Chez Panisse

★★★★☆
37.8798 -122.269
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510-548-5525

1517 Shattuck Ave

Berkeley, CA

94709

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.

I grew up in Berkeley in the 70's and just are here for the first time so I was expecting a lot!. Beautiful atmosphere, but I was not wowed by the food...

3
★★★☆☆

I grew up in Berkeley in the 70's and just are here for the first time so I was expecting a lot!. Beautiful atmosphere, but I was not wowed by the food...

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.

Their dishes were all very fresh. Just from one bite, and I could taste each ingredient's original, natural flavors. I would recommend every dish--pastas, pizzas, meats... And of course, their desserts are heavenly. Especially their ice creams.

5
★★★★★

Their dishes were all very fresh. Just from one bite, and I could taste each ingredient's original, natural flavors. I would recommend every dish--pastas, pizzas, meats... And of course, their desserts are heavenly. Especially their ice creams.

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I ate here for the prix fixe dinner, where they serve you a fixed dinner. The portions were small, but the food was incredibly fresh and tasty. Our server was delightful--it was our first time there, so he walked us through the whole experience. They served us rabbit for the main course, and it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! The only thing that prevents me from giving it 5 stars was the price and the portion size, but I guess you have to pay for delicious food!

4
★★★★☆

I ate here for the prix fixe dinner, where they serve you a fixed dinner. The portions were small, but the food was incredibly fresh and tasty. Our server was delightful--it was our first time there, so he walked us through the whole experience. They served us rabbit for the main course, and it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! The only thing that prevents me from giving it 5 stars was the price and the portion size, but I guess you have to pay for delicious food!

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.

I recommend selecting this restaurant for lunch. The menu is flexible as opposed to Dinner which is prix fixe. High quality fresh food. Truly a pleasure.

5
★★★★★

I recommend selecting this restaurant for lunch. The menu is flexible as opposed to Dinner which is prix fixe. High quality fresh food. Truly a pleasure.

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.

My husband and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary at Chez Panisse. It was a dream come true. I have always wanted to eat there but could not afford it in my student days. The service was expert and the food was to die for. We had an apricot souffle for dessert. I can not begin to describe how good it tasted.

5
★★★★★

My husband and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary at Chez Panisse. It was a dream come true. I have always wanted to eat there but could not afford it in my student days. The service was expert and the food was to die for. We had an apricot souffle for dessert. I can not begin to describe how good it tasted.

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.

Welcome to the legendary restaurant of the founder of CA cuisine, Alice Waters, The food is always fresh and amazing. You'll probably need a reservation way in advance. The cafe for lunch is a slightly cheaper alternative. This is hands down the best place in the Bay Area.

5
★★★★★

Welcome to the legendary restaurant of the founder of CA cuisine, Alice Waters, The food is always fresh and amazing. You'll probably need a reservation way in advance. The cafe for lunch is a slightly cheaper alternative. This is hands down the best place in the Bay Area.

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.

How can anyone say anything negative about this place? They offer some of the best selection of any restaurants I've ever been to. They are rated 5 stars by Zagat and they deserve it. For those of you who don't know, they offer dinner twice a night and charge a flat fee per person. Its expensive, $70-100+ for each person, but the food is exotic and make for a night to remember.

5
★★★★★

How can anyone say anything negative about this place? They offer some of the best selection of any restaurants I've ever been to. They are rated 5 stars by Zagat and they deserve it. For those of you who don't know, they offer dinner twice a night and charge a flat fee per person. Its expensive, $70-100+ for each person, but the food is exotic and make for a night to remember.

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.

I'll likely be skewered for writing anything bad about an institution, but simply put, I like choices. The Restaurant (downstairs) offers a single menu. Sure, you get a great experience, but what if you just don't eat rabbit or veal, or pork tenderloin?

Go upstairs - you get a full menu, with amazing choices. The food is fresh and fabulous- you just simply can't go wrong. So, maybe I'm a heretic, but like I said, I like choices.

4
★★★★☆

I'll likely be skewered for writing anything bad about an institution, but simply put, I like choices. The Restaurant (downstairs) offers a single menu. Sure, you get a great experience, but what if you just don't eat rabbit or veal, or pork tenderloin?

Go upstairs - you get a full menu, with amazing choices. The food is fresh and fabulous- you just simply can't go wrong. So, maybe I'm a heretic, but like I said, I like choices.

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Latest reviews from Citysearch.

.

can't believe why people fall for this place, I left here feeling completely conned.

I have two theories:

One is the old "King New Clothes" theory that no one wants to be called out as an ignoramus and everyone is pretending that the real basic food they charge a fortune for here, is actually gourmet.

The other (and please don't be offended, American friends) is that 90% of of the people that eat here have never been to France or eaten in a real French restaurant, so think this is worth all this the money to eat in a "French Restaurant".

Believe me everyone, and I speak as a European guy who has family in Paris who is often in France, this has as much in common with even an average Paris restaurant as the imitation Paris in Las Vegas has with the real Paris.

Whoever runs this place seems to think that if you give a restaurant a French name, have some waiters with European accents, make your guests wait forever between courses (in genuine French restaurants you never have to wait this long) that equals a French restaurant, and this allows them to mark up their really poor food by huge amounts. Well, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you are not fooling me.

The service was slow as a glacier, we arrived bang on time for our 6pm table, but it was not ready, so were told we had to wait in the bar. The staff then forgot about us, so at around 6.15 we had to ask them what was going on and were told our table was ready.

After about a ten minute wait, they brought olives, after about another ten minutes they brought bread. It took around another 30 minutes for a really basic starter to arrive. Then unbelievably around an hour for the main course.

Now here was where the biggest disappointment was. Before the main course arrived I was still slightly buying the line that if you wait a long time you get something special. Boy was I wrong! I'm a vegetarian, and was promised a "vegetarian dish". What I got was exactly the same as what my wife got, but minus the chicken and plus more chickpeas. It was actually some vegetables, chickpeas in warm water! I could have done better myself! It was at that point that I wished we had just gone to the really excellent Claremont Diner and paid $20 for their great food.

Towards the end of the evening I was beginning to laugh out loud at the nerve of the people that run this place to perpetrate such a huge con. Our final bill was over $180! For this we got the pleasure of spending around 2 hours waiting around for food and when it came it was chickpeas in warm water!

Now I know there are those of you out there thinking now that I am just a poor ignoramus who does not appreciate good food and the French ambiance. Let me say again I know France, have been there many times, had many great meals there.

I left the restaurant singing The "Who"s "Won't get fooled again" under my breath. Need I say more?

1
★☆☆☆☆

can't believe why people fall for this place, I left here feeling completely conned.

I have two theories:

One is the old "King New Clothes" theory that no one wants to be called out as an ignoramus and everyone is pretending that the real basic food they charge a fortune for here, is actually gourmet.

The other (and please don't be offended, American friends) is that 90% of of the people that eat here have never been to France or eaten in a real French restaurant, so think this is worth all this the money to eat in a "French Restaurant".

Believe me everyone, and I speak as a European guy who has family in Paris who is often in France, this has as much in common with even an average Paris restaurant as the imitation Paris in Las Vegas has with the real Paris.

Whoever runs this place seems to think that if you give a restaurant a French name, have some waiters with European accents, make your guests wait forever between courses (in genuine French restaurants you never have to wait this long) that equals a French restaurant, and this allows them to mark up their really poor food by huge amounts. Well, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you are not fooling me.

The service was slow as a glacier, we arrived bang on time for our 6pm table, but it was not ready, so were told we had to wait in the bar. The staff then forgot about us, so at around 6.15 we had to ask them what was going on and were told our table was ready.

