Monday, March 21, 2011

Cafe at Chez Panisse

The Cafe at Chez Panisse has always held memories for me: it was the place where I took my wife-to-be on our first date on the afternoon of December 31, 1985; it was the place where I heard Fritz Streif, the cafe's host in the 80's, regale myself and others with tales of just having flown over the still smoldering Mount St. Helens in May of 81, barely a month after the cafe opened; in its former days, pre-renovation in 1981, it was also known as the cafe, but didn't have its own kitchen, pizza oven - it was just a wet bar & service area with a number of tables for overflow from the restaurant, as well as for lunch & drink throughout the day & night.  Most of all, I remember the after hours parties in the "cabinet particulier", a six seat private dining room off the east side of the room about where the host is found in the current cafe.

But little does this past history matter now.  The people I drank and caroused around with at that time now have different entertainments, as do I.  But every now and again I have the desire to eat at Chez Panisse.  Usually we go there in December near or on my birthday for a Monday night dinner downstairs. Or occasionally for an anniversary lunch if we're around at the end of the year.  But last Saturday I took my wife and two friends who had never been to Chez Panisse for lunch and was incredibly impressed. 

I've only photographed my entree and dessert, but these pictures should tell the story:

 Halibut with buerre blanc et legumes

Then dessert: a bittersweet mousse au chocolat

The appetizers were great; the Acme upstairs bread was super; the wine exquisite; the service and timing were perfect, and the company great.  It was like falling in love all over again.  Again.

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