Elliott and I had our first grown-up, prixe fixe dinner at Chez Panisse last night. The menu included:
Green garlic soufflé with leeks and Parmesan
Monterey Bay squid stuffed with greens and herbs; with paella rice
Grilled Sonoma County Liberty duck breast with dried cherry sauce, warm escarole salad,
pancetta, and duck livers
Candied kumquat and Page mandarin ice cream Pavlova
It was the best meal I've ever had in a restaurant. The food was excellent, of course. The souffle melted on the tongue; the squid trumps Delfina's calamari; and the duck was a perfect blend of crispy skin and savory pink meat. None of this was surprising to me, of course. The birthplace of Californian cuisine can do no worse. What was surprising and delightful was the restaurant itself. The downstairs part of Chez Panisse only spans the length of two large rooms, but it seems bigger because the walls are covered in semi-reflective bronze-colored sheets of metal, which also warmed up the space (something much appreciated last night).
The meal was probably also the most leisurely one I've had in a while. It was almost 11 by the time we had dessert (we had an 8:30 seating). There's something of a relief in letting someone else dictate what you should eat and when you should eat it, especially if that someone's a chef at a world-renowned restaurant.
All in all, not a bad showing for our second anniversary.