After about a ten minute wait, they brought olives, after about another ten minutes they brought bread. It took around another 30 minutes for a really basic starter to arrive. Then unbelievably around an hour for the main course.

Now here was where the biggest disappointment was. Before the main course arrived I was still slightly buying the line that if you wait a long time you get something special. Boy was I wrong! I'm a vegetarian, and was promised a "vegetarian dish". What I got was exactly the same as what my wife got, but minus the chicken and plus more chickpeas. It was actually some vegetables, chickpeas in warm water! I could have done better myself! It was at that point that I wished we had just gone to the really excellent Claremont Diner and paid $20 for their great food.

Towards the end of the evening I was beginning to laugh out loud at the nerve of the people that run this place to perpetrate such a huge con. Our final bill was over $180! For this we got the pleasure of spending around 2 hours waiting around for food and when it came it was chickpeas in warm water!

Now I know there are those of you out there thinking now that I am just a poor ignoramus who does not appreciate good food and the French ambiance. Let me say again I know France, have been there many times, had many great meals there.

I left the restaurant singing The "Who"s "Won't get fooled again" under my breath. Need I say more?

Pros: Nice atmosphere

Cons: Exactly, this place is a huge con

.

I would hazard a guess that it has been a while since Alice visited her restaurant. If she came, I doubt she would recognize some things. First of all, the maitre'de was officious, making us go upstairs because our table wasn't ready, even though upstairs was overflowing. (By the way, only one bathroom for all those people is a little strange, no?). He wasn't there when we left, for good or ill, so we learned how to use the revolving coat hanger system, which was pretty cool (why it got 3 stars instead of 2).
Although the leek salad was very tasty, the ravioli in a weak soup was similar to a common wanton without soup. Very strange. The pork was not too bad, but certainly nothing to write home (or anywhere else) about. The service was also common, making it obvious why they force a 17% gratuity on all the checks--one gets the feeling that we were not the first to question what kind of tip we would have to give them.
Interestingly, one of the servers spoke with a heavy European accent--until, that is, he started talking with one of his bros from a nearby town, when suddenly the accent vanished.
It seems some regulars get good treatment, but we will not be among them...
I recommend Alice come visit her restaurant, in disguise, to get a real view. Then again, maybe she would not need a disguise.

3
★★★☆☆

I would hazard a guess that it has been a while since Alice visited her restaurant. If she came, I doubt she would recognize some things. First of all, the maitre'de was officious, making us go upstairs because our table wasn't ready, even though upstairs was overflowing. (By the way, only one bathroom for all those people is a little strange, no?). He wasn't there when we left, for good or ill, so we learned how to use the revolving coat hanger system, which was pretty cool (why it got 3 stars instead of 2).
Although the leek salad was very tasty, the ravioli in a weak soup was similar to a common wanton without soup. Very strange. The pork was not too bad, but certainly nothing to write home (or anywhere else) about. The service was also common, making it obvious why they force a 17% gratuity on all the checks--one gets the feeling that we were not the first to question what kind of tip we would have to give them.
Interestingly, one of the servers spoke with a heavy European accent--until, that is, he started talking with one of his bros from a nearby town, when suddenly the accent vanished.
It seems some regulars get good treatment, but we will not be among them...
I recommend Alice come visit her restaurant, in disguise, to get a real view. Then again, maybe she would not need a disguise.

Pros: Salads

Cons: Everything else

.

Aperiti:, because we don't drink, they poured us a Navarro Vineyards Gewurztraminer grape juice, a pleasant surprise, if dubious for a recovering alcoholic, which one of us was.

The service was not slow as some have complained, though at times it obtrusive.

The caviar and smoked fish (steelhead in both cases, we guessed) with the watercress salad all tasted quite fresh. The buckwheat blinis--why does Chez Panisse always have buckwheat something on every menu and has had that for decades--were soggy; but still went with the caviar. And there was creme fraiche ( not mentioned.)

This was a decent crab cake, but it broke up too easily. The braised Belgian endives with Meyer lemon--they called it Meyer lemon ?salsa,? an odd use of words-- had an acrid taste; an unusual but not happy choice.

The duck breast slices came with a tiny, loose patch of risotto--again with Meyer lemon, and too lemony. . The duck breast slices with a light "reduction sauce," a sort of nouvelle cuisine effect, were not miraculous, but freshness without interference.

The desert was conventional, but delicious, delicate yet rich. The vanilla-walnut ice cream came with the "chocolate fondant," which one of my companions said was the wrong word. The young girl who made up the deserts said "fondant" was used on this menu just to mean warm cake.

There was some spice with the cake and ice cream, like cardamom, that was lovely, just a dash, a surprise. And then, afterward, candies: a chewy caramel, and??Meyer lemon thumb prints.? But this time, the Meyer lemon read only as lemon, and was not acrid or invasive.

I found the waiter?s insistence on our touring the kitchen made me feel treated like a tourist.

Alice Waters has been a great spokesperson for slow food and fresh food, but she steals all the credit for things she did not invent, and that includes Chez Paniesse itself, of whichw she has never been the principal chef.

4
★★★★☆

Aperiti:, because we don't drink, they poured us a Navarro Vineyards Gewurztraminer grape juice, a pleasant surprise, if dubious for a recovering alcoholic, which one of us was.

The service was not slow as some have complained, though at times it obtrusive.

The caviar and smoked fish (steelhead in both cases, we guessed) with the watercress salad all tasted quite fresh. The buckwheat blinis--why does Chez Panisse always have buckwheat something on every menu and has had that for decades--were soggy; but still went with the caviar. And there was creme fraiche ( not mentioned.)

This was a decent crab cake, but it broke up too easily. The braised Belgian endives with Meyer lemon--they called it Meyer lemon ?salsa,? an odd use of words-- had an acrid taste; an unusual but not happy choice.

The duck breast slices came with a tiny, loose patch of risotto--again with Meyer lemon, and too lemony. . The duck breast slices with a light "reduction sauce," a sort of nouvelle cuisine effect, were not miraculous, but freshness without interference.

The desert was conventional, but delicious, delicate yet rich. The vanilla-walnut ice cream came with the "chocolate fondant," which one of my companions said was the wrong word. The young girl who made up the deserts said "fondant" was used on this menu just to mean warm cake.

There was some spice with the cake and ice cream, like cardamom, that was lovely, just a dash, a surprise. And then, afterward, candies: a chewy caramel, and??Meyer lemon thumb prints.? But this time, the Meyer lemon read only as lemon, and was not acrid or invasive.

I found the waiter?s insistence on our touring the kitchen made me feel treated like a tourist.

Alice Waters has been a great spokesperson for slow food and fresh food, but she steals all the credit for things she did not invent, and that includes Chez Paniesse itself, of whichw she has never been the principal chef.

.

Definitely a Berkeley legend... I heard Bill Clinton always stops by here whenever he is in town. Anyway, the menu is always different, menu du jour french style... wine is excellent. Pricy yes, but it is worth memorializing your special moments.

5
★★★★★

Definitely a Berkeley legend... I heard Bill Clinton always stops by here whenever he is in town. Anyway, the menu is always different, menu du jour french style... wine is excellent. Pricy yes, but it is worth memorializing your special moments.

.

Fresh, local and amazing. Menu changes daily, and is prix-fixe. Be prepare to spend a lot here. The presentation of the food is fantastic, it is delicious and never disappoints.

5
★★★★★

Fresh, local and amazing. Menu changes daily, and is prix-fixe. Be prepare to spend a lot here. The presentation of the food is fantastic, it is delicious and never disappoints.

Pros: food, casual

Cons: price

.

