Chez Panisse downstairs


#1

Went on impulse on Monday because the menu sounded so good. I don’t know what it is about their lighting but I could not get decent photos with or without flash. I guess I need to re-learn what I forgot about ƒ-stop, shutter speed, and ISO (since my new gadget has those settings).

Fried olives were nice. I like that they don’t pander by pitting them.

Salade au lardons was tasty but it left me wanting a big bowl of it. I’m not sure it’s something that should be served in an appetizer portion.

The chicken was great. Note to self, order black truffles.

Baba was very nice, not too sweet.

Before drinks, $75 a head ($98.55 with tax and service charge), very reasonable for the quality.


#2

I’ve always wanted to go there. Do they still do one set meal each night? The chicken dish seems great. Is that a poached egg with the salad? I hear ya’ about lighting in certain restaurants.


#3

It’s not dimly lit. I think it must be the type of bulb, maybe LEDs. Other places that seem just as bright I can get excellent photos. At CP, not only did photos in available light come out dim, but with flash they were completely washed out.

That’s a poached egg, standard ingredient of salade aux lardons. This is more like what I think a serving should be:

Downstairs has a different set menu every night. Price ranges from $75 on Monday to $125 on Friday and Saturday.

http://www.chezpanisse.com/menus/restaurant-menu/


#4

[quote=“robert, post:3, topic:4988”]
That’s a poached egg, standard ingredient of salade aux lardons.
[/quote]That’s what I thought, but it looked so big in proportion to the salad. The NYT recipe looks more like it. Thanks!


#5

The egg was definitely out of proportion. Good, though.


#6

Although it is a set menu, they will make a vegetarian option. I had that once when the main was something I didn’t care to eat, and the alternative was excellent…


#7

Oh, I can imagine their vedge menu is great!


#8

If you don’t want to do the prix-fixe, it makes more sense to me to eat upstairs. I believe substitutions often come from that menu.


#9

Food sounds good and somehow Chez Panisse seems like an underrated gem if anything, because places in SF continue to rack up 1 Michelin star yet Chez Panisse lost it. I haven’t been to Chez Panisse in a while, but I’d be surprised if the food isn’t as good as Aster, Auberge du Soleil, Luce, Madera, Nico, Octavia, The Village Pub, etc.

One question for those who might know - since they switched to Resy…they only post menus for 1 week, yet reservations seem to be fully booked until two weeks out. Does everyone just reserve without knowing the menu? Given that each day is different…some days sound more to my liking than others.


#10

If you reserve past the coming Saturday, you don’t know what the menu will be, except that Monday menus are announced at the beginning of the month.


#11

I was there Wednesday and had the following:

Pan-seared Monterey Bay squid with chicories, chervil, and marjoram
Wild mushroom risotto cake with green garlic, Parmesan, and black truffle
Rancho Llano Seco pork loin roasted with fennel and rosemary;
with creamy polenta, sautéed greens,
and mustard blossom fritters
Meyer lemon and tangerine sorbetti meringata

They also sent out a little crab toast thingie with an aperitivo.
Dinner was lovely. The dessert may have been the best I’ve ever had there.

We had a white burgundy to start, and then a bandol rouge to finish. The bandol wasn’t the first attempt at a red. The first choice was nearly undrinkable for both of us. The waiter handled it marvelously, without even blinking, and replaced it with the bandol I was leaning toward in the first place.

Overall, food and service couldn’t be beat. But again, for those looking for that “wow bite of a lifetime,” this is not your restaurant. That costs $300+pp and then you can only hope one of the dozen courses is going to make you tingle in your special places.


#12

I’ve had some wow bites at Chez Panisse, but more to the point, I’ve had many of my best meals there.

Of course, I don’t consider a dictatorial endurance tasting menu of canape-sized bites a meal.


#13

I’ve had “wow bites” here but that isn’t where I go to look for them. That said, the first bite of dessert was pretty wow.


#14

Went Thursday for a celebration.

apéritif: Prosecco with thyme syrup

potato chip with crème fraîche and pickled anchovy

Eggplant salad with mint, pickled chanterelles, tomato bruschetta, and prosciutto

Monterey Bay squid stuffed with scallop mousse with caper and nasturtium salsa

Grilled Cattail Creek Ranch lamb rack, loin, and leg with summer squash roasted with breadcrumbs, chard and Parmesan gratin, and niçoise olive tapenade

cheese course: Bohemian Creamery FlowerPower and Andante Dairy Impromptu

Crème caramel with summer berries and nectarines

tisane of spearmint and lemon verbena

mignardises: marionberry gelée and almond dragees

Great meal overall with no weak spots. Before wine, service charge, and tax, $100 a head plus $18 for the cheese plate. The standouts were the chard gratin, which was just chard, amaranth, cream, and Reggiano, and the nectarines on the dessert plate, which were so ripe and complex they made me think of cheese.


#15

Neglected to take a photo of the little bite of melon,ricotta salata, and herbs that came with the aperitivo, which was a Saville orange vin d’orange.

Lobster, scallops, peak season tomatoes, rocket. I think they skipped the basil or else used it very sparingly. The Vouvray demi-sec was perfect with this.

Duck and ricotta agnolotti in a rich duck broth, perfect pairing with the Rossese.

Tasted like porchetta. So good. Those are crisp sage leaves on the pork. Out of curiosity I got a glass of the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino “Pertimali” that was in their wine pairing but it was pretty boring compared with the Rossese. The server said they’d wanted to pair the Rossese but didn’t have enough. So lucky us.

Complimentary mint and lemon verbena tisane was a nice palate cleanser after the fatty pork. Too full to do the cheese course.

This was fantastic. If those aren’t little crumbles of Lindsey Shere’s almond tart filling they’re pretty darn close.

We really lucked out last night. We always eat very well at Chez Panisse but this was a standout.