So after reading this book, among others, I was determined to visit Chez Panisse on my visit to San Fran. I practically squealed with delight to the reservationist when I found out they had a table available. And, I was equally excited that Chris and Bryan were willing to partake in my culinary dream meal.
We started the meal with some Acme bread (baked by a former Chez Panisse chef) and butter. We also had the most incredible olives. The brine was out of this world.
To start, we had a Russian salad of dressed winter vegetables, farm egg, and tongue with chicory.
The dressing was light and creamy and went excellently with both the greens, vegetables, tongue, and egg. This was probably my favorite course of the meal. It was an inventive salad but tasted so different than most run-of-the-mill salad courses.
The main course was a Hungarian fish stew with new season paprika. The fish (clams, rockfish, and cod I believe) were served in a very hearty and robust sauce.
With the fish were herb noodles and creme fraiche. These noodles were out of this world. They looked so simple but the taste was absolutely addictive. They were buttery and so fresh.
For dessert was a Meyer lemon tart. It was incredible how profound the lemon was. The tart was bursting with fresh citrus.
Overall, the service was excellent. Glasses were refilled promptly, we were able to taste wine prior to ordering and we were given more olives :)
One of the most exciting parts of the experience was the tour of the kitchen (ask and thou shall receive, I suppose). By the end, we were probably the last people in the restaurant.
They were serving pork a few days after our meal. Gross, yah?
Chez Panisse doesn’t have a lot of storage space since everything is cooked so fresh, so there is no need for a huge refrigerator or freezer. They have about 95 covers per night in the downstairs restaurant, the upstairs cafe seats more.
I would love to return. The food is not exotic, but it is simple cuisine prepared excellently and creatively. The wine list is extensive, the atmosphere is soothing, and the service was exemplary. Absolutely no complaints, and my fear of hyping up the restaurant was absolved by the first bite.