This was a first time visit to the Prix Fix upstairs dining room and it was a dining experience all around. I had friends in from Los Angeles and this was the choice. We made reservations 1 month ahead which was Necessary! The ambiance was warm, inviting and a blend of coppery tones. The open firehearth inside the kitchen was splendid. Although the plates weren't overfilled we still all felt satisfied by the end of the meal. Everything was excellent. We had these little Gruyer Cheesepuffs to start which were unique, delicate and melting in your mouth. Fresh crostinis with sardines that weren't fishy served with fresh figs and prociutto ham, a super tender dish of squid in Romesco sauce that was killer and lamb ribs cooked to perfection. The fresh apricot tartlet was flaky, buttery and full of apricots. I took a tour of the kitchen and was amazed how little room there was yet nothing and no one seemed pressed for space. The walkin refrigerator had sheetpans full of fresh berries and they were dauntingly delicious. (we got a few bites) The staff was super friendly and very very attentive. Our little guest from LA even got a going away gift of Alice Water's daughter's book to take home on her drawings and writings from the years! Talk about Nice! We were all very impressed and very happy with our meal, the service and the restaurant. It was a completely memorable meal worth the wait and even the late 8:45 dining hour.

5
★★★★★

This was a first time visit to the Prix Fix upstairs dining room and it was a dining experience all around. I had friends in from Los Angeles and this was the choice. We made reservations 1 month ahead which was Necessary! The ambiance was warm, inviting and a blend of coppery tones. The open firehearth inside the kitchen was splendid. Although the plates weren't overfilled we still all felt satisfied by the end of the meal. Everything was excellent. We had these little Gruyer Cheesepuffs to start which were unique, delicate and melting in your mouth. Fresh crostinis with sardines that weren't fishy served with fresh figs and prociutto ham, a super tender dish of squid in Romesco sauce that was killer and lamb ribs cooked to perfection. The fresh apricot tartlet was flaky, buttery and full of apricots. I took a tour of the kitchen and was amazed how little room there was yet nothing and no one seemed pressed for space. The walkin refrigerator had sheetpans full of fresh berries and they were dauntingly delicious. (we got a few bites) The staff was super friendly and very very attentive. Our little guest from LA even got a going away gift of Alice Water's daughter's book to take home on her drawings and writings from the years! Talk about Nice! We were all very impressed and very happy with our meal, the service and the restaurant. It was a completely memorable meal worth the wait and even the late 8:45 dining hour.

Pros: the service, the food, the fresh ingredients, the small yet elegant dining room

Cons: calling 1 month in advance and not being able to get an earlier dinner hour seating.

.

I can see that this austere, locally sourced "plain" food was a breakthrough 30 years ago but so many other chefs do it so much better now, not to mention farmhouse trattorias and bistros in Italy, Greece, France and countless green markets across North America. It is food as political statement; the pleasure of the diner seems to be irrelevant. Perhaps a reaction to fussy, overly complicated and elaborately presented fine dining, the current fare at Cafe Chez Panisse is too artless, bland instead of honestly full flavored and downright stingy. A dish of fried Halibut consisted of a chunk of greasy fried fish, a small heap of celery root in a too-mustardy sauce with an unintegrated, harsh-tasting herb floating atop and a single (yes, just one), watery, flavorless new potato poised beside a puddle of starkly grassy, pureed parsley that tasted like cow spew. Missing was any brightness or liveliness of flavor or any full or earthy flavor either. Bread was good but the butter was strictly supermarket. The much touted triple-filtered drinking water was dusty and stale tasting as if a glass of nighttime tap water had sat beside your bed all week. The toasted almond ice cream had a good texture but the unappetizing, charcoal taste of burnt nuts detracted. The accompanying cookie was so hard, I was relieved my dental work survived. The citron green ice tea was a unappealing although probably good for you. The tea tasted like scrapings from the side of a lawn mower.

3
★★★☆☆

I can see that this austere, locally sourced "plain" food was a breakthrough 30 years ago but so many other chefs do it so much better now, not to mention farmhouse trattorias and bistros in Italy, Greece, France and countless green markets across North America. It is food as political statement; the pleasure of the diner seems to be irrelevant. Perhaps a reaction to fussy, overly complicated and elaborately presented fine dining, the current fare at Cafe Chez Panisse is too artless, bland instead of honestly full flavored and downright stingy. A dish of fried Halibut consisted of a chunk of greasy fried fish, a small heap of celery root in a too-mustardy sauce with an unintegrated, harsh-tasting herb floating atop and a single (yes, just one), watery, flavorless new potato poised beside a puddle of starkly grassy, pureed parsley that tasted like cow spew. Missing was any brightness or liveliness of flavor or any full or earthy flavor either. Bread was good but the butter was strictly supermarket. The much touted triple-filtered drinking water was dusty and stale tasting as if a glass of nighttime tap water had sat beside your bed all week. The toasted almond ice cream had a good texture but the unappetizing, charcoal taste of burnt nuts detracted. The accompanying cookie was so hard, I was relieved my dental work survived. The citron green ice tea was a unappealing although probably good for you. The tea tasted like scrapings from the side of a lawn mower.

Pros: Attractive room, lovely flowers

Cons: indifferent, bored servers, indifferent boring food

.

After waiting many years to visit Chez Panisse, since we live on the East Coast and don't get out that way often, we finally got a reservation -- or so we thought. After calling to reconfirm, we were told that we did not have one because we never gave a deposit (which was never requested) and found out that they had taken our phone number incorrectly, which is why we were cancelled. After much conversation, we were accommodated and our reservation was reinstated. We probably would have been better off if it had not been.
The food was average at best, the decor very, very tired. The best part of the meal was the aperitif. The service was very good, but that does not make up for the lackluster meal that followed. The meal was prepared with so little imagination, that it almost felt like I could have made it at home if I wanted to.
We visited other "exceptional" restaurants during this trip -- Gary Danko in San Francisco being one -- and enjoyed them immensely.
Would not recommend Chez Panisse nor would we ever return.

3
★★★☆☆

After waiting many years to visit Chez Panisse, since we live on the East Coast and don't get out that way often, we finally got a reservation -- or so we thought. After calling to reconfirm, we were told that we did not have one because we never gave a deposit (which was never requested) and found out that they had taken our phone number incorrectly, which is why we were cancelled. After much conversation, we were accommodated and our reservation was reinstated. We probably would have been better off if it had not been.
The food was average at best, the decor very, very tired. The best part of the meal was the aperitif. The service was very good, but that does not make up for the lackluster meal that followed. The meal was prepared with so little imagination, that it almost felt like I could have made it at home if I wanted to.
We visited other "exceptional" restaurants during this trip -- Gary Danko in San Francisco being one -- and enjoyed them immensely.
Would not recommend Chez Panisse nor would we ever return.

Pros: service

Cons: food, decor, lack of parking

.

Being a foodie, I do great research prior to visiting restaurants...knowing the philosophy of Alice Waters - to provide customers (if I am not mistaken, to her customers are her house guests) with the rustic, unpretentious meals with freshest ingredients. I went there with my parents and my wife...I felt like I was dining at my friend who is a chef. Very heart warming and satisfying. The servers were unpretentious and friendly. I would not expect the super-creative and whimsical presentation...because it's not meant to be that way. I would definitely come back when I feel overwhelmed with dining at so many SF restaurants with too much creativity - when I feel like to dine and wine...and actually taste the flavor of chicken or meat or a piece of artichoke without so much added personalities to them.

5
★★★★★

Being a foodie, I do great research prior to visiting restaurants...knowing the philosophy of Alice Waters - to provide customers (if I am not mistaken, to her customers are her house guests) with the rustic, unpretentious meals with freshest ingredients. I went there with my parents and my wife...I felt like I was dining at my friend who is a chef. Very heart warming and satisfying. The servers were unpretentious and friendly. I would not expect the super-creative and whimsical presentation...because it's not meant to be that way. I would definitely come back when I feel overwhelmed with dining at so many SF restaurants with too much creativity - when I feel like to dine and wine...and actually taste the flavor of chicken or meat or a piece of artichoke without so much added personalities to them.

