Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Caesar salad

Lunch: a burrito with chile verde from
Gordo Taqueria, 2989 College Ave., Berkeley, CA; tel. (510) 204-9027

Dinner: Caesar salad and a glass of rosé at
downtown, 2102 shattuck avenue, berkeley; tel. 510.649.3810

A CAESAR SALAD, as far as I'm concerned, deserves the name only if a few minimum conditions are met: it must be romaine; it must include anchovy; there should be garlicky croutons; it must be dressed with raw egg. These conditions are rarely met these days, and it's not only because of the salmonella hysteria: widespread fear of anchovy is another villain. The best Caesar salad in the vicinity is that at Zuni (1658 Market St., San Francisco; tel. (415) 552-2522), but we were not in San Francisco; we were in downtown Berkeley to see a play. We were eating early, wanted to stay awake through the play, and had an hour's drive afterward, so must eat light.

downtown — the restaurant is averse to capital letters — serves a Caesar salad that's routine. You could argue that this is both expectable and justifiable, since a relatively small kitchen has to satisfy a large number of diners in a short time before a play (Berkeley Rep and Aurora Theater are both within a few yards of the restaurant). But that's equally true at Zuni. Still, a routine Caesar is not a bad thing, and offset the bad karma attendant a lunchtime burrito.

With the salad: a glass of Corbières rosé, 2006

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