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“Quality food with great ambience”
Review of Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse
Ranked #2 of 717 Restaurants in Berkeley
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $25 - $100
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Cedar Street
Transit: Downtown Berkeley BART station 7 blocks from Chez Panisse. AC Transit bus connection or taxi at BART station AC Transit bus connection or taxi at BART station
Reviewed July 20, 2014

We celebrated a reunion with friends from Australia and locals to Berkeley at Chez Panisse. One of our party had allergies but the restaurant was so accommodating and adapted each of her dishes. Our waiter was very attentive and made sure she had exactly what she could eat. The food was excellent and luckily we all chose different dishes so we could sample each other's. It was all simply presented fresh food full of flavours.

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Thank duncan s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 16, 2014

OK, on a side trip to Berkeley as part of a longer CA trip, I was thrilled (and made a big deal out of) to score last-minute reservations at Chez Panisse. I have long admired Alice Waters for her culinary vision and creativity, and commitment to local and organic foods. I had the whole family jazzed about going. In short, I was prime for a giant letdown.
Silly me.
We dined on a Saturday afternoon in the cafe. I won't rehash every detail of the meal, but it was superb. Service was friendly (I had heard otherwise) and the upstairs portion of the restaurant wascomfortable and architecturally interesting. We were seated near the open kitchen, which was fascinating to watch while sipping a crisp California wine.
Chez Panisse is definitely splurge dining (at least for my family). But worth it. You won't be disappointed.

1  Thank missgrl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 13, 2014

salad drenched in green goddess dressing. 'seafood' ravioli was salty and had to be returned for the chicken was had no flavor and was very fatty. nectarine galette was delicious.

Thank overdoityks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2014

We had not been to Chez Panisse since it reopened a year ago after repairing the damage from March 2013 fire. I wanted to go back and to eat downstairs, where you have only the tasting menu, rather than upstairs at the cafe, where you order a la carte. To me the classic Chez Panisse experience is the tasting menu.

Ironically, just this morning I had read the New York Times article, "Your Eyes Are Happier Than Your Stomach" by Pete Wells that talked about the trend for restaurants to focus more on appearances than flavor, because people are taking photos of their food and sending them to their friends. I suspected that Chez Panisse had not fallen into that trap and wondered if that was why following the fire, Chez Panisse had not regained its Michelin Star following the fire.

My guess was correct. Our meal was wonderful, but not unduly decorated. The food was attractively plated, but not meticulously constructed with tweezers.

When we sat down, the waiter brought a dish of almonds. We have tasted a lot of almonds at our local farmers market (in the Bay Area), but these were better than what we normally taste. We were given the printed daily menu. At $85 for the tasting menu, it is one of the best buys in the Bay Area and the waiter suggested an excellent, very reasonably priced wine to go with our meal.

Our first course, "insalata di mare with salted cucumbers, nasturtium blossoms and green coriander" was superb. There was skipjack, shrimp and squid. Each component was excellent and they all worked well together. I liked the dressing so much, I was mopping up every bit with the excellent bread.

The next course was "chanterelle mushroom risotto with thyme and lemon zest." All of the flavors were perfectly blended. The portion was an excellent size for me. I had as much as I wanted, but didn't lose my appetite for the main course.

The main course was "grilled Cattail Creek Ranch lamb loin and leg and pan-fried chop with salsa rosa, green beans, and fennel alla romana." Neither my husband nor I have ever had a breaded lamb chop before, but we both liked it. The chop was coated in panko crumbs. The lamb and leg were perfectly pink, tender, and lean. The fennel alla romana was superb. I want to try to figure out how to cook fennel that way.

Dessert was "summer berry tartlet with lemon verbena cream." When the waiter brought it to the table, he explained that it was picture perfect. We didn't photograph it, but it was wonderful. It had strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries (and possibly some other related berries as there were a couple of other similar looking berries that were a slightly different shade). As with the other courses, the flavors all beautifully complemented each other.

At the end the waiter brought a plate with a small chocolate and a slice of candied Meyer lemon peel for each of us. A perfect finale to a wonderful dinner. The service was friendly and leisurely, but not too leisurely paced. The ambiance was good and relaxed. Relative to alternatives in the Bay Area, this is a great bargain.

We have enjoyed our share of "tweezer" decorated meals, but the emphasis on flavor and how the flavors go together makes Chez Panisse a winner and the price is much lower than the tweezer decorated tasting menus.

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2  Thank EveSp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2014

Have been to Berkley many times but it took meeting Alice Waters in my hometown Madison Wi to make a commitment to a reservation. Spoke to her after she was the guest lecturer at the UW Madison speaking about the whole food movement she began in the early 1970's . The dinner was wonderful as was the ambience and company. I loved the homemade fruit spritzers! All the little things brought the dinner together to make it one of my most memorable, (although I'll never forget a balsamic reduced steak I had in Florence ) I would say it was amazing. Reminiscent of many incredible dinners I had at The Ovens Of Brittany in the 70-80's in Madison .

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Thank peggy b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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