Pros: ambience, service, freshest food ever

Cons: parking

.

I ate here twice in 2007 and both times I had incredible meals. The first time I had an arugula and shaved fennel salad with grated bottarga which was so simple but delicious. A wood fired dish of calamari and chickpeas was divine. The calamari was amazingly tender and the chickpeas held their shape but practically melted in my mouth. I also had the most memorable dessert of my life here (and I'm a pastry chef.) Candied rose petal ice cream with Lucero farm strawberries. Doesn't sound like much, but the combination of the fragrant rose scented ice cream and the sweetness of the berries was mind blowing.
The first time I ate here, it was Saturday lunch and the service was so so. Our waiter was technically good, but when I asked him what part of Italy one of the whites I was unfamiliar with was from, he said he would check and when he came back said, "The bottle didn't say." Hmm.. My second meal, a weekday dinner, was much better service wise. Our server was gracious and very knowledgeable about the wine list, and made my dinner companion and I feel special.
The food here is gracefully prepared with finesse and honesty. I look forward to eating here again and again.

5
★★★★★

I ate here twice in 2007 and both times I had incredible meals. The first time I had an arugula and shaved fennel salad with grated bottarga which was so simple but delicious. A wood fired dish of calamari and chickpeas was divine. The calamari was amazingly tender and the chickpeas held their shape but practically melted in my mouth. I also had the most memorable dessert of my life here (and I'm a pastry chef.) Candied rose petal ice cream with Lucero farm strawberries. Doesn't sound like much, but the combination of the fragrant rose scented ice cream and the sweetness of the berries was mind blowing.
The first time I ate here, it was Saturday lunch and the service was so so. Our waiter was technically good, but when I asked him what part of Italy one of the whites I was unfamiliar with was from, he said he would check and when he came back said, "The bottle didn't say." Hmm.. My second meal, a weekday dinner, was much better service wise. Our server was gracious and very knowledgeable about the wine list, and made my dinner companion and I feel special.
The food here is gracefully prepared with finesse and honesty. I look forward to eating here again and again.

.

Pointed out worm in salad to which the manager stoicly and proudly pointed out that it meant "it was organic". Told her she had some nerve and was off her rocker and if I needed worms I'd order worms. Wine selection decent. Food alright. Not worth going. Over hyped restaurant. They try and put on airs about keeping demand high and supply limited for the restaurant seats that they sell/fill. Contrary, to hype can easily get seated. Not really worth going to, though.

1
★☆☆☆☆

Pointed out worm in salad to which the manager stoicly and proudly pointed out that it meant "it was organic". Told her she had some nerve and was off her rocker and if I needed worms I'd order worms. Wine selection decent. Food alright. Not worth going. Over hyped restaurant. They try and put on airs about keeping demand high and supply limited for the restaurant seats that they sell/fill. Contrary, to hype can easily get seated. Not really worth going to, though.

Pros: Good vino

Cons: Overrated, too many airs about themselves.

.

Chez Panisse Cafe, which sits above Chez Panisse, is marginally better than the restaurant. In both the cafe and the restaurant the service is bed and the food is over priced. However, at the cafe you at least get to pick which over priced meal you want. Seating is tight but cozy. There is no bar so don't plan on a cocktail before dinner. Goat cheese salad appetizer was very good, but the pizza appetizer was too much food. The tuna entree was very tasty but the steak was underwhelming. Additionally, the entree was served immediately after the appetizer plates were cleared so there was no time to enjoy the wine between courses. There are much better places and much better prices in Berkeley.

2
★★☆☆☆

Chez Panisse Cafe, which sits above Chez Panisse, is marginally better than the restaurant. In both the cafe and the restaurant the service is bed and the food is over priced. However, at the cafe you at least get to pick which over priced meal you want. Seating is tight but cozy. There is no bar so don't plan on a cocktail before dinner. Goat cheese salad appetizer was very good, but the pizza appetizer was too much food. The tuna entree was very tasty but the steak was underwhelming. Additionally, the entree was served immediately after the appetizer plates were cleared so there was no time to enjoy the wine between courses. There are much better places and much better prices in Berkeley.

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I had heard great things about this restaurant but left feeling very, very disappointed.

My wife and I were in a group of 4 people. My wife is a vegetarian (though fish eating) and our friends do not eat red meat.

When we asked if substitutions were possible from the vegetarian menu the waiter said he would have to "negotiate" with the chef..... he then lef t us in limbo for 10 minutes and replied in a very offhand way when we asked for an update that he had managed to get the chef to agree to substitutions... Normally at gourmet/fine dining restaurants there is no problem with substitutions.

When the food finally arrived the first course was a rather bland fig and parma ham salad.

The second course was a fish course with possibly the worst buerre blanc sauce I have ever had. In the sauce were capers; I have never had capers with such little flavour before.

The main course was hugely disappointing: massively overcooked vegetables - which actually tasted unpleasant rather than merely bland as a result of overcooking - and a duck au poivre that was so heavily salted and with so much pepper that the flavour of the duck was totally overpowered.

By this stage I had lost my appetite and didn't have any dessert. My dining companions soldiered on but having been similarly disappointed by the preceding courses they reported that the desserts were mediocre at best.

It amazes me that this place is ranked so highly - there are many far better restaurants in the San Francisco area.

1
★☆☆☆☆

I had heard great things about this restaurant but left feeling very, very disappointed.

My wife and I were in a group of 4 people. My wife is a vegetarian (though fish eating) and our friends do not eat red meat.

When we asked if substitutions were possible from the vegetarian menu the waiter said he would have to "negotiate" with the chef..... he then lef t us in limbo for 10 minutes and replied in a very offhand way when we asked for an update that he had managed to get the chef to agree to substitutions... Normally at gourmet/fine dining restaurants there is no problem with substitutions.

When the food finally arrived the first course was a rather bland fig and parma ham salad.

The second course was a fish course with possibly the worst buerre blanc sauce I have ever had. In the sauce were capers; I have never had capers with such little flavour before.

The main course was hugely disappointing: massively overcooked vegetables - which actually tasted unpleasant rather than merely bland as a result of overcooking - and a duck au poivre that was so heavily salted and with so much pepper that the flavour of the duck was totally overpowered.

By this stage I had lost my appetite and didn't have any dessert. My dining companions soldiered on but having been similarly disappointed by the preceding courses they reported that the desserts were mediocre at best.

It amazes me that this place is ranked so highly - there are many far better restaurants in the San Francisco area.

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This place is was an utter disappointment and rip-off. We went for lunch on a Friday, a la carte menu but very few choices, We were expecting some innovative, delicious food with some unusual ingredients. Instead, we got bland greasy, uncreative, poorly cooked food. I could have easily prepared these dishes on my own at home for about a tenth of the price, The portions were tiny and not filling. We were thinking about where to go afterwards for some real lunch. The price just doesn't make any sense. $10 for two pieces of eggplant and ricotta cheese?!?! The only dish that came close to satisfying was the dessert, which seemed like some time and effort went into it. If you still want to check this place out I would start off with one appetizer and see what you think. Don't get fooled into ordering your whole meal in the beginning cause then you won't get to walk out like we wanted to. $90 lunch for 2 appetizers (aforementioned eggplant and halibut-fennel tartare, 1 entree- stringy overcooked not-tender lamb with greasy green beans, and desert-fig tart and creme fraise ice cream (which should have been vanilla.) The drinks were also bad, pear cider and kir royale neither of which we finished. There are many better and more sensible places to dine in the Bay Area.

