Zut! - former Eccolo [Berkeley]
- Robert Lauriston Aug 31, 2010 03:50 PM
Sign on the door says they're opening at 5pm today. Denny Abrams has seriously remodeled the space: the skylight room has doors across the front that open onto an expanded enclosed patio area, and there are windows across the whole rest of the building.
We went to Zut! yesterday for an early evening cocktail and some appetizers and had a lovely experience. I love how they redid the interior creating two rooms that can be made separate for events and then an open area with informal tables, view to the kitchen and two bar areas. You come in and feel comfortable right away. We sat at the bar and had a couple of drinks - my husband said his sidecar was the best he has had in years. We ordered the scallop appetizer, french fries, padron peppers, pizza and the hazelnut sable for dessert. We enjoyed every dish and want to go back and try more dishes. For me it was a notch up from Eccolo and this is a place that will tempt us when we are on 4th Street.
Went there for lunch yesterday and decided to try a falafel sandwich since I love them and Zut seems to have a Middle Eastern tilt. It proved to be a deconstructed version with four falafels, grilled pita bread, some spicy red sauce, sour cream and a salad with cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and carrots steeped in vinegar.
I don't know. I guess I'm a purist, but the falafel sandwich is a perfect package. I couldn't decided how to eat this. I tried to make my own little sandwiches by cutting up the large falafels and tucking them in to the pita with the other stuff, but it just didn't work. The falafels themselves were delicious, but I found the vinegar on the veggies really annoying and the whole thing was hard to eat.
If you're going to deconstruct and reconceive a classic, you better improve on the original.
This made me want to head for Bongo Burger for a proper falafel.
2154 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704
I think they changed the menu since you went. My g/f and I stopped in for brunch in January and the Falafel dish was just called "Falafel" with no "Sandwich" plus a list of the items that came with it. When I ordered the waitress also told me it was a falafel plate and not a sandwich.
I really liked the housemade pita and didn't have too much difficulty in making little wraps. My issue was the seasoning of the falafel themselves. They were pretty bland. I 2nd Wolfe's suggestion for Sunrise Deli on Bancroft by UCB. Need to check out Chick-o-Peas.
The French Toast with sauteed apples was delicious.
Saturday night with occasionally noisy group at the bar. Hysterical cheering with good plays and the infrequent home runs. Crowd noise decreased dramatically with last strike out. The smoked scallop with orange fennel salad was good. The meze plate was ok, the house made pita grilled was very good although theirs like mine didn't poof. My wife's chicken with a latke-like potato was well received. My hamburger, medium, was dry, had a good charred taste and I really liked the fries. I am not sure if any one checked the appearance of the sandwich. The bun which was big enough and held up til the end had an inverted dome as it someone pressed down on it with their elbow. Anyway it did its job but wasn't anything special.
ehh. not bad. but not great. we only went once to Eccolo, formerly in that space, and had adored it, and always wondered why they left. (I know Christopher Lee went on to do the Pop-Up series....)
Zut - we had the chorizo and squid starter, and the mussels and fries in a tomato & wine broth, and the flank steak in a chimichurri sauce with greens (spigiarello) and creamy polenta. The polenta was by far the best thing of the entire night. That and the cocktails. I had the Bitter Rose - Gin, aperol, rose water, and sparkling wine (bitter, party of one?)- delicious - bitter enough but not too, and no hint of sweetness, tho i couldn't taste the rose water; and my sister had the Maltese - Ketel one, grapefruit, lemon, mint and pastis (pastis and grapefruit are my new favorite combo). The polenta was creamy and cheesy (blue and parm) and perfect. it had depth and oomph and heft and lightness, all at the same time. The steak was smokey, having been grilled over wood chips, we were told, but overcooked. my mussels' broth was too tomato-y for my taste, almost like a tomato soup instead of tomatoes in a wine broth. the fries, which on their own were nice and crispy, instead of being served separately, were strewn across the mussels and many of them ended up being over-soaked in the broth. aioli dollop was rather bland. as for the starter, beautiful little squid packages, looked like fat grilled sausages, stuffed with chorizo, over some wilted mint. The squid flavor was barely discernible over the chorizo, which had a nice breath of cinnamon, but the mint worked well with the dish. Overall - i had a gift certificate so the "bite" was lessened for me - I wouldn't go back, except for cocktails if i was in the area, and maybe those fries on their own, and definitely that polenta.
I finally went to Zut! last night for cocktails and dinner. We had a wonderful experience. The waitstaff was lovely and the sangria divine. We tried all three pizzas, margherita, blue cheese/pear/onion and a pork cheek. Thin and chewy- very good. The little gems salad with buttermilk dressing was particularly delicious. We shared an ice cream sundae with crunchy, salty almond bits and fudge sauce. The vibe was fun and casual but it still felt special. The french fries were good but I might request them "well done" next time.
1820 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710
I forgot to report on the lunch a friend and I had at Zut a few weeks ago (her suggestion). I found it mildly disappointing. Nothing was bad, but only one dish was out of the ordinary (fried brussels sprouts). Otherwise, I thought it was competent but unexciting Cal cuisine that ended up being kind of expensive ($75 with tax before tip for lunch for two with no alcohol). I wouldn't say don't go, but I wouldn't recommend it given the many, many better options at that price point in the Oakland/Berkeley area.
I will say that the service was great. We were sitting behind the host stand and apparently someone overheard me wishing my friend a belated happy birthday and they wished her a happy birthday and put a candle on her dessert.
1820 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710
Finally tried Zut. It's a good place to go with unadventurous family members, but it did seem expensive for what we got. The mussels are now a starter, without fries included, and a bland lamb meatball dish has been added. My favorite bite was the taste I had of the steak -- smokey, as someone else mentioned, but not overcooked. My salmon was fairly dry but the corn and small pieces of potato and squash underneath were tasty. Other people in our group had pizzas and the burger. They seemed to mostly enjoy them, though my son complained that the hamburger bun was tasteless.
One other thing: we were in the side room and it was freezing. They can't close the door as long as people are dining outside. Everyone was shivering and pulling on jackets.
I might go back on a Thursday when all pizzas are $10. On a *warm* Thursday.
After dinner last nite, one of my friends was eager to get dessert, and some of us wanted cocktails. Since we were in the North of Berkeley region (dinner at Pacific East Mall), someone suggested trying out Zut. It was a perfect choice.
Apple crisp with Strauss' vanilla bean ice cream was as good as it gets. Apples were almost charred on the edges, not too sweet, a very thin "crisp" added structure. It was devoured.
Moscovado pot de creme, with a whole wheat, hazelnut cookie on the side -- equally devoured. The moscovado sugar has a very distinctive flavor, much like molasses, but also surprisingly not too sweet.
My Pisco Sour was one of the best I've had. I definitely will return for more of the same and to try out other drinks.
PLUS Mr. Wonderful Bartender gave us a taste of a very rare aged Mezcal that was an outrageously delicate medley of flavors, but is equally outrageously expensive.