We went to Chez Panisse for dinner today. Or I suppose it’s yesterday now. We weren’t able to get reservations for the first seating at 6pm so we had reservations for 9:15pm. But that meant that we didn’t get out from dinner until after 11pm, which, youch! This is the second time we’ve been to Chez Panisse, but the first time with the camera. :D
We arrived and were seated after only a few minutes’ wait. Since it’s prix fixe, we didn’t have to decide anything, which is fine by me. I did decide to go for the wine pairings though. They then brought out little fresh radishes as an amuse bouche. Fresh radishes are spicy, did you know that? I know I didn’t. :p Anyhows, I think Yut liked them better than I did. Last time we were there we had olives as the random “small bite,” which I appreciated more than Yut, so I guess it all evens out. They also brought out two types of bread, one sourdough dark, and the other was the little yam shaped bread which was my favorite. Between me and Yut, we went through like 4 yam sized breads, which is a lot, but we couldn’t stop. Only we’re paying for it now. Btw, I’ll mention the bread over and over again, and I’ll call it yam bread, but it has nothing to do with yams, it’s just sort of shaped like a yam or sweet potato.
Heirloom tomato toast with aioli, pancetta, and farm egg
On the website, it’s described as “Chopped salad with heirloom tomatoes, bacon, and farm egg” which I think is also accurate since pancetta is an Italian bacon that’s cured but not smoked. Anyways, it tasted like the lightest thinnest sliced bacon ever. The egg was also perfect, with soft but not too runny yolk, and cooked whites. And the tomatoes! Yum, I love tomatoes anyways, but these had really good tomato flavor and also were like three different colors. Even Yut liked the tomatoes and he’s not a big tomato fan. And the little salad on the side had arugula, which I luuurve. I want to say this was my fave course, but it’s hard for me to judge this stuff, cos of course as time went on, we were fuller and fuller and it gets harder to appreciate things. Still this course had an advantage because (imho) Chez Panisse does this fresh perfect ingredients stuff better than anywhere else. Also this was paired with a white Northern Italian wine that was sooo delicious. I wish I remembered the name. I even asked the waiter, but I cannot remember now.
Pan-fried local petrale sole with almonds and parsley
The crust on this fish was so yummy and crunchy, but the insides were really moist. However, we think it was cooked in butter like you’d see on the Food Network — a lot! Plus the almonds! Well we’re just guessing. But after a few loaves of bread and butter, and the aioli from the previous course, this was almost too rich. Still, some yummy fish, really fresh, no bad fishy taste or weirdo dirt taste or anything like that. By dirt taste I mean that taste that farmed fish has sometimes. I don’t know how to characterize it, so I call it the weirdo dirt taste. :D So okay, I tried to be all critical analysis there, but to be honest, we ate every bit and then used the yam bread to clean the plate. Anyhows, I suxors at this food criticizing stuff. I mean, I just love food and eating, what can I say? :p
Grilled Wolfe Ranch quail with succotash,white corn polenta, and onion rings
The quail was good, nicely cooked, really juicy, but I dunno, not special like I couldn’t imagine it done this well elsewhere. Like I would say the petrale sole was more special in that sense. We thought the onion rings were a great example of onion rings: really light batter (almost like tempura), really fresh and sweet onion. The polenta was polenta, not much flavor in and of themselves, good with everything else. The succotash was really good too. I liked the soft cooked beans with the sweet corn flavor and zucchini(?) crunch. Yums!
Flavor King pluot tart with mascarpone cream
This was like pluot preserve (the ridges are pieces of pluot I think) on a flaky phyllo-like crust. Sweet but not too sweet, with a good tart taste. I enjoyed this a lot, especially because we ordered a little French press worth of coffee. Very smooth and good.
Overall, I would say that the food was really good both times we’ve been, with some really amazing parts and some parts that are more like normal levels of good (which is still really good). The service was better last time, the waiter was just nicer and seemed more on top of things. But anyhows, it was lovely. Especially for a Tuesday night. :)