2
★★☆☆☆

This place is was an utter disappointment and rip-off. We went for lunch on a Friday, a la carte menu but very few choices, We were expecting some innovative, delicious food with some unusual ingredients. Instead, we got bland greasy, uncreative, poorly cooked food. I could have easily prepared these dishes on my own at home for about a tenth of the price, The portions were tiny and not filling. We were thinking about where to go afterwards for some real lunch. The price just doesn't make any sense. $10 for two pieces of eggplant and ricotta cheese?!?! The only dish that came close to satisfying was the dessert, which seemed like some time and effort went into it. If you still want to check this place out I would start off with one appetizer and see what you think. Don't get fooled into ordering your whole meal in the beginning cause then you won't get to walk out like we wanted to. $90 lunch for 2 appetizers (aforementioned eggplant and halibut-fennel tartare, 1 entree- stringy overcooked not-tender lamb with greasy green beans, and desert-fig tart and creme fraise ice cream (which should have been vanilla.) The drinks were also bad, pear cider and kir royale neither of which we finished. There are many better and more sensible places to dine in the Bay Area.

Pros: reputation (though underserved)

Cons: price, food, portions, presentation, service

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This is of the two best restaurants in the world I have been to (my other favorite is Babbo in NYC). The decor is warm and inviting. I have always been treated with warm, attentative, non-pretentious service, and have been floored, each time, by the freshness of the food and the depth and amazing combinations of the flavors. This is all the more impressive with the ever-changing menu. The wine recommendations are always excellent. In my experience (I have been here a handful of times), it is absolutely consistent in its quality. I have a friend who used to work in the kitchen, and vouches for the meticulous preparation of the food. Everything is hand-made. The experience of eating here is worth every penny.

I must sound like I work for them, but trust me, I don't! I'm just a poor graduate student who gets her parents to take her here every time they come to town.

5
★★★★★

This is of the two best restaurants in the world I have been to (my other favorite is Babbo in NYC). The decor is warm and inviting. I have always been treated with warm, attentative, non-pretentious service, and have been floored, each time, by the freshness of the food and the depth and amazing combinations of the flavors. This is all the more impressive with the ever-changing menu. The wine recommendations are always excellent. In my experience (I have been here a handful of times), it is absolutely consistent in its quality. I have a friend who used to work in the kitchen, and vouches for the meticulous preparation of the food. Everything is hand-made. The experience of eating here is worth every penny.

I must sound like I work for them, but trust me, I don't! I'm just a poor graduate student who gets her parents to take her here every time they come to town.

Pros: Food, service, atmosphere

Cons: None

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From the low-lit candles to the warm hospitality, Chez Panisse definetly lives up to its reputation. We ordered the pork shoulder and the duck breast and were plesantly surprised by the tenderness of the meat and the flavors from both dishes. The service was wonderful and the meals brought to the table quickly and most importantly, very hot. We would definetly return at any opportunity.

3
★★★☆☆

From the low-lit candles to the warm hospitality, Chez Panisse definetly lives up to its reputation. We ordered the pork shoulder and the duck breast and were plesantly surprised by the tenderness of the meat and the flavors from both dishes. The service was wonderful and the meals brought to the table quickly and most importantly, very hot. We would definetly return at any opportunity.

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My family and I ate there this Wednesday and were very disappointed. Over the past few years we have eaten in the Cafe and Restaurant several times and felt that it was well worth the hype and price. The other night, however, our experience in the Cafe was very mediocre. Before, it seemed like both the service and food were well calculated and top notch. The lincod with scallops was served cold (it tasted like it was sitting around the kitchen for awhile before it reached our table) and the spaghetti with sqid was bland and all of our dishes lacked the usual amazing fresh garnishes (the short rib and polenta were pretty good though). For dessert, our pudding tasted like it could have been bought from Whole Foods and the apple tart was different (in a bad way) than before. Our service was terrible (he more concerned that everyone's watercup did not go past the half way line)... we waited a good 20 minutes to put our order in (and we had to flag him down) and it took us a good 10 minutes to get our check after our dessert. I'm hoping last night was a fluke, but I do not think I will be going back for long time... has anyone else experienced this lately? What happened?

3
★★★☆☆

My family and I ate there this Wednesday and were very disappointed. Over the past few years we have eaten in the Cafe and Restaurant several times and felt that it was well worth the hype and price. The other night, however, our experience in the Cafe was very mediocre. Before, it seemed like both the service and food were well calculated and top notch. The lincod with scallops was served cold (it tasted like it was sitting around the kitchen for awhile before it reached our table) and the spaghetti with sqid was bland and all of our dishes lacked the usual amazing fresh garnishes (the short rib and polenta were pretty good though). For dessert, our pudding tasted like it could have been bought from Whole Foods and the apple tart was different (in a bad way) than before. Our service was terrible (he more concerned that everyone's watercup did not go past the half way line)... we waited a good 20 minutes to put our order in (and we had to flag him down) and it took us a good 10 minutes to get our check after our dessert. I'm hoping last night was a fluke, but I do not think I will be going back for long time... has anyone else experienced this lately? What happened?

Pros: Good Ambience still

Cons: not worth the price/hype this time, service, presentation, cold food

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Chez Panisse is fresh. It's all about taking simple ingredients and making it into healthy, fun food! Alice Water is amazing. For my appetizer, I had a dungenous crab salad and it was spectacular. For the who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, I highly recommend getting a bottle of grape juice. I swear it tastes just like wine.

5
★★★★★

Chez Panisse is fresh. It's all about taking simple ingredients and making it into healthy, fun food! Alice Water is amazing. For my appetizer, I had a dungenous crab salad and it was spectacular. For the who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, I highly recommend getting a bottle of grape juice. I swear it tastes just like wine.

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One of the five best meals I've had. Super service and ambiance, but the food is out of this world. Excellent all the way around.

5
★★★★★

One of the five best meals I've had. Super service and ambiance, but the food is out of this world. Excellent all the way around.

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The interior was very nice but the food was bland and uninspiring. I do not understand why this restaurant is so highly rated-requiring reservations so far in advance. Sure, organic food is great and I believe in supporting that. But it must TASTE good. Very disappointed.

3
★★★☆☆

The interior was very nice but the food was bland and uninspiring. I do not understand why this restaurant is so highly rated-requiring reservations so far in advance. Sure, organic food is great and I believe in supporting that. But it must TASTE good. Very disappointed.

Pros: the ambiance is nice

Cons: the food!!!and the price

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My wife and I are well traveled and well eaten to say the very least.
We are lucky enough to have sampled culinary exellence the world over and are consistently disappointed with California's offerings.
That is, until we visited Chez Penisse on the advice of a friend.
Harking originally from London, where good food is expected and often found, we felt like we'd come home.
Sophisticated, innovative, delicate and tasty are just some adjectives that go a little way to describing what a remarkable eating experience this restaurant offers.
The food is essentially simple but never fails to hold your interest.
We started with a salad and raw halibut, both outstanding in their respective finesse.
I had the duck to follow, the best example of the meat I've had the pleasure to have tried in some time, while my wife chose the king salmon which was served with a mint, chive and cream sauce. It was heavenly, as were the glasses of wine that were available on the 'mini' menu. We did not order a bottle as we were driving. Luckily, I was the designated drinker and was able to enjoy a fine Cote du Rhone followed by a charming Moscat-de-Beaume-de-Venise to accompany my 'affogato' coffee and ice cream desert.
In short, I can't recommend this restaurant highly enough, given that I live in Los Angeles, where one can drive 50 miles, bend over backwards and still often end up rather disappointed with the meal you get at the end of it.
Book early and enjoy!

