Berkeley, December 14, 2011—LUNCH AT A PLACE new to us, down on San Pablo Avenue: for me, Minestrone soup, then Spaghettini alla Carbonara. The soup was vegetable soup in a water base, not stock; it was not hearty enough to be called a minestrone (that "one" suffix is an augmentative, and this was a lean soup); but it was flavorful and pleasant and at the price I didn't complain. The carbonara was made with pancetta, thankfully, not bacon: but it tasted a little smoky nonetheless — domestic pancetta, I would say. Still, this was a pleasant enough lunch. No complaints.
Sangiovese by the glass, 2010•Luca Cucina Italiana, 2057 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; (510) 649-9718
Dinner at a new restaurant on Telegraph Avenue in a location that's housed at least five restaurants in the last dozen years. We wish this place well; it shows promise and deserves its chance to make its way. We opened with a plate of patatas braves, nicely roasted potato wedges served with aïoli and a tomato confiture; then I went on to rather too complicated a dish: steamed ling cod (very nicely done) which had been battered, in a sense, with shoestring potatoes and served with kale and crisply steamed snap peas. Dessert was a delicious Seckel pear, poached, with honey and an over-acidulated whipped gastrique, a bit too recherché for my taste.
A decent Martini; then a nice Albariño, 2010; later, a surprisingly good house-made approach to an authentic Spanish anis•Origen, 2826 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley; (510) 848-9200