Had an early supper at Ben Dean restaurant on Solano Ave. in Berkeley last night. A great value at only $13.50 for 3 courses - offered from between 5 - 6pm weekdays and also all night on Sunday and Monday. ( I think ... call to confirm these details. ) Last night's menu for Ben's supper, as the early supper value is called, was a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a lemon vinaigrette, chiogga beet dices and a bit of feta(?)....the entree was polenta served with tomato braised pork belly, followed by chocolate pudding. The wedge of iceberg lettuce was well chilled, crispy and sweet - accompanied by a nice tart creamy lemon vin.
The polenta was creamy and almost fluffy - topped with a very satisfying ragout of pork belly shreds with tomato and chilli flakes. The tomato cut the richness of the pork belly and the chilli flakes added a definite zing to it all. The pork bellly was very tender - only the meaty bits were used - no chunks of fat. On a cool night this was a very satisfying dish. The chilled chocolate pudding was a nostalgic ending to this dinner - slightly chilled and topped with a velvety dollop of whipped cream - this was the pudding I remember from the school cafeteria but better, smoother and without the skin : ~ ) The host and the waitress and the other service person were all very friendly and helpful. A great neighborhood place - quiet enough to have a conversation...with food good enough to want to return for more.
Ben Dean Restaurant
1647 Solano Ave @ Tacoma Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94707