5
★★★★★

My wife and I are well traveled and well eaten to say the very least.
We are lucky enough to have sampled culinary exellence the world over and are consistently disappointed with California's offerings.
That is, until we visited Chez Penisse on the advice of a friend.
Harking originally from London, where good food is expected and often found, we felt like we'd come home.
Sophisticated, innovative, delicate and tasty are just some adjectives that go a little way to describing what a remarkable eating experience this restaurant offers.
The food is essentially simple but never fails to hold your interest.
We started with a salad and raw halibut, both outstanding in their respective finesse.
I had the duck to follow, the best example of the meat I've had the pleasure to have tried in some time, while my wife chose the king salmon which was served with a mint, chive and cream sauce. It was heavenly, as were the glasses of wine that were available on the 'mini' menu. We did not order a bottle as we were driving. Luckily, I was the designated drinker and was able to enjoy a fine Cote du Rhone followed by a charming Moscat-de-Beaume-de-Venise to accompany my 'affogato' coffee and ice cream desert.
In short, I can't recommend this restaurant highly enough, given that I live in Los Angeles, where one can drive 50 miles, bend over backwards and still often end up rather disappointed with the meal you get at the end of it.
Book early and enjoy!

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I visited Chez Panisse downstairs for the 2nd time last night on an impromptu blind date - it was the perfect spot. I had forgotten had intimate, cozy the downstairs space is. Exactly like eating in someone's dining room. Although the room was filled, you feel like you have your own little space, conversations are hushed enough and despite the cozy interior space, you still feel like you have privacy.

The food was amazing. So simple yet fresh and favorful. The herbs and light oils hint as well as emphasize. We started with eggplant wrapped over ricotta cheese salad - it was interestingly balanced. The eggplant and frisee were light and summery while the cheese gave it substance. The entree was quail kebabs, and while it was a bit tricky pulling the quail legs off the kebab sticks and trying to get the meat off the bones in a polite manner, the sauce and flavors were superb. Each dish came at the right time b/c after the main course, we were both feeling full. Dessert was a delightful summery concotion of fresh peach half drizzled with a cream sauce and fresh berries. Yum!

The date started a bit awkwardly but the food gave us an additional topic when there were those awkward pauses. Whew! :)

5
★★★★★

I visited Chez Panisse downstairs for the 2nd time last night on an impromptu blind date - it was the perfect spot. I had forgotten had intimate, cozy the downstairs space is. Exactly like eating in someone's dining room. Although the room was filled, you feel like you have your own little space, conversations are hushed enough and despite the cozy interior space, you still feel like you have privacy.

The food was amazing. So simple yet fresh and favorful. The herbs and light oils hint as well as emphasize. We started with eggplant wrapped over ricotta cheese salad - it was interestingly balanced. The eggplant and frisee were light and summery while the cheese gave it substance. The entree was quail kebabs, and while it was a bit tricky pulling the quail legs off the kebab sticks and trying to get the meat off the bones in a polite manner, the sauce and flavors were superb. Each dish came at the right time b/c after the main course, we were both feeling full. Dessert was a delightful summery concotion of fresh peach half drizzled with a cream sauce and fresh berries. Yum!

The date started a bit awkwardly but the food gave us an additional topic when there were those awkward pauses. Whew! :)

Pros: Ambience, decent parking, great service

Cons: Book in advance & fixed menu

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I've been there 3 times over many years. It lives up to its reputation. But i think it became overpriced. Last time i had a stew of calamari, amazing with its flavors and freshness. I'm not a calamari-octopus eater, but i was intrigued by that dish. Hats off!
My friend had a kinda sauerkraut with homemade sausage (very good) and roasted of pork (still pink!) I wasn't used to pink pork, but my friend told me that it's common.

4
★★★★☆

I've been there 3 times over many years. It lives up to its reputation. But i think it became overpriced. Last time i had a stew of calamari, amazing with its flavors and freshness. I'm not a calamari-octopus eater, but i was intrigued by that dish. Hats off!
My friend had a kinda sauerkraut with homemade sausage (very good) and roasted of pork (still pink!) I wasn't used to pink pork, but my friend told me that it's common.

Pros: Hat off for its creativity

Cons: Expensive

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We went here for my girlfriend's grandmother's birthday. It was loud inside, and paries of five get seated at booths with a chair at the end--to share the aisle with servers and people walking to the restrooms. The menu is not exactly imaginative. It is a nice selection of food. We had morel mushroom lasagna which was bland, though the pasta was just right and the mushrooms were tasty. I had the pork, which... tasted like a good piece of pork. And some sea bass, which was (like the pork) good fish. But for all of the hype, I was expecting more. I guess that is not their fault, right?

4
★★★★☆

We went here for my girlfriend's grandmother's birthday. It was loud inside, and paries of five get seated at booths with a chair at the end--to share the aisle with servers and people walking to the restrooms. The menu is not exactly imaginative. It is a nice selection of food. We had morel mushroom lasagna which was bland, though the pasta was just right and the mushrooms were tasty. I had the pork, which... tasted like a good piece of pork. And some sea bass, which was (like the pork) good fish. But for all of the hype, I was expecting more. I guess that is not their fault, right?

Pros: Great Service

Cons: Over-rated

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My husband and I have eaten downstairs a handful of times. The best food we have ever eaten was at Chez Panisse. The fixed menu is no worry -- even foods you think you don't like you will love there.

The winelist is impressive and reasonably priced, so you are better off ordering from it than paying corkage.

5
★★★★★

My husband and I have eaten downstairs a handful of times. The best food we have ever eaten was at Chez Panisse. The fixed menu is no worry -- even foods you think you don't like you will love there.

The winelist is impressive and reasonably priced, so you are better off ordering from it than paying corkage.

Pros: Great food, beautiful building, excellent service

Cons: Very hard to get reservations

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It was interesting that The Worlds 50 Best Restaurant 2006 list put Chez Panisse at #20 this year. After reading that and not having been (downstairs) for quite a few years we had to give it a try. I must confess that my expectations werent that high; however, Im sad to report that my experience was even lower that my expectations.

The Feuillete of asparagus was so underwhelming it could have been served anywhere. The most unjust was the lobster and razor clam risotto. The dish, lovely in theory failed miserably in practice. The actual lobster was overdone and its presence limited as was the dish itself. It desperately cried out for salt to give it a flavor above bland. The best dish of the evening was the Black Sea Bass with fresh fava beans and spring onion over a Jerusalem artichoke puree. Also disappointing is the wine list.

3
★★★☆☆

It was interesting that The Worlds 50 Best Restaurant 2006 list put Chez Panisse at #20 this year. After reading that and not having been (downstairs) for quite a few years we had to give it a try. I must confess that my expectations werent that high; however, Im sad to report that my experience was even lower that my expectations.

The Feuillete of asparagus was so underwhelming it could have been served anywhere. The most unjust was the lobster and razor clam risotto. The dish, lovely in theory failed miserably in practice. The actual lobster was overdone and its presence limited as was the dish itself. It desperately cried out for salt to give it a flavor above bland. The best dish of the evening was the Black Sea Bass with fresh fava beans and spring onion over a Jerusalem artichoke puree. Also disappointing is the wine list.

Pros: Service, Food Icon

Cons: Food , Parking

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we went there on a saturday night... the service was good, but the food left me unsatisfied. i don't know if it was just bad luck, but our food ended up on the salty and greasy side for the most part! the tuna tartar came with some oil dressing that overwhelmed the flavor of the fish. the entrees were also on the salty side too! whta a disappointment. great ingredients, but too much salt; what a waste.

