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Mar 8, 2009 01:34 PM

Five - Scott Howard, Berkeley

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.

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  1. Very brave of him. That spot is the "Bermuda Triangle" for restaurants. Downtown Berkeley is tough to park in; then you have to run the gantlet of panhandlers from your car to the resto.
    Best of luck to Scott. adam

    3 Replies
    1. re: adamshoe

      Worse than 2826 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley?

      1. re: wolfe

        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

      2. re: adamshoe

        The parking isn't so bad. The garage across from Berkeley Rep is only $5 on a weeknight; the garage closer to the restaurant is $8. At least two tables last night were hotel guests, so even though it's a tough spot it may get tourists. Maybe...

      3. That is an odd space but if it did something about the curb a reason to stop while walking by, it would do okay. Of course with an renovation you expect that right?

        1 Reply
        1. re: ML8000

          The big factor may be the hotel itself. Before the renovation, that place was scary, really dingy and forgotten. From the website, it looks like this is being transformed into an actual nice place to stay. Downtown Berkeley could use that, as well as another good restaurant.

        2. 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

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Lauriston


            FIVE American Bistro & Bar
            2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

          2. Has anyone tried this place yet?? I'd love to hear a review.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mutterer

              Haven't been, but here is a link to the menu if anyone is interested.


            2. 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.