I stopped in late last month for a sandwich and was reminded of the sheer wonderfulness of this little gourmet take-out around the corner from Chez Panisse.
It is almost like having Chez Panisse to go. It has all the same attention to top seasonal ingredients.
I made a date with Roberto to have lunch here today so I could introduce him to Gregoires potato puffs. We also shared two sandwiches.
Anyone who follows my posts knows I am no fan of upscaling or re-inventing classic dishes. Puns belong at a comedy club, not on my plate. I dont want to think about my food or analyze it. I want out and out delicious. The classic clam chowder done right is perfection. Dont mess with it.
Gregoire didnt do that with the cheese steak or the Italian sandwich, he just made them so much better than anything called that before. While you may scoff at the descriptions, if you are fans of these sandwiches, one bite will convince you.
The meltingly tender top quality slices of beef, cheese and thinly sliced, deeply flavorful mushrooms were on an Acme baguette which soaked up the butter and steak juices. A Philly native would weep that such a sandwich could so outclass the original.
The menu says Hobbs mild coppa, fresh mozzarella & roasted tomato on pantofolina.
I took a bite and the memories of every wonderful grinder I have ever eaten rushed into my mind. It screams I am the worlds best, most flavorful, most elegant Italian sandwich, while maintaining its peasant simplicity and integrity. Its the coppa that makes this sandwich.
Sandwiches came with a small marinated white bean and chopped cucumber salad with a little after burn of, I think, oregano. Lovely and not overly oily or vinegary, the marinade was a wonderful complementary balance to the ingredients. The cucumber bits had the crunchy crispiness of a good pickle.
For dessert we split the Mango Bread pudding with red berry coulis.
I hate bread pudding. But since the first time I tried bread pudding at Gregoire many years ago, it is the first dessert I order. The piece of pudding was moist, full of fresh mango and buttery. The tart sauce with a deep fresh berry flavor only made it better.
The dessert portions are small single servings. The only reason we split it was because Im trying to limit desserts.
I usually order lunch at Gregoires because the prices are so much better. A Gregoire sandwich is about the price of some Dennys sandwiches. The lunch salads with meat about two bucks more than McDonalds.
Many of the dinner items are served at lunch in sandwich form at half the price. The dinner selections seem small for the price. However, I am very tempted by some of this months dinner menu:
Baked escargot with roasted garlic in puff pastry, chive cream.
You have to love a place with escargot to go. Will we ever see McSnail?
Sautéed Alaskan halibut cheeks, shrimp sauce
Grilled marinated flank steak, morel cream
Braised & seared pork shoulder with mushrooms and rosemary
Grilled New Zealand lamb T bone, onions & cumin jus
About those potato puffs love them, but I try (ha) to