2
★★☆☆☆

we went there on a saturday night... the service was good, but the food left me unsatisfied. i don't know if it was just bad luck, but our food ended up on the salty and greasy side for the most part! the tuna tartar came with some oil dressing that overwhelmed the flavor of the fish. the entrees were also on the salty side too! whta a disappointment. great ingredients, but too much salt; what a waste.

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This place is all hype with no delivery. My best friend came in from out of town on his 30th birthday and four of us went here for dinner. The menu is sparse at best. After looking at the menu we all looked at each other like is this for real. There was nothing substantial on the menu. So we decided to stay and went grazing. The food is very simple as are the flavors. The quality of the ingredients make the food what it is and not the methods of preparation. The service was cold and the staff seemed like they had an air or superiority. I never understand when service industry workers cop attitude. There are many better restaurants out there that are not clinging to the glory days of being the birthplace of California cuisine.

2
★★☆☆☆

This place is all hype with no delivery. My best friend came in from out of town on his 30th birthday and four of us went here for dinner. The menu is sparse at best. After looking at the menu we all looked at each other like is this for real. There was nothing substantial on the menu. So we decided to stay and went grazing. The food is very simple as are the flavors. The quality of the ingredients make the food what it is and not the methods of preparation. The service was cold and the staff seemed like they had an air or superiority. I never understand when service industry workers cop attitude. There are many better restaurants out there that are not clinging to the glory days of being the birthplace of California cuisine.

Cons: Lackluster Menu, Poor Service

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We went to the down stair's dining room for my birthday. Even though, we had a reservation, we still had to wait one hour for our table. After we had our dinner, we were all still hungry, we had to go to another restaurant for more food.
In addition, there were too many homeless people around the restaurant.
This place is very over-rated. Big disappointment.

1
★☆☆☆☆

We went to the down stair's dining room for my birthday. Even though, we had a reservation, we still had to wait one hour for our table. After we had our dinner, we were all still hungry, we had to go to another restaurant for more food.
In addition, there were too many homeless people around the restaurant.
This place is very over-rated. Big disappointment.

Cons: Not enough food, no atmosphere, no choices

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i hadn't heard much about the infamous Chez Panisse when I ate here, so I had no expectations. Lunch upstairs at the Cafe simply blew me away. It was the best meal I have ever eaten. If you are someone who likes many different colorful combinations of flavors and spices, you might not appreciate Cafe Panisse, because the style of cooking isn't intricate or loud. But Cafe Panisse is like nothing I've ever tasted. The quality of the ingredients are incomparable. The chefs picked a few key natural flavors out of each dish and arranged the entire meal so these flavors stood out boldly. It's the ingredients themselves that speak for the entire meal. I highly recommend this restaurant. It has moved up to the top of my "favorites" list.

5
★★★★★

i hadn't heard much about the infamous Chez Panisse when I ate here, so I had no expectations. Lunch upstairs at the Cafe simply blew me away. It was the best meal I have ever eaten. If you are someone who likes many different colorful combinations of flavors and spices, you might not appreciate Cafe Panisse, because the style of cooking isn't intricate or loud. But Cafe Panisse is like nothing I've ever tasted. The quality of the ingredients are incomparable. The chefs picked a few key natural flavors out of each dish and arranged the entire meal so these flavors stood out boldly. It's the ingredients themselves that speak for the entire meal. I highly recommend this restaurant. It has moved up to the top of my "favorites" list.

Pros: fresh ingredients

Cons: small

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I've wanted to eat at Chez Panisse for years (We live in Texas) and finally got the chance. Although the food was nicely prepared, there were no spectacular dishes. Fresh ingredients prepared simply is nice but not worthy of top notch billing. My main beef - EVERYONE eats the same thing. Everyone at your table or any other table. You never see any variation. IMHO top notch restaurants have to be able to serve 20 or more perfect dishes each night. NOT 4. Sorry, won't be back.

4
★★★★☆

I've wanted to eat at Chez Panisse for years (We live in Texas) and finally got the chance. Although the food was nicely prepared, there were no spectacular dishes. Fresh ingredients prepared simply is nice but not worthy of top notch billing. My main beef - EVERYONE eats the same thing. Everyone at your table or any other table. You never see any variation. IMHO top notch restaurants have to be able to serve 20 or more perfect dishes each night. NOT 4. Sorry, won't be back.

Pros: Nice food

Cons: Expensive, Little variety

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this is my favorite restaurant, and i'd say the most high quality food i've had. i don't mean high quality because it's "gourmet" or because of a chi chi atmosphere (which it certainly doesn't have in the cafe--if anything, it's cramped, a bit noisy, and the wooden benched hurt your tush after a while). i mean that the food, especially the vegetables, are incredible. the vegetarian entrees are so tasty--i didn't know veges could be that good! even my carnivorous boyfriend couldn't stop eating the vege couscous dish i ordered. nothing is too salty or too garlicky or too anything, but every dish has plenty of flavor. the entree portions are surprisingly large. salads can be a bit skimpy. Monday-Thursdays they have a three-course prix fixe menu for about $27.

5
★★★★★

this is my favorite restaurant, and i'd say the most high quality food i've had. i don't mean high quality because it's "gourmet" or because of a chi chi atmosphere (which it certainly doesn't have in the cafe--if anything, it's cramped, a bit noisy, and the wooden benched hurt your tush after a while). i mean that the food, especially the vegetables, are incredible. the vegetarian entrees are so tasty--i didn't know veges could be that good! even my carnivorous boyfriend couldn't stop eating the vege couscous dish i ordered. nothing is too salty or too garlicky or too anything, but every dish has plenty of flavor. the entree portions are surprisingly large. salads can be a bit skimpy. Monday-Thursdays they have a three-course prix fixe menu for about $27.

Pros: the best ingredients, not too salty

Cons: cramped, okay service, hard benches

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We were very disappointed with our lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe. It is definitely over-hyped and should not have such a high rating. The food was very bland and boring - not at all innovative. I should have read the last review before I went with my family. I could have had a much better meal, at half the price, elsewhere!

2
★★☆☆☆

We were very disappointed with our lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe. It is definitely over-hyped and should not have such a high rating. The food was very bland and boring - not at all innovative. I should have read the last review before I went with my family. I could have had a much better meal, at half the price, elsewhere!

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Last Saturday our dinner was impecably prepared, but there was nothing on the menu that was innovative or in the least bit provacative. It was just simple flavors prepared at their most expert level. And yes, I was slightly disappointed.

The service was average. I would have liked the plates cleared a bit faster and I've had waiters that were more attentive about filling wine glasses. But we weren't hassled for bringing our own wine selections (as I worried we might be).

All in all, I won't be making a trip back. I'd always wanted to eat there, but was really hoping for more. There are a lot more innovative/interesting restaurants in the bay area. If you're looking for safe and impecable, this is it.

3
★★★☆☆

Last Saturday our dinner was impecably prepared, but there was nothing on the menu that was innovative or in the least bit provacative. It was just simple flavors prepared at their most expert level. And yes, I was slightly disappointed.

The service was average. I would have liked the plates cleared a bit faster and I've had waiters that were more attentive about filling wine glasses. But we weren't hassled for bringing our own wine selections (as I worried we might be).

All in all, I won't be making a trip back. I'd always wanted to eat there, but was really hoping for more. There are a lot more innovative/interesting restaurants in the bay area. If you're looking for safe and impecable, this is it.

Pros: impecible preparation, clear, simple flavors

Cons: , nothing innovative

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The place over the years has become a hectic tourist trap. It even sells souvenirs in the form of books. Will keyfobs be next? The food is good but seldom inventive instead relying on ingredients named after the producers -- Bobs Lettuce, for example. This is part of the pretense of the place that impresses the tourists I guess. Unfortunately it appeals to an over 60 (or70) crowd nowadays. Lot of white shoes. The entire complex has not been the same since a friend of the owners rated laughable as the top restaurant in the country. It's not even the top restaurant in the Bay Area anymore.

