Chez Panisse, a Berkeley California restaurant pioneer, has closed for an extended period of time after a late-night fire.
According to owner Alice Waters, the fire was mostly confined to the front porch and the façade, though damage is expected to be in excess of $200,000.
The dining room, kitchen and upstairs were not affected, but, like Paley’s Place, the entrance was through the porch, which also seated ten diners. The lovely rose-colored bay windows and the wisteria which draped over the entrance also burned.
According to their Facebook page, all reservations through March 23rd have been canceled.
If you don’t know about Chez Panisse, many people say the restaurant was the birthplace of a new kind of dining called “California Cuisine”, which specialized in food that is organically and locally grown.
In 2001 Gourmet Magazine called Chez Panisse the best restaurant in America, and it has won just about every award you can imagine, landing on many lists of “best restaurants in the world”.
I last had the pleasure of dining there in March 2012. The meal, which is a pre-fix $95 dollars consisted of:
- An apéritif
- Green asparagus and black trumpet risotto with pancetta and Parmesan
- Spit-roasted Salmon Creek Ranch duck with Gamay wine sauce, braised greens, and butternut squash pudding.
- Almond meringata with rum and caramel ice cream.
At the time I was planning to write about it, but didn’t think it would mean much to most people in Portland. However, I do have a few things to say.
- It was the most professional yet relaxed service I have ever had in a restaurant.
- Every single bite of the food was good; there wasn’t a flaw in the entire meal. Every dish featured simple clean flavors that let the ingredients speak for themselves.
- No single dish was better than anything I have had in Portland. However, I’ve never had a meal here that was so perfect from beginning to end. They managed to make the whole thing seem effortless, and reminded me that, though we may have a great dining scene, we still have a long way to go.
I agree with you completely. I have had more earth shattering flavor combos (although CP is the first place I ever experienced greens on a pizza many years ago) but for a genuinely wonderful, dependably excellent experience from beginning to end you just cannot beat Chez Panisse. My favorite, though, is the cafe upstairs. I love the more casual atmosphere and the energy. Wish we had an equivalent in Portland.
I just read that the wisteria has been salvaged. Best part- the host/gardener was able to do it with the help of another hostess. I love this place.