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I leave to go home tomorrow after being in Northern California visiting friends for the past two months … yes, my hubby has missed me … or maybe just my cooking. But today, my friend, her daughter (who is also my goddaughter) and I had lunch at Chez Panisse.
Don’t you just love my flip flops? I had already packed my suitcases and neglected to leave out appropriate shoes. Oh well. Nobody looks at your feet, right?
Being the foodie that I am, I’ve wanted to eat at Chez Panisse for awhile now. Alice Waters, the founder and co-owner, helped change the way Americans eat with the farm-to-table movement serving organic, locally harvested fresh, seasonal food when the restaurant opened in 1971. She has several cookbooks. In the Kitchen is my favorite…at the moment.
Chez Panisse is one of the most well-known and world-renown restaurants in Northern California, if not in the whole world!
And Chez Panisse did NOT disappoint!
The Craftsman-style house that is the foundation of Chez Panisse felt fancy yet inviting. It literally feels like you walked into someone’s home.
As I mentioned, we went for lunch so we ate in the more casual café upstairs. If you want something more formal you can go for the three-course prix-fixe dinner. Be sure to call for reservations ahead of time — at least a month from what I’ve heard. I called about a week in advance for reservations and didn’t have any problems getting our preferred day/time.
The menu changes daily based on what’s in season and what’s at the market, so you never know what you’re going to get. Because of my gluten intolerance I had to call ahead to see if there was something I could actually eat. I was told that they don’t make substitutions but there is usually a meal with meat and veggies.
My friend and I both had the Mixed poultry grill, persimmons, fig relish, sage and roasted potatoes.
My goddaughter had the Grilled Preston Point lamb with sweet pepper and cannelloni bean gratin, spinach, and salsa verde.
We all loved our meals and the service is impeccable and our waiter was excellent – very friendly and informative but not stuffy. We didn’t get dessert because I wanted to get ice cream at Smitten, churned to order (I can’t help it, I love that place and I’m leaving tomorrow and who knows when I’ll be back).
Overall, I highly, highly recommend Chez Panisse if you’re in Berkeley or even the Bay Area. I thought it completely lived up to its expectations and was just such a special, yet totally uncomplicated meal. There’s no molecular gastronomy or other crazy stuff – just simple, straightforward food made incredibly well in a cozy yet fun and fancy atmosphere. It was such a fun meal, and I can only hope we can find another excuse to go again soon!
1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709
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