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- BBB Rating:
- General Info:
- Established in 1971, Chez Panisse Restaurant and Caf is a restaurant that provides a variety of food items and services in California. Its menu includes heirloom tomato salad with cr me fra che and basil, grilled ancho ade toast with fennel, cucumber and celery salad, pizzetta with rapini and pancetta, and roasted tomato, leek and shell bean soup with basil. The restaurant has a special dessert menu that includes nectarine and summer berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream and vanilla-blackcurrant truffle ice cream with bittersweet chocolate sauce. Its other dessert menu includes affogato warm espresso over vanilla ice cream and lemon verbena-meyer lemon sherbet with Lucero-farm strawberries. The restaurant also offers a range of wines, including champagne, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. It is located in Berkeley, Calif.
- Extra Phones:
: (510) 843-3811
: (510) 843-3880
- Payment method:
- all major credit cards
- North Berkeley, Gourmet Ghetto
Chez Panisse Cafe
Cafe At Chez Panisse
Chez Panisse Restaurant
- Other Information:
Parking: Street, Valet
Bike Parking: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: No
Cuisines: American, Californian
Alcohol: Beer, Wine
Takes Reservations: Yes
Outdoor Seating: No
can't believe why people fall for this place, I left here feeling completely conned.
I have two theories:
One is the old ""King New Clothes"" theory that no one wants to be called out as an ignoramus and everyone is pretending that the real basic food they charge a fortune for here, is actually gourmet.
The other (and please don't be offended, American friends) is that 90% of of the people that eat here have never been to France or eaten in a real French restaurant, so think ...view morethis is worth all this the money to eat in a ""French Restaurant"".
Believe me everyone, and I speak as a European guy who has family in Paris who is often in France, this has as much in common with even an average Paris restaurant as the imitation Paris in Las Vegas has with the real Paris.
Whoever runs this place seems to think that if you give a restaurant a French name, have some waiters with European accents, make your guests wait forever between courses (in genuine French restaurants you never have to wait this long) that equals a French restaurant, and this allows them to mark up their really poor food by huge amounts. Well, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you are not fooling me.
The service was slow as a glacier, we arrived bang on time for our 6pm table, but it was not ready, so were told we had to wait in the bar. The staff then forgot about us, so at around 6.15 we had to ask them what was going on and were told our table was ready.
After about a ten minute wait, they brought olives, after about another ten minutes they brought bread. It took around another 30 minutes for a really basic starter to arrive. Then unbelievably around an hour for the main course.
Now here was where the biggest disappointment was. Before the main course arrived I was still slightly buying the line that if you wait a long time you get something special. Boy was I wrong! I'm a vegetarian, and was promised a ""vegetarian dish"". What I got was exactly the same as what my wife got, but minus the chicken and plus more chickpeas. It was actually some vegetables, chickpeas in warm water! I could have done better myself! It was at that point that I wished we had just gone to the really excellent Claremont Diner and paid $20 for their great food.
Towards the end of the evening I was beginning to laugh out loud at the nerve of the people that run this place to perpetrate such a huge con. Our final bill was over $180! For this we got the pleasure of spending around 2 hours waiting around for food and when it came it was chickpeas in warm water!
Now I know there are those of you out there thinking now that I am just a poor ignoramus who does not appreciate good food and the French ambiance. Let me say again I know France, have been there many times, had many great meals there.
I left the restaurant singing The ""Who""s ""Won't get fooled again"" under my breath. Need I say more?view less
I would hazard a guess that it has been a while since Alice visited her restaurant. If she came, I doubt she would recognize some things. First of all, the maitre'de was officious, making us go upstairs because our table wasn't ready, even though upstairs was overflowing. (By the way, only one bathroom for all those people is a little strange, no?). He wasn't there when we left, for good or ill, so we learned how to use the revolving coat hanger system, which was pretty cool (why it go...view moret 3 stars instead of 2).
Although the leek salad was very tasty, the ravioli in a weak soup was similar to a common wanton without soup. Very strange. The pork was not too bad, but certainly nothing to write home (or anywhere else) about. The service was also common, making it obvious why they force a 17% gratuity on all the checks--one gets the feeling that we were not the first to question what kind of tip we would have to give them.
Interestingly, one of the servers spoke with a heavy European accent--until, that is, he started talking with one of his bros from a nearby town, when suddenly the accent vanished.
It seems some regulars get good treatment, but we will not be among them...
