Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chez Panisse, July 15, 2013

On the occasion of our one year anniversary, my wife and I went back to a restaurant we had visited for her 30th birthday - Chez Panisse, in Berkeley.  Most people spend their anniversaries strictly as a couple; we broke with normalcy to bring along my mother-in-law, who was visiting from Tennessee in order to help with the baby.  She had always dreamed of going to Chez Panisse, so we surprised her with a reservation to the recently reopened restaurant (closed for several months due to fire damage).  Here are some photos from our dinner.

The exterior of the restaurant on Shattuck Avenue is at once understated and distinctive. 

Our anniversary was the day after Bastille Day; the French-inspired restaurant celebrated accordingly.

My wife and mother-in-law were happy to be out for a few hours without having to change a diaper (thanks Mom and Dad).  [For the record, I've gotten pretty good at changing diapers myself]

Fun with in-camera effects...

We were a bit early, so we went upstairs to the cafe for some drinks.  The cafe was my introduction to Chez Panisse, back in 2001 at the age of 19.  Suffice it to say that their kind treatment of an under-dressed teenager and his female friend gained a lifetime devotee.

The cafe upstairs.

My wife was ecstatic to be able to drink wine again after 9 months of teetotaling.

The ladies had a pinot grigio rose; I had a Norwegian cedar ale from Moonlight Brewing.

We were seated at 6pm downstairs in a room overlooking the patio; I really enjoyed the location (notice the freshly installed woodwork).

The once under-dressed 19 year old has transformed into an over-dressed 31 year old.

Our prix-fixe menu for the evening.

The food started with olives dressed with mint and Meyer lemon.

Our wine for the evening - a 2011 Annia by Massican Winery in Napa (a blend of tocai friulano, ribolla gialla and chardonnay).

Our appetizer was an eggplant and red pepper tart with purslane salad.  I could have eaten this all day long.

Our main course was equally amazing = Sicilian fish and shellfish stew (featuring sea bass and calamari) with saffron couscous.  The flavors were divine.

Drink options before dessert.

Being the driver, I opted for the cappuccino; the ladies gravitated towards Muscato and tawny port.

Dessert was Sun Crest peach sherbet with red wine and raspberry gelee.  Truly delectable (and more complex than it might appear).  The Happy Anniversary note was a delightful and thoughtful touch (they really do take the comments on Open Table seriously).

My mother-in-law had a great time!

As did her daughter.

Thank you, Chez Panisse!  You made our 1st anniversary especially memorable.
[Those are candied red currants and caramel chocolates, by the way :-) ]

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