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Dec 30, 2009 08:33 PM

New Year’s Eve Eve at EVE in Berkeley’s Garden of Eatin’ … the Gourmet Gulch

The original sin had to do with food and so husband-and-wife team Christopher and Veronica Laramie named their first restaurant Eve. Go and sin no more. I confess I loved every tempting bite.

Both trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Veronica went on to work as a pastry chef at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. She is the pastry chef and Christopher is the executive chef.

There is a short menu with 3 appetizers, 3 mains and 3 desserts. Every dish is $11.

Basically it is a tasting menu that can be bought by the course. The dishes are slightly larger than those in a tasting menu, but not by much..

Still, at the end of three courses I felt full and very, very satisfied.

I had
- Fresh pink grapefruit juice with rosemary ($3)
- Amuse: Carrot orange soup with cumin, topped with crème fraiche and toasted brioche stick
- Two made-to-order, hot-from-the-oven rolls with butter
- Bay scallop, sea urchin, yuzu, black radish, risotto, toganrashi
- Rock Cod, green curry, cauliflower, lime, Thai chili
- Dark Chocolate, peanuts, star anise, dates, banana
- Complimentary Chocoletier Blue sesame truffle with the check

IMO, well worth the $36 tab.

I like bold flavors. I’m not usually a fan of subtle. The dishes at Eve are deeply, intensely flavorful with lots of nuances. Spicing is amazing. Presentation is a thing of beauty.

The pink grapefruit juice served in a champagne flute was excellent and the rosemary background was a perfect touch. .

The combination of carrot and orange for the soup was so good. It was warmed, rounded out and pulled together by the light cumin taste. A tiny buttery toasted brioche stick rested across the rim of the shot glass.

Soft butter was served on a slate slab. The yeasty small white roll had a lovely thin crust. Rolls were replenished.

As beautiful as it was, when I looked at the scallop dish, my first thought was “uh, oh. I’m going to starve”

About a half cup of risotto spanned the plate surrounded by a half dozen scallops little bigger than pencil erasers. Three slices of black radish so thin you could probably see through them, were fanned along one side/ The yuzu and toganrashi were tiny decorative garnishes.

The sea urchin was incorporated into the risotto to give it the taste of the sea. The combination of flavors was amazing … I need to hook into a thesaurus since I’m running out of words expressing superlatives.

The rock cod was two simply cooked pieces of fish that were the plain canvas for the rest of the dish. The cauliflower was pureed and full of amazing, wonderful spices. This may be a cauliflower preparation that is even better than Ubuntu’s signature dish.

The green curry was simple the best Thai taste I’ve ever had in my life. There were also two pieces of fried banana and a few more garnishes.

The East Bay Express review has a picture of the rock cod though I don't see the bananas.

As good as everything was, dessert was my favorite course.

The chocolate was a divinely decadant rich, deep, dark chocolate cremeaux

The scoop of peanut butter ice cream next to it was like licking top-quality frozen peanut butter. It was on top of some chocolate crumbs. Two whole peanuts that they did something wonderful to, garnished the plate. There was a banana puree … peanut butter, chocolate, bananas … what’s not to like … but wait … there’s more.

The two slivers of date, little larger than a raisin had this amazing texture and flavor. They were long-cooked in some sort of alcohol, rum, I think. The dish has a fleeting whisper of star anise. I think it may have been the foam-like sauce under the cremeaux.

The check is presented in a tiny tin bucked along with the truffle.

After the holiday they will have the wine list ready. All wines will be available by the glass or bottle. There will be about five whites and five reds. Today there was just bottles available ranging from $22 - $38. I managed to get a glass of red at the end for $6 ... ok ... so that upped my tab to a grand total of $42.

It is lighting and layout that makes this restaurant a pleasure. When I stopped by last week my first impression was how cozy it was.

Sitting there today, I realized what an accomplishment that is since the color scheme is black and grey with touches of white. There are grey poured concrete tables. The concrete floor is unfinished. Yet, this is such an intimate and welcoming place.

The only touch of color is one green wall at the far end of the restaurant and tiny aloe vera plants in black and white vases on the tables.