I recommend Alice come visit her restaurant, in disguise, to get a real view. Then again, maybe she would not need a disguise.view less
Aperiti:, because we don't drink, they poured us a Navarro Vineyards Gewurztraminer grape juice, a pleasant surprise, if dubious for a recovering alcoholic, which one of us was. \r
The service was not slow as some have complained, though at times it obtrusive.\r
The caviar and smoked fish (steelhead in both cases, we guessed) with the watercress salad all tasted quite fresh. The buckwheat blinis--why does Chez Panisse always have buckwheat something on every menu and...view more has had that for decades--were soggy; but still went with the caviar. And there was creme fraiche ( not mentioned.) \r
This was a decent crab cake, but it broke up too easily. The braised Belgian endives with Meyer lemon--they called it Meyer lemon ?salsa,? an odd use of words-- had an acrid taste; an unusual but not happy choice. \r
The duck breast slices came with a tiny, loose patch of risotto--again with Meyer lemon, and too lemony. . The duck breast slices with a light ""reduction sauce,"" a sort of nouvelle cuisine effect, were not miraculous, but freshness without interference. \r
The desert was conventional, but delicious, delicate yet rich. The vanilla-walnut ice cream came with the ""chocolate fondant,"" which one of my companions said was the wrong word. The young girl who made up the deserts said ""fondant"" was used on this menu just to mean warm cake. \r
There was some spice with the cake and ice cream, like cardamom, that was lovely, just a dash, a surprise. And then, afterward, candies: a chewy caramel, and??Meyer lemon thumb prints.? But this time, the Meyer lemon read only as lemon, and was not acrid or invasive.\r
I found the waiter?s insistence on our touring the kitchen made me feel treated like a tourist.\r
Alice Waters has been a great spokesperson for slow food and fresh food, but she steals all the credit for things she did not invent, and that includes Chez Paniesse itself, of whichw she has never been the principal chef.\r
Definitely a Berkeley legend... I heard Bill Clinton always stops by here whenever he is in town. Anyway, the menu is always different, menu du jour french style... wine is excellent. Pricy yes, but it is worth memorializing your special moments.Provided by Citysearch
This was a first time visit to the Prix Fix upstairs dining room and it was a dining experience all around. I had friends in from Los Angeles and this was the choice. We made reservations 1 month ahead which was Necessary! The ambiance was warm, inviting and a blend of coppery tones. The open firehearth inside the kitchen was splendid. Although the plates weren't overfilled we still all felt satisfied by the end of the meal. Everything was excellent. We had these little Gruyer C...view moreheesepuffs to start which were unique, delicate and melting in your mouth. Fresh crostinis with sardines that weren't fishy served with fresh figs and prociutto ham, a super tender dish of squid in Romesco sauce that was killer and lamb ribs cooked to perfection. The fresh apricot tartlet was flaky, buttery and full of apricots. I took a tour of the kitchen and was amazed how little room there was yet nothing and no one seemed pressed for space. The walkin refrigerator had sheetpans full of fresh berries and they were dauntingly delicious. (we got a few bites) The staff was super friendly and very very attentive. Our little guest from LA even got a going away gift of Alice Water's daughter's book to take home on her drawings and writings from the years! Talk about Nice! We were all very impressed and very happy with our meal, the service and the restaurant. It was a completely memorable meal worth the wait and even the late 8:45 dining hour.view lessProvided by Citysearch
I can see that this austere, locally sourced ""plain"" food was a breakthrough 30 years ago but so many other chefs do it so much better now, not to mention farmhouse trattorias and bistros in Italy, Greece, France and countless green markets across North America. It is food as political statement; the pleasure of the diner seems to be irrelevant. Perhaps a reaction to fussy, overly complicated and elaborately presented fine dining, the current fare at Cafe Chez Panisse is too artles...view mores, bland instead of honestly full flavored and downright stingy. A dish of fried Halibut consisted of a chunk of greasy fried fish, a small heap of celery root in a too-mustardy sauce with an unintegrated, harsh-tasting herb floating atop and a single (yes, just one), watery, flavorless new potato poised beside a puddle of starkly grassy, pureed parsley that tasted like cow spew. Missing was any brightness or liveliness of flavor or any full or earthy flavor either. Bread was good but the butter was strictly supermarket. The much touted triple-filtered drinking water was dusty and stale tasting as if a glass of nighttime tap water had sat beside your bed all week. The toasted almond ice cream had a good texture but the unappetizing, charcoal taste of burnt nuts detracted. The accompanying cookie was so hard, I was relieved my dental work survived. The citron green ice tea was a unappealing although probably good for you. The tea tasted like scrapings from the side of a lawn mower.view lessProvided by Citysearch
After waiting many years to visit Chez Panisse, since we live on the East Coast and don't get out that way often, we finally got a reservation -- or so we thought. After calling to reconfirm, we were told that we did not have one because we never gave a deposit (which was never requested) and found out that they had taken our phone number incorrectly, which is why we were cancelled. After much conversation, we were accommodated and our reservation was reinstated. We probably would h...view moreave been better off if it had not been.\r
The food was average at best, the decor very, very tired. The best part of the meal was the aperitif. The service was very good, but that does not make up for the lackluster meal that followed. The meal was prepared with so little imagination, that it almost felt like I could have made it at home if I wanted to. \r
We visited other ""exceptional"" restaurants during this trip -- Gary Danko in San Francisco being one -- and enjoyed them immensely. \r
Would not recommend Chez Panisse nor would we ever return.view less