Eastside Road, February 8, 2013—OVER AND OVER AGAIN we return to the Café. Of course we have every reason to: not only is it dependably, consistently good, in every dimension; not only have we been able to count on it in one configuration or another for forty years and more : but also we have been associated with it all that time. I even worked upstairs, where the present café has prevailed for thirty years now and more, when the restaurant was new. In fact I think I was the first person fired from Chez Panisse. (Something to do with two alpha males in one building. The right one was retained.)
So after a month away the Café was the first place we turned to, for another midday dinner. I had a fine rocket salad and this chicken, braised in the oven, served with turnips and bok choy and red polenta. The Café is a fine restaurant, with what I think has become one of the most consistently interesting and nourishing menus around: six or eight appetizers including salads and pizzette; four or five main courses including fish, poultry, and meat, with a vegetarian alternative always available as well; good fruit if you want it, tempting desserts. Of course I'm partial, and declare no objectivity whatsoever when it comes to Chez Panisse.
Grillo (Sicily); Bourgogne rouge• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; (510) 548-5049.
Monday-Thursday 11:30-2:45, 5:00-10:30 pm; Friday-Saturday 11:30-3:00, 5:00-11:30 pm