Grègoire Restaurant Review
On Sunday, Mr. Man and our houseguest decided to go out to Berkeley to check out the Berkeley International Food & Music Festival that Allison of Local Lemons had twittered about last week. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there until about 2PM, and by then it was crowded and the food didn’t really appear to be very impressive. I was kind of imagining a farmer’s market meets restaurant tastings, and instead it was more like restuarant sidewalk sale. Even more annoying than that, it was crowded – and someone was blaring Michael Jackson music. So we decided to pack it up early and find someplace else to get lunch. We stopped by Caffe Trieste to pick up some coffee, whipped out out our nifty iPhones and used UrbanSpoon to help us choose a place to eat.
We settled on a place called Grègoire – the reviews looked excellent and I liked that they use local, in season, produce. I also figured a restuarant review was overdue on teh blog, since I can’t really remember the last time I did one, so I brought the camera in with us and snapped a bunch of pictures. We found street parking pretty easily, although I imagine that it helped that it was Sunday afternoon and several of the other businesses in the area were closed. Seating at the restaurant was limited to two bench tables outside and a couple of stools inside, but it was a lovely day and we just loitered around and snagged a table as soon as someone left. Grègoire mostly focuses on being a take-out restaurant, which is why the limited seating – so for all you people who live near Grègoire in Berkeley let me just say: I envy you.
The kitchen area was open to the ordering counter, so after we placed our order, we were able to watch the chef prepare everything – which is pretty awesome. I love being able to watch chefs work their magick. The kitchen was small, but well set up, and I had some serious appliance envy when checking out their Wolf oven. We decided to order two Grilled Flank Steak and Warm Brie baguette sandwiches and one Housemade Cold smoked Salmon with Tangy Guacamole on Puff Pastry, along with two orders of Crispy Potato Puffs, with Pineapple & Coconut Bread Pudding with Caramel sauce and Raspberry Mousse with White Chocolate Sauce for dessert.
The Flank steak sandwiches were excellent, with a nice mustard. The brie was all melty, and the flank steak was flavorful. It was just a teeny bit dry, and could probably be improved upon with an Au Jus or something to dip in – but overall, it still beat the snot out of most sandwich shops I’ve been too.
The housesmoked Salmon with tangy guacamole was nothing short of amazing though. The Guacamole was lighter than I expected – almost like a savory mouse, with lots of lemony flavor, and the salmon was incredible as well. Together, they were absolutely sublime. I would say that they were my favorite, (with the possible exception of the Raspberry Mousse).
Mr. Man’s favorite was the Crispy Potato Puffs. While I was sitting at the counter snapping pictures, I was able to watch the chef make them (although I wasn’t quite quick enough to get a good picture of her doing it) and it looked like something no more complicated than deep-fried scoops of Mashed Potatoes, but oh – the taste! They were really delicious. Crispy on the outside, with a soft interior – a creamy, sour creamy-mayonnaisy dip – they were delicious. Mr. Man has said that I’m never, ever to make anything like them at home though, since he believes his arteries would likely explode if I did.
The Pineapple & Coconut Bread pudding with Caramel sauce was next up – and was adorably prepared in a mini loaf pan. I only had a teeny taste of it and thought it was pretty good, but our friend said that it was nothing short of amazing to him. Well, actually what he said was “Wow.” He tends to be a man of few words, so for him that pretty much translates to “really awesome.” Mr. Man didn’t really want a dessert – instead he snagged the last potato puff. (He’s usually more of a savory fan than a sweet fan anyways.)
And the raspberry mousse? Well. It was glorious. It was creamy, light, smooth, rich, tart, sweet, and just quite simply… exquisite. I wanted to roll each spoonful around on my tongue and let it linger – I now have dreams of bathing in a swimming pool of this stuff – it was that good. It was simply divine. So yeah – if you happen to be in Berkeley it’s definitely a “Go!” in my book. It was well priced (about $40ish for three people), and is absolutely delicious.
Afterwards, we rolled ourselves and our full tummies back to the car and headed back home, but I’m already trying to come up with an excuse to trek back over the Berkeley… I’m sure there’s some urgent errand that needs attending to over there. Honestly. I’m sure I can think of something. And while I’m there, well – if I happen to get hungry… which might happen if I were to say… skip lunch… it wouldn’t hurt anything to pop in to Grègoire again…