Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chez Panisse Lunch Two

Today was a front room day, about half way through you can see in the distance the porch room, it's where I'd like to sit with Neil, but seating is random I guess which is strange given they take reservations and even stranger since it will be my third lunch in a week, you'd kind of think they make an effort? As always they are very professional and friendly in there instance there is nothing they can do and of course any where you have a seat is a good place. Although having now sat in the front and the back I like the back better.

I started lunch off with a simple green salad, it was heavy on bitter greens and lightly dressed, a little red wine vinegar, olive oil a titch of mustard and some bandol vinegar as well. Dressing salads is much more of an art than it appears. Finding balance is very challenging, to not over dress the greens so that they are rendered simply crunchy bits with some heavy or overly acidic oil slick dousing them. This was a perfect plate of salad greens. Again, to flog this idea of local, organic and fresh, it really helps when the greens you are dressing taste so good to start with.

My main course was a Moroccan style dish of lamb meatballs and couscous. It was subtly flavored almost to a fault, the plate was beautifully composed with an artful spoon of yogurt on one section, which I wished was served on the side so I could have put it where I wanted it, a side of Harissa to add some spice would have made it perfect. As it was it was delightful, but I would have like to have seen a bolder flavor approach with this dish.

Dessert was fun: a fancy take on Neapolitan ice cream. A layer of raspberry, hazelnut and chocolate, served with the mini crinkly chocolate cookies and splattered with chocolate sauce. The intense raspberry ice cream was a perfect bright note in the otherwise low key seductiveness of the hazelnut and chocolate.

The waitress was like all the staff a real charmer and when I asked about the chocolate cookies she brought me a copy of Simple Cooking and showed me the recipe.

My hope is to be able to sit on the porch for my next, last and third lunch on Monday, for some reason the receptionists are not willing to commit to this, I guess it has something to do with the way they seat people, maybe I'm just being a pushy New Yorker, I understand you need to have some leeway when making reservations in case an old regular shows up or some unexpected VIP.

Anyway, it is, all things considered, a small thing as really any table at Chez Panisse is a good table, I feel very lucky to be able to eat there three times in one trip.

I'm here in SF until the 1st with lots more from this city of food!

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