Weeknight Dinner at Chez Panisse Café January 2014
Mary and I had a night out without our significant others. We had tickets for Berkeley Rep’s showing of the Kneehigh theaters Tristan & Yseult a modern take on Wagner’s opera. What better way to start the night in Berkeley than with dinner at Chez Panisse Café. The restaurant has recovered from their recent fire.
Mary started the meal with a carrot soup with ginger and coriander; while I enjoyed the smoked steelhead with roasted beets, crème fraîche, steelhead roe and dill; both first courses where fantastic but the fish had more substance and a silky and creamy smoky texture.
Next we both loved the Stemple Creek Ranch sirloin roast with shoestring potatoes, spinach, and horseradish salsa. The steak was done perfectly rare while the shoestrings where perfectly crispy and a wonderful indulgence.
We both enjoyed the St. Innocent Pinot Noir 2010 It had a ripe raspberry, violet and spice scent. The somewhat lean, mid-weight body shows currant and tea flavors with ample fine tannins on the finish and for the price it was a nice but not over the top mid week wine.
We ended the meal with the tangerine sherbet meringata with pistachio nougatine and the Hachiya persimmon pudding with bourbon caramel and crème Chantilly; the sherbet had intense tangerine flavor and the meringata is like a puff of crispy air; while the pudding is lush and rich and a perfect ending to a rich and overall perfectly balanced meal.
Alice Waters reigns supreme with her farm to table cuisine where the perfect ingredients are never over powered; considering the restaurant was established in 1971 it is truly remarkable that she has never lost focus and the food is as fresh and perfect as always.