(Note that this is a review of the restaurant; there is an upstairs cafe, with a different menu and lower prices.) Getting a reservation at this restaurant is daunting if you use Open Table; they open up slots a month in advance, and they seem to go quickly on the website, so that unless you are up in the early morning hours you may just have a couple of 9:30 openings to choose from. However, the easy way to get reservations is to call the restaurant between 9-9:30 am. If you get a busy signal, keep redialing, and you will get through, and after a time on hold will get a live reservationist, who has many, many more open days and times (all about a month ahead) to choose from than you will find online.
The restaurant is offers a one-size-fits-all fixed price menu that changes daily, based on whatever local ingredients the chef wants to feature. Unlike some other fixed price menus, there are no choices - whatever they feel like serving you that night is what you get. So if you tend to be a rather picky eater with a long list of hated foods, eating here may be a gamble, but if you are open minded and like French style California cuisine (which Alice Waters, the chef, more or less invented many years ago), you will probably enjoy it. Case in point: neither I nor my dining companion much like eggplant, anchovies, or lamb, all of which were on the menu the Tuesday night we visited, but the preparation of each was so good that we happily consumed it all. (OK, she didn’t eat the eggplant.) They offer a 3 course menu on Monday nights for the “low” price of $65, 4 course menus Tuesday-Friday for $85, and a 5 course menu on Saturday for $100. Wine pairing is $40. Wine and beer only, no bar.
The decor is gorgeous, like being in some sort of early 20th century arts and crafts architectural jewel, with copper trim and period light fixtures everywhere. Service was formal and attentive, but not stuffy. Portions are small, with an emphasis on beautiful presentation, fresh local ingredients, and refined flavors. At just a bit less than $170 a head after coffee, taxes and tip on top of the main menu and wine pairing, it’s definitely a special occasion type place to dine, but worth it.
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