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Mar 7, 2013 10:43 AM

Corso: Watching from the counter [Berkeley]

When I dine alone, I love to sit at the counter and watch the chefs. Last night I had a wonderful meal at Corso: marinated olives (served warm, a nice surprise), a whole grilled branzino, and fried Yukon potato coins with garlic and sea salt. The skin of the branzino was crispy and charred, the inside mild and moist, and it married perfectly with the potatoes. Oh yeah. I finished with the panna cotta. Yum.

But the fun part of the meal was watching the two chefs and the sous chef preparing the dinners. The butter roasted chicken seemed to be a favorite. Chef would put an outrageous amount of butter in a small pan, and leave it on the rage until it had a serious crust, then turn it over and throw it in the oven. Pasta dishes would begin with the chef taking a small portion of pasta, carefully unraveling it, and putting it in a pot of boiling water. About the same time, he would put the sugo on the stove and cook over a high fire. Finally, after tasting the pasta to make sure it was right, he would add he pasta to the sugo and toss the ingredients together.

What really impressed me was the way the chefs tasted everything before plating it. I suppose this is standard practice, but it still surprised me.

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  1. Appreciate the play-by-play from the perspective of the counter seat! Real cooking, not just assembling plates with tweezers.