I went to Chez Panisse with no expectations. It was hard to book a reservation so I figured it’ll be good for prix fixe meal. For almost $600 for 2, it was a bit underwhelming. The food was decent and no dish really wowed. It was good food. The pace of the meal was spaced out and not monitored fir our table when we finished our course. While the plates for the main meals were big, it didn’t feel like you’ll be full at the end of the meal. There are homemade bread like Acme that can hold you over. For the price, it didn’t win me over.
We ate off of the prix fixe menu and were underwhelmed. The dessert and aperitif were good, but the mains were not memorable and the fish was dry. For the price of the meal, I just expected more. It was still worth it just to experience the history and cultural significance of the restaurant, but there are much better restaurants at this price point in the Bay Area. Eating at their café without a set menu could be better.
Solid fare at this classic institution, but it didn’t light my world on fire. The carrot soup was very lovely, as were the anchovies to start. The duck for main was well cooked but the broccoli and polenta were actually the stars of the show for me, both were cooked perfectly and interesting flavours. I ended with a very good strawberry sherbet and ginger snap which I think was probably my favourite course. The service was very good, but I was a little disappointed at the standard offering from such an iconic eatery.
Beautiful restaurant with attention to detail also represented in food both in presentation & palate. Restaurant set menu prix fix option wine pairing. Upstairs cafe more vibrant atmosphere. New England clam chowder is divine.
Chez Panisse is a thought-provoking showcase for the breadth and quality of ingredients produced in California, but the resultant dishes were quite unremarkable. While I think the quality is beyond question - there simply isn't a better version of the ingredient or technique - the final dish is overly familiar: conventional salads, a Sunday roast, low-effort deserts. In other words, the sort of food you can easily do yourself or find in dozens of other places. So while Chez Panisse is a paragon of down-to-earth cooking using the best of local ingredients, the pleasant surprises or experience value which justify this price were completely missing. My benchmark is Steirereck in Vienna, which has similar aspirations as a showcase for unexpected local ingredients, but combines them cleverly to create totally unique and delicious dishes which we reminisce about months later.
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