The black banquets that line each wall are scattered with black and white pillows and end in corners and nooks.

The large windows overlooking University Avenue open up the interior. Tables are well spaced. They could have crammed a few more tables in but it was nice to have the extra room.

There is a review today in the East Bay Express of that section of University. The paper christened that area the Gourmet Gulch

The Road to Gourmet Gulch

My previous inquiry which has the menu that was identical to today’s menu except for one dessert

Berkeley: All about Eve - $11 Gastronome Avant-Garde

1960 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

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  1. Thanks for the report. Sounds great. A lot of Asian touches (whether ingredient-wise or flavor-wise) in the dishes that you mentioned--is that generally true of their offerings?

    If everything is $11, is there a difference in portion size between, say, the appetizers and the entrees?

    12 Replies
    1. re: abstractpoet

      No. It seems more of a global influence from the other dishes described in the East Bay Express review.

      Each course was marginally larger than the previous, but I suspect that was the luck of the draw

      You have to go there with a tasting menu mind set rather than a la carte. A three-course tasting menu for $33 at this level of skill is amazing.

      The Chow software is doing it's little annoying trick where I can't do any more editing on the OP despite being well under the two hour limit.

      I forgot to mention the service which is relaxed and casual. It is neighborhood bistro rather than fine dining. There is one very nice server supplemented by Christopher bringing some of the dishes to the table and chatting with customers.

      It is charming to look at their facebook page with a message from Christopher's mom on their wall. They seem like nice people.

      A photo of the restaurant which doesn't do it a lot of justice is on the website. They said by next week they should have the website fully functional with a menu.

      1. re: rworange

        Interesting article about "Gourmet Gulch". That stretch of University may not look very inspiring, but with Eve, Chocolatier Blue and that bakery, it has quite a few offerings. When the Greek place expands its menu and Trader Joe's finally opens, those will be nice additions.

        1. re: Agent 510

          Although the Greek place shows it's open until 9 PM on Yelp, we found out tonight it's only open until 5 PM.
          I was disappointed.
          A gyro sounded so good tonight!

          1. re: Oakland Barb

            Probably just special holiday hours. I was there a couple weeks ago a little before 7pm.

            1. re: Agent 510

              Nope ... it is 11 - 5. I guess after a few weeks they saw the major business during those hours

              Berkeley: Good Greek in the Gourmet Gulch - Athineon

          1. re: ernie in berkeley

            Yes, yes, yes ... thanks so much for those spot-on photos. That is exactly what my entire meal looked like ... sea urchin risotto, lovely potato roll, cod (with bananas) and dessert.

        2. re: abstractpoet

          Ah ... I knew I saw this somewhere ... here's how they describe themselves on facebook ...

          "Our food incorporates influences from Latin American, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines."

          1. re: rworange

            Not being a Facebook user, can anyone tell me the days and hours they're open?

            1. re: mendogurl

              Their Web site says Tues.-Sat. 5:30-10pm.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                It looks like they have changed their pricing structure. First 2 courses $25. Additional courses $11. Without getting into detail here of the meal I had there (which was alright), I think $11 for the desserts, especially what we had (mine was pretty awful, and the others weren't thrilled with theirs) was outrageous. I'll give it another try, but I'll probably skip the dessert. Maybe I'll have an extra main course instead.

                1. re: lmnopm

                  The second visit. It was so much better than the first. I didn't want to be too critical of the first visit, because they were putting a lot of effort into it, and the place was new. Tonight's amuse was delicious. I forgot exactly what it was but it had little crispy bits of pork belly over something creamy, all on a spoon. My first course was ham and eggs. Well, a bit more complex, but ham hock and fresh egg with some greens and chanterelles. Really yummy. I also sampled the sardine w/risotto, which was tasty. I had the fish for the main, which was a nice, fairly simple flavor, and I enjoyed it. I did not sample the duck. (I don't like duck, nor much that accompanied it on the plate, but the duck, for who ate it, was a smashing success.) We passed on the desserts.

                  Service was delightful. Last time, it was stiff and the server was trying too hard (from the A for effort, C for results and comfort of guests, department).