Birthday dinner at Chez Panisse – 28 April 2017

A major birthday for D, so we took R&E and went to Chez Panisse for dinner, having remembered a month in advance to call in for reservations. Next time should get first seating, though, as dinner lasts quite a long time…

This was an excellent but not perfect dinner (some here are). E says that is b/c the wines were not well paired with the dishes, and I’m inclined to agree with her. Since the first wine was recommended by the server (and the second should have been opened when we ordered it, an hour or so before it was served) this is a demerit for the restaurant. They’re still in the “A+” category, just this dinner was less than spectacular. All of the courses showed excellent blends of flavors. I really, really enjoyed everything, but the difference was that there was nothing about which I felt “I can’t live the rest of my life without having this again,” which is a more typical response to Chez P dinners (which are pretty rare, in fact).

Here is the menu, copied from the website:

  • Dungeness crab Louie with Little Gems lettuce, tarragon, celery, and golden beets
  • Fava bean caramelle pasta with morel mushrooms, mint, and fried sage leaves
  • Grilled Full Belly Farm lamb rack, loin, and leg with potato and sorrel gratin,
    asparagus, and parsley sauce
  • Frozen cassata with strawberry sorbetto

The lamb course is shown in the main photo above. The potato and sorrel gratin was my favorite part of this course, but it was all very good. the others convinced me to gnaw on the lamb bone to get the end stuff off, and they were so right! LOL!

This is the wine we had with the lamb, which was seriously in want of airing: a 2012 Bandol Red from Domaine de Terrebrune.

Here’s the crab salad:

A refreshing and interesting first course. The flavors blended very interestingly and I enjoyed it a lot.

And the pasta:

Again, the flavors blended really well, and this was an interesting course. I really enjoyed it. Morels and favas – truly spring pasta ๐Ÿ™‚

And the wine the server suggested to go with the first two courses: Les Champs Rouge Chardonnay, “les parcelles rares.” Not excited about this at all. The server said the second course was getting a red in the pairing menu, but since we wanted a wine to go with both first and second courses, he suggested this white.

This being a Friday, there was an apertif before dinner – prosecco and rhubarb. Interesting but not compelling.









A delightful little lagniappe showed up before the first course, a small crust with squab liver mousse, radish slices, chives, and an aged balsamic. This was the closest we got to “to die for” at this dinner. Everything top flight, really delicious, but not life-changing. (For life changing, see my Chez P. birthday post from a few years ago (especially the fish!).

Dessert – three of us had a glass of Jurancon with this. D just had a taste of mine. D’s dessert had a birthday candle on it ๐Ÿ™‚ I thought the Jurancon went especially well with the white with chocolate bits. I enjoyed the dessert a lot. Usually this is the least interesting part of the meal at Chez P.


Used up the rice and the rest of the ham, cooked with a bit of onion. Favas shelled and parboiled 1, 2i, 3, or 4 minutes depending on their size (add in sequential minutes so they all come out together).

Early in the day, R brought over some madeleines, in honor of its being D’s Actual Birthday, but not the day R will make his Actual Cake b/c of the trip to Chez P. He actually (lol) took back half of these – just had to send the entire plate b/c it looked so pretty!

This is the season when nasturtiums go all out of control, and have to be removed from walkways and struggling herbs and such. So they end up – as many as we can handle – in vases. Not one of the worst problems to have…



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