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12
Nov 05
Sat

Chez Panisse, Berkeley

Berkeley’s across the bay from San Francisco, but it’s worth the hike out to this quaint restaurant. Similar to Gramercy Tavern, it’s split into a cafe downstairs and a restaurant upstairs. The ambience is a lot more intimate than Gramercy, with bright but warm lighting, smaller tables and much less noise. It’s a good choice for a date.

Service was largely flawless, but in a clinical sort of way.

Chez Panisse runs a different tasting menu each day of the week and on the Saturday we were served with a 5 course one. It was pretty good, but by way of comparison, I found Gramercy’s to be better. It’d slot into the one or two hat category back in Sydney quite nicely. Damage was USD75 per person, plus a mandatory 17% service charge (which is effectively the tip) and an 8% state sales tax.

Asking if the tea and coffee is free
When the desserts are cleared, normally a waiter comes around and asks if anyone wants tea or coffee. The thing is, at some of these types of restaurants it’s free, and sometimes it’s in excess of $20. Being more than a little cash strapped by this stage of the trip, it was important to figure this out. However, it didn’t seem quite appropriate to ask, “Mate, is that free?” One alternative was, “Does that incur a supplement?” but I would have choked on the pretentiousness. I settled on asking, “Is that complimentary?” (It wasn’t.)

Chez Panisse