...
That's all I'm Sayin'... adam
I was walking by last night and went in to take a look. I think they removed some walls, anyway the room seems bigger and brighter, with a big bar in the middle separating the dining room and lounge. They said they opened Tuesday.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza
2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA
Had dinner here last night.
A friendly, uniformed doorman welcomed us. (A doorman -- in Berkeley.) The interior is overdone, but in a fun way, I guess, with a boldly patterned carpet in the lobby, the high ceiling and lovely original moldings painted white, contrasting with wildly patterned (ugly) wallpaper and patterned armchairs. There are some curvy, modern blue and pink colored lights overhead. An "interesting" combination of old fashioned and modern. I think the space might be more fun in the dark, and especially without the view of the shuttered Ross across the street.
The server offered still or sparkling filtered tap water, and brought soft butter and bread that tasted faintly of cinnamon.
We started with crispy fried squash blossoms (3 to an order) filled with gooshy goat cheese. I liked these a lot. The two of us also shared the ahi tartare with avocado, vanilla bean and chorizo. It came formed into a disk and the server asked us if we wanted her to toss it for us. Sure, whatever. So she did so, industriously. The chorizo added a little heat. The vanilla may have added a sweet touch, but I probably wouldn't have identified it if I hadn't known it was there. My SO loved this. I thought it was fine.
During the meal, five different people served us, although we had one main server. There were more people working there than dining, and a lot of commotion and buzzing around.
My SO also loved his halibut with peas, shitakes, apple curry and cauliflower puree. I didn't get a taste, but it looked beautiful. This is a "dabs of different colored sauces speckled artistically on large white plates" kind of place.
My sole was stacked between blobs of crab mashed potatoes, with little crispy artichokes like points on a star. This was a way of dressing up what was really comfort food. I liked the artichokes, but the dish was bland and I got tired of it before I'd finished. (A few Yelp reviews complain of small portions. I thought they were quite big enough.)
We shared a peach crisp -- or maybe nectarine, they weren't sure. In any case, the fruit was good. It was a fairly rustic desert with a granola-like topping.
We had one of the wines from the "5 wines for $30" page.
I've misplaced my receipt, but the prices seemed fair, considering the environment. (Hard to believe it was ever a residents' hotel.) I'm ambivalent about the food.
One last thing -- I've never been around a more nervous staff, with dropped corks and spilled water glasses. There seemed to be a lot tension. I hope things will calm down as time passes.
Edit: found it: $104 before tax and tip.
Stopped in last night after a movie. The prices seemed a bit steeper than we were in the mood for but figured we'd sit at the bar, try a couple of small plates, and move on if it seemed like we'd have to spend a lot to fill up.
Braised pork belly / cider vinegar glaze / navy bean puree / apple & walnut salad ($10) was a particularly meaty piece of pork, maybe a bit more than 3" square. The sauce was a good foil to the rich meat.
Orzo ”mac & cheese” / braised foraged mushrooms / tomato jam ($12) seemed more like a fondue than mac & cheese, but it was really delicious.
Onion rings ($5) were shoestring-style, so they stayed crisp, and were really good dipped in the tart ginger ketchup.
After those three very rich items we were too stuffed to try the shrimp & grits. With two $5 beers the total bill before tip was $40, not bad.
Had dinner here with a friend a couple of weeks ago. I really enjoyed it, nice vibe to the dining room, elegant but still casual.
Started with the smoked salmon with yukon gold potato cake. I really enjoyed the potato cake because it was light and fluffy, with the thinest golden browned crust. It was the best part of the dish. The salmon tasted like any lox you'd get, nothing really special.
My friend had the duck confit, which looked like a special. It was a nice big piece of duck leg and thigh and she said it was really good. It was on top of a summer succotash that she also enjoyed.
I got the lamb loin with mushroom streudel. The lamb was cooked medium rear and it was well done, but I really enjoyed the streudel. It was made up of a variety of mushrooms chopped up and just the flavor was really incredible.
For dessert we both had the butterscotch pudding. I loved Scott Howard's version in the city, but this time it was made with vanilla bean and had less the butterscotch flavor. Still, it was creamy and enjoyable with the added crunch of brittle bits on top.
I think Scott Howard is cooking at the same level he did in San Francisco, so if you liked Scott Howard in the city, then you'll like FIVE. Service was really friendly and there's a fun bar at the front.
My full take and photos: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...
I have reservations to go here in a couple weeks (having dinner before I see a play) and really looking forwarded it.
I called to ask them how much they charged for corkage, since I wanted to bring a nice bottle of wine I've been saving for a while. The manager answered and said "we don't believe in charging for corkage"!
I say NO CORKAGE is reason enough to like this place. Hope my dinner does justice to the wine. :-)