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San Francisco Bay Area Berkeley

Reporting Back on Cafe de la Paz in Berkeley

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Reporting Back on Cafe de la Paz in Berkeley

Barb S | Apr 12, 2006 11:47 PM

I was a little hesitant about trying this after reading the response to my 1st posting, but someone else had chosen the restaurant, so there was no turning back. The upstairs restaurant is a great space to walk into on a rainy day. They have floor to ceiling windows looking out on Shattuck and the hills, and if you can snag a window table, it's a stunning view. We got there too late for that, so chose a middle table. It's a small cozy room, and I think if you're seated against the inside wall, it could be a little tight. The bartender hadn't been there long, didn't know where the bathroom was...so maybe that means that the margaritas are worth a return visit.

We started off with a Chilean cabernet that the waiter recommended...turned out to be too sweet, but we managed to finish off most of the bottle among the four of us. Service was great in the beginning...water glasses filled, plates brought for sharing, no pressure on letting us sit and catch up on news before ordering. We shared everything:

Corn pancakes with poblano chile crema: these were the best part of the meal. They look like pancakes with pepto bismol on top, but they were hot and the combination of flavors worked.

Flor de guacamole: the colorful chips were interesting, and it was a good shared appetizer. The Mexican cheese and sweet corn elevated this dish from pedestrian to exotic.

We had 3 mains, all of which were huge portions. There was too much going on with each plate...these are earthy dishes, and I think if we hadn't shared, it would have been too one note:

Paella Cubana: Rice with 5 kinds of seafood. The rice was juicy and nicely prepared, but the fish tasted bland, and not terribly fresh. Needed salt to pick it up. We didn't finish this one.

Argentinean BBQ: There was lots of green on the plate, good chimichurri but the sauce overwhelmed the carneasada. Good comfort food.

Xim Xim de Vegateales: this was organic tofu, mushrooms and vegetables simmered in a coconut milk-jalapeno sauce with rice. This was our favorite dish, the fresh vegetables and the sauce were a great match on a rainy night.

We were there from 6-8:30, the wait staff sort of disappeared after the mains were served. It would work if you want a leisurely meal, but towards the end we were ready to go, and needed to get their attention. We decide this was a "B" experience....no hurry to go back, but glad we tried it.

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