Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Chez Panisse, Berkeley, California

Local halibut crudo with tomato confetti and basil oil

That plate above may look like a random scattering of vegetables, but that was probably intentional given that they called it "tomato confetti" on the menu. To be more specific, it was the local halibut crudo with tomato confetti and basil oil starter in tonight's set menu at Chez Panisse (1517 Shattuck Avenue, 510-548-5525), the influential institution in Berkeley specializing in local ingredients that has spawned a bunch of other places like Cowgirl Creamery and Acme Bread Company.

The food was pretty much like I expected; of premium quality and effusing of freshness. And while everything that arrived at our table tonight was done to a high standard (those radishes in the starter above, for example, were sliced impressively thin), the flavors weren't really edgy enough to make it memorable for me. In that sense, it reminded me a bit of my experience with Gordon Ramsay's food; fresh and very respectable as fine dining should be, but just not so unique to get me excited like Santi, Keller, or Robuchon would.

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