Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Twice in Berkeley

Berkeley, May 14, 2013—
LUNCH WITH ANN TODAY at a favorite place of hers, and one we neglect — it just seems to be off our track. My smoked-trout salad took me back to early days at Chez Panisse, forty years ago: frisée, radicchio, flaky strips of trout lightly smoked in house.

(Cafe Rouge boasts a fine retail meat counter we too often neglect, too: in addition to this trout, the roast porchetta looked irresistible.)

Dessert: Brioche bread pudding, a little bland I thought, but flavored with cherries, grappa, and whipped cream: nice and summery.
• Café Rouge, 1782 Fourth Street, Berkeley; (510) 525-1440
Then an early supper at a place new to us, with friends from Chez Panisse. Seven of us at table, and much sharing of things — not my favorite sort of meal; in fact, not really an integrated meal, more a sort of grazing. But fun, rather like racing across a new country to find out what parts you want to go back to to really explore in depth.

Trouble was, just about everything was really good, really worth exploring in depth. We'll return. In the meantime:
Jicama & cucumber chile arbol & lime
Guacamole w/ chips & 3 salsas
Tlayuda: Smashed garbanzo beans, potatoes, quesillo, wild nettles
Enchilada: Heritage pork, mole coloradito, crema
Tamal: Fulton Valley chicken, mole negro
Roasted organic turkey trio of moles, braised collard greens
Artichokes and potatoes “estofado” serrano chile, epazote
Mixed baby lettuces radish, herbs, sherry vinaigrette
Midnight black beans de olla
Achiote rice
You get the idea. I'm told the Margaritas were delicious. Downtown Shattuck Avenue is definitely on an upswing: Comal felt like a Portland restaurant.
Rosé, Arnot-Roberts (Healdsburg), 2012: fresh, sound, pleasant
• Comal, 2020 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; (510) 926.6300

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