Last night I ate at the Berkeley with a friend. We ate off a 3-course Prix fixe menu for “sampling shockoe” but everything we had was on the main menu as well. Most entrees on the main menu were in the $30 range but a few were in the low $20s.
The restaurant was not terribly busy and our server did a great job. The atmosphere is fairly refined (white table cloths, etc) and most men were wearing jackets and women in dresses. Such attire is not required but that gives you a feel for the atmosphere. Some may find it a little stuffy. The restaurant has a front room and a back room. It seems like they tend to use the front as a quiet, professional/romantic area and they put larger groups in the back.
We started with the crab bisque which was absolutely fantastic. We both agreed that if we had to rate it we would give it a 5 out of 5. I would rate this as a “must have” if you eat here.
As entrees I had the pork tartlet and she had the pasta du jour which was penne in a vodka sauce with shrimp. The Pork was good, it had cherries and apricots which weren’t quite as sweet or flavorful as I had hoped, but it was well prepared and presented. The pasta was good although a little light on the vodka sauce and the shrimp were a bit overcooked. Also, they left the tails on the shrimp which made for a nice presentation but made eating a bit more difficult. It’s kind of hard to cut the tail off a shrimp that is lying on top of a pile of penne pasta. We said we would rate both entrees as a 3.5-4 out of 5.
The wine list had several “specials” which were good values in the $30 range. I had the Malbec that is paired with the pork and thought it was very good for the price.
For desert we had a chocolate mousse and the brownie a-la-mode. The mousse was very good, and the brownie was out of this world. We had to fight over the brownie, it really was fantastic in every way. I highly recommend it. Another dessert option was a “new york style cheesecake” that a man at the table next to me ordered. I didn’t taste it but it looked very ordinary and unexceptional.
Overall we were pleased and would return, but the experience was not good enough to make the Berkeley one of my “top” Richmond restaurants. However, I can definitely see myself making a special trip for some crab bisque again soon.