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basil ice cream and moussaka

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basil ice cream and moussaka

Windy | Jun 13, 2005 01:09 AM

It wasn't really dinner that brought me to Berkeley, it was ice cream. I'd been trying to get to Sketch and kept missing closing time. But worried that a cup of their Strauss yogurt wasn't enough justification to drive over the bridge, I made dinner plans too.

We had dessert first. On a glorious Sunday, Sketch was packed with a long line out the door. The flavors of the day were bing cherry and basil. Basil was exceptional--easily worth driving across the bridge--minty and refreshing. Cherry was okay, but I got strawberry sherbet and the tangy yogurt, and a bag of salted pecan toffee because they were out of marshmallows. I also got a taste of coconut sorbet which was okay but not sigh inducing like everything else in my cup.

Nefeli has always been one of my favorite Berkeley cafes, and if we hadn't had ice cream first, we might have squeezed in Top Dog. I'm still not sure what happened to Odysssia, the restaurant the Nefeli people had on Shattuck for a few years with the dreamy polenta fries and citrusy dolmades. (Anyone know?)

But Nefeli serves many of the same dishes: tapas are available after 4 p.m. We got a few glasses of wine, a plate of dolmades, and two orders of the moussaka special. Dolmades were soggy, but the insides still quite tasty with pine nuts and tiny raisins. Moussaka was a huge plate of layered ground beef, eggplant, and custard, atop sliced potatoes and covered with a delectable tomato sauce. I wasn't sure about the potatoes and it took a while, but we wiped the plates clean. I miss Greek food!

We were too full to enjoy Nefeli's trademark fruit salad, with Greek yogurt, walnuts, and honey, but it's always good to have an excuse to return.

Sketch is on Fourth Street; Nefeli is on Euclid at Hearst.

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