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Restaurants & Bars

Berkeley – Bendean’s 3 course $13 Early Bird Special

rworange | Aug 2, 200501:24 AM     1

Actually it’s called Ben’s Supper, changes daily and is available from 5-6 pm Wednesday thru Monday. Bendean is closed Tuesday.

It included:

K’s lettuces, lemon cucumbers, cherry tomato, basil dressing
Rigatoni, pancetta, chile flake, tomato sauce
Pound cake, strawberry sauce

The basil dressing was light yet creamy and the perfect complement to the excellent lettuce, cucumbers and generous serving of sweet cherry tomatoes.

The Rigatoni was simple yet deeply satisfying. Every bite was savoured. The chile flakes gave the dish spice and not heat. I used a spoon to get every bit of the fresh tomato sauce with pieces of pancetta and topped with fresh grated cheese. Lovely with a glass or red wine.

The two small pieces of pound cake on a few spoonfuls of a thin strawberry sauce was fine. The dollop of fresh whipped crème was very nice.

A basket of French bread came with the meal.

Two dishes ordered off the regular menu were not so successful. Bread and butter pickles with onions had a wonderful crunchy texture but there was too much tumeric and they were, if possible, saltier than pure salt.

The heirloom tomato salad was overpriced at $10, filled with halved cherry tomatoes and three small pieces of a yellow tomato. That lovely basil dressing was on this as well, but with a handful of pine nuts which made the dressing itself even better. The mozzarella was good if not memorable.

The staff was very pleasant and my server said the special usually changes every day. There are absolutely no substitutions.

The interior is a little too stark for my tastes, but sitting at the window seat facing Solano was pleasant. The regular prices seemed high and I’m not sure I’d ever order off the regular meal. I do plan to try the special a few more times. Maybe it will seduce me into upgrading on a future visit. My first experience at Bendean’s has me agreeing with this East Bay Express review (link below) that says

“Bendean's understated charm seduces rather than awes. Velasquez' food doesn't intoxicate you with luxury, blast you with spice, or educate you with its pedigree. But after a visit or two, you may find yourself stopping to read over the menu every time you pass by, wondering what delicious twists it hides.”

Link: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/issues/...

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