Oakland, California, August 12, 2015 —TWO REALLY DELICIOUS salads today. At dinner, the huevo a la flamenca you see here: a very nicely poached egg with Serrano ham, fresh shell beans, and roasted peppers, with a bit of watercress to set things off.
That started off dinner, whose main course was a signature dish, "duck two ways," the leg made into a confit and pan-grilled, the breast sliced and sautéed. This was at a restaurant locally famous for its double duck dinners, a restaurant that meant quite a bit to us when it first opened, but which we've felt has somewhat settled into a routine in the last few years. It is in fact closing at the end of the month, after a heroic stand of forty years, no mean achievement.
The dessert was really quite delicious, a rose-water-flavored panna cotta with apricots and pecans; and our first appetizer, shared among the four of us at table, was a silky duck-liver flan with toast, cornichons, and olives, a very beautiful thing.
Cabernet sauvignon (with 7% Merlot and 7% Petit verdot), Ridge "Montebello", 1993: fully mature but ready for a few more years, deep and delicious with a fine finish (thanks, John!)
THE OTHER SALAD had provided our lunch: Halibut tartare with lettuce, avocado, and Meyer lemon, in a perfectly calculated vinaigrette. The lettuce was the "Little Gems" variety, crisp and substantial; the vinaigrette was creamy; the halibut clean and full of flavor — beautifully conceived, this dish, and of course executed just as well.
Verdicchio di Matelica, Colle Stefano, 2014: flinty, crisp, nicely matched to the halibut• Café Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California; 510-548-5525
☛Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants