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Chez Panisse--How's the food, really?

My boyfriend works at Chez and I have worked for Alice so it's not so right field as you think but I too respect your opinion.

Nov 02, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Chez Panisse--How's the food, really?

There is a lot of bluster about Alice Waters as she is a pioneer in the food world and that is valid.
There is a lot of bluster about Alice working the burners at Chez and that is not true, she has moved beyond working a station so that notion is not valid.
I think, the real bluster surounding Alice is that she, and her restaurant and cafe, are big enough that they can attract some of the best farmers and cooks and waiters around despite her absence. This means they can still get great products and great soon-to-be chefs that can cook in a way that is conscientious and mindful and the servers care enough to present them as the gems that they are.
Being in the business, I have gripes with how precious Chez holds itself to be but, overall, it has a leg to stand on. The ethic of the restaurant is strong which means that each individual cook has a high standard so that Alice does not have to be over his/her shoulder every minute (which could be not helpful at times)
Like any restaurant, they surely have "off" nights but overall the quality is quite good especially compared to restaurants that try to perform at the level of Chez Panisse.

Oct 21, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Sebastopol/Area Recs

I strongly suggest Restaurant Eloise. The BF and I had a great experience there a couple of months ago. It's delicious food with no pretense and great value. They have a garden out back where they grow a bunch of stuff for the restaurant but it's not a crunchy, granola scene, it's really good food! This link seems to be dated so maybe you have already come and gone but check it out on you next trip.

Sep 15, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

private room dinner celebration ideas

If you're in the east bay, Oliveto or Eccolo would be nice.

Sep 10, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Saturday lunch in the east bay?

Walked by Oliveto in Rockridge today and they're doing a big re-model of the cafe downstairs. The barista I spoke to said they would be starting tomorrow with a somewhat limited but promising menu. Prices seem right. Given their great pizzas, it's worth consideration.

Sep 07, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Thai Delight? Organic Thai restaurant

This is my favorite Thai food in the East Bay. As for the service, in my experience there is one server there who is super surly but the rest are so very nice. Getting the surly server is like getting the short straw, I've come to accept it from time to time.

The panang curry is the best. Especially if you take it to go and tart it up with a little more fish sauce. Fresh rolls are great too, with lots of herbs and the skin never seems to be too gooey lik ei t can be at other places. They have a great eggplant dish and the best larb I've ever had. They make a larb with duck that's delicious but I prefer good old fashioned chicken or pork.

Their peanut sauce is not good (too sweet and thick). Their pad thai is no more disappointing than any pad thai I've had in the east bay. Where does one get REALLY GOOD pad thai?

Aug 11, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

which wineries worth it/worth tours?

If you're interested in bubbly, the tour at Schramsberg is pretty thorough and delicious at the end.

Aug 01, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Corso hitting its stride

Is there the same chef now as when they opened? I heard some talk about a change?

Aug 01, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

BBQ in the East Bay: T-Rex, Brick's Pig House, Chef Edwards, Flints??

When you go to T-Rex, if possible, sit at the bar (or bar area) it's usually a cool scene with lots of literal and metaphorical flavor I think.

Aug 01, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Raves for Restaurant Eloise in Sebastapool

You're right, in our tipsy wandering around the restaurant, we did see a separate area towards of the back of the restaurant which seems like it would be a good spot for a private dinner. If I remember right, there isn't a door that closes it off but it's set pretty far away from where we were seated in the main room. We were so focussed on our little dinner that we didn't get any info about tasting menus and things but they seem pretty accomodating in general so maybe.

Aug 01, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Raves for Restaurant Eloise in Sebastapool

The BF and I went there tonight and had a truly great meal. They are brand new so one could expect service glitches, underperforming dishes, or any manner of problems (we are in the biz so we are especially mindful of such things) but they delivered 100%.

To start we had sardines with celery and walnuts. By the time I tasted the sardines (BF devoured most of them) they were closer to room temp but were still meaty in that oily fish kind of way without being overpowering in that oily fish kind of way. They were great with the walnuts, kind of an earth and ocean thing.

The big, pleasant suprise of the night was the bone marrow. It was (local) beef marrow served with some coarse grained salt and a salad of parsley, caper, marinated onion, and cornichon. The salad was really piquant which off set the richness of the marrow. Outstanding.

We followed with two fish dishes. BF had the sand dabs with brown butter, capers, and artichokes and I had milk soaked halibut with green beans (blue lakes?) and three varietes of sweet onions. Usually my favorite way to eat halibut is raw so I was wary of it being both cooked AND soaked in milk but it was a great way to prepare this fish. It was tender and melded with its butter based sauce seamlessly. Both fish dishes were great with the wine which they helped us choose. The wine list is compact and mostly CA which can be tricky to navigate with food (never know how much oak you will be forced to ingest) but the chardonnay that they offer is truly Burgundian in style and was great with buttery fish dishes.

By dessert I was fairly full but still enjoyed the offerings. We got the donuts with raspberry jam which wasn't as cloying as it sounds. The "jam" was more like a sauce which was plenty tart and sufficiently fruity while the donuts were fluffy and not too sweet. We also had a brioche type bread that was cooked (partially) in simple syrup and doused with whipped cream and rum. Again, not too sweet and really interesting flavors.

They have a garden out back where they grow a lot of their produce and it pays off. The dishes that feature this produce really pop, especially the mild, green, parsley they used for the bone marrow.

Anyhoo, I would suggest going out of your way to check this place out.

Aug 01, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Favorite Holes in the Wall (East Bay)

I've been living here for ages and have never heard of Diggs Bistro? Where is it stashed away?

May 30, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Special Occasion dinner help--engagement night

Quince.

Apr 15, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Help? Special occasion restaurant for mom's 85th in SF w/a view, perhaps?

This may sound kooky but what about Fog City Diner? Seems to be good for most ages and has a fairly enclosed area with a view of the Embarcadero which could be nice for the city feel of it all.

Apr 15, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area

Shattuck Avenue Unmentionables- Thai Delight, Da Lian & Oriental Restaurant

Like many posters, I've been eating thai food in the bay for years. I'm often underwhelmed but have found that Thai Delight offers some really great (and meh.) dishes. I have their number on my speed dial.

The panang curry is outstanding.
The Larb (chicken or duck) is the best I've ever had.
The eggplant tofu is quite good.
The fresh roll lives up to it's name.
The thai iced tea seems better than elsewhere but this could just me.

On the down side, their peanut sauce is really thick and too sweet. I got the broccoli and tofu with peanut sauce once and left feeling too full and tweaked at the same time. Not pleasant.

Apr 15, 2008
AIG in San Francisco Bay Area