3
★★★☆☆

The place over the years has become a hectic tourist trap. It even sells souvenirs in the form of books. Will keyfobs be next? The food is good but seldom inventive instead relying on ingredients named after the producers -- Bobs Lettuce, for example. This is part of the pretense of the place that impresses the tourists I guess. Unfortunately it appeals to an over 60 (or70) crowd nowadays. Lot of white shoes. The entire complex has not been the same since a friend of the owners rated laughable as the top restaurant in the country. It's not even the top restaurant in the Bay Area anymore.

Pros: quality ingredients

Cons: , disorganized, trendy for older folk

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I go to chez panisse semi-regularly, but last month was the first time with our little baby. The reservation person on the phone tried to dissuade us from bringing him, but he's too small to stay home, so we called again: second time was a charm. We went on a Monday for the 2nd service. Everything was perfect. They secured the table by the kitchen so we could park the baby car seat in the corner. Food was as amazing as ever: bright focused flavor that explode in your mouth. When I requested the candied lemon rinds that I had before at the end of the meal, the waiter explained they don't usually serve them on Mondays but he brought some for me. Nice touch.

5
★★★★★

I go to chez panisse semi-regularly, but last month was the first time with our little baby. The reservation person on the phone tried to dissuade us from bringing him, but he's too small to stay home, so we called again: second time was a charm. We went on a Monday for the 2nd service. Everything was perfect. They secured the table by the kitchen so we could park the baby car seat in the corner. Food was as amazing as ever: bright focused flavor that explode in your mouth. When I requested the candied lemon rinds that I had before at the end of the meal, the waiter explained they don't usually serve them on Mondays but he brought some for me. Nice touch.

Pros: california's best, beyond expectation->, food and service

Cons: , to find one

.

I went with a friend because we had heard of its reputation - they have a chef who is among top 10 celebrity chefs (Citysearch Editors pick).

After being seated, for first 15 minutes we only had water service. During the third refill, I asked if we could get anything else but water. Shortly, a waiter came. We ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir. It came 5 minutes later.

This restaurant has only one fixed menu a night. That Tuesday, if you didnt like pork and ice-cream you were out of luck. Artichoke salad was good. Main course consisted of 4 slices of pork loin. Slices were largely overlapping, so that (good) sauce couldnt get to the majority of the meat. Pork was tasteless as cardboard.

In the bill they included 15% tip (they call it service). This was first time ever that my friend and I gave no tip.

3
★★★☆☆

I went with a friend because we had heard of its reputation - they have a chef who is among top 10 celebrity chefs (Citysearch Editors pick).

After being seated, for first 15 minutes we only had water service. During the third refill, I asked if we could get anything else but water. Shortly, a waiter came. We ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir. It came 5 minutes later.

This restaurant has only one fixed menu a night. That Tuesday, if you didnt like pork and ice-cream you were out of luck. Artichoke salad was good. Main course consisted of 4 slices of pork loin. Slices were largely overlapping, so that (good) sauce couldnt get to the majority of the meat. Pork was tasteless as cardboard.

In the bill they included 15% tip (they call it service). This was first time ever that my friend and I gave no tip.

Pros: Food Quality

Cons: , Services and Parking, Business Philosophy

.

Chez Panisse has quite a reputation, the bar was set very high and they jumped right over it!

Perfection in dining without being pretentious.

5
★★★★★

Chez Panisse has quite a reputation, the bar was set very high and they jumped right over it!

Perfection in dining without being pretentious.

.

I had been waiting a year to go to Chez Panisse and sadly the food was not all it is cracked up to be and definitely not worth the money. The food was prepared with perfect technique and looked great, but was decidedly light on flavor. I have been to many other top-rated restaurants around the country which lived up to their repuation... Chez Panisse did not. Go to Liason, Betelnut, Chow, Ebisu, Slanted Door, Izzy's, Amber India. All great Bay Area restaurants. Just don't go to Chez Panisse expecting world class food.

2
★★☆☆☆

I had been waiting a year to go to Chez Panisse and sadly the food was not all it is cracked up to be and definitely not worth the money. The food was prepared with perfect technique and looked great, but was decidedly light on flavor. I have been to many other top-rated restaurants around the country which lived up to their repuation... Chez Panisse did not. Go to Liason, Betelnut, Chow, Ebisu, Slanted Door, Izzy's, Amber India. All great Bay Area restaurants. Just don't go to Chez Panisse expecting world class food.

Pros: Great Atmosphere

Cons: , Slow service

.

After all the hype about Chez Panisse, I finally went to the Cafe because my girlfriend's pseudo-vegetarian diet prevented us from going to the downstairs restaurant (fixed menu, mostly meat). The cafe's ambience was fantastic, the food was phenomenal, but so was the price tag ($180 for 2 w/ wine). "Cafe"? Yeah, whatever!!!

5
★★★★★

After all the hype about Chez Panisse, I finally went to the Cafe because my girlfriend's pseudo-vegetarian diet prevented us from going to the downstairs restaurant (fixed menu, mostly meat). The cafe's ambience was fantastic, the food was phenomenal, but so was the price tag ($180 for 2 w/ wine). "Cafe"? Yeah, whatever!!!

Pros: Food, Wine, Service

Cons: $$$ for a cafe, non?

.

It is rare that a "living legend" can match unbelievably high expectations, but this one definitely delivered. The food (and the philosophy behind it) is wonderful, and the atmosphere is perfect (not nearly as stuffy as most top-notch places).

While everyone is entitled to their opinions, I'm really confused how the disgruntled reviewers on this list got so upset or had bad experiences. Perhaps they dont like having no choices, or perhaps they didnt like that evenings menu (not that I understand how that would be possible). But, at least for my night in Berkley, I walked away feeling unbelievably pleased with my experience at this temple of California cuisine.

5
★★★★★

It is rare that a "living legend" can match unbelievably high expectations, but this one definitely delivered. The food (and the philosophy behind it) is wonderful, and the atmosphere is perfect (not nearly as stuffy as most top-notch places).

While everyone is entitled to their opinions, I'm really confused how the disgruntled reviewers on this list got so upset or had bad experiences. Perhaps they dont like having no choices, or perhaps they didnt like that evenings menu (not that I understand how that would be possible). But, at least for my night in Berkley, I walked away feeling unbelievably pleased with my experience at this temple of California cuisine.

Pros: Service, Philosophy about food, Quality

Cons: None

.

Very slow service,2 1/2 hours for lunch! arrogant attitude from the maitre d'. On hearing my complaint, his reply was "I don't understand how you could be unsatisfied, all my other guests are very happy!. The food was just ok, but not worth the price. The overall presentation was very poor, the cheese plate at $8.50 was three small fingers of cheese served with the same bread as with lunch. No garnish, fruit or chutney or colour. At these prices and the reputation of cp, we were all very dissapointed. A world class restaurant, I don't think so!

1
★☆☆☆☆

Very slow service,2 1/2 hours for lunch! arrogant attitude from the maitre d'. On hearing my complaint, his reply was "I don't understand how you could be unsatisfied, all my other guests are very happy!. The food was just ok, but not worth the price. The overall presentation was very poor, the cheese plate at $8.50 was three small fingers of cheese served with the same bread as with lunch. No garnish, fruit or chutney or colour. At these prices and the reputation of cp, we were all very dissapointed. A world class restaurant, I don't think so!

Pros: nice waitress, clean

Cons: slow service, arrogant attitude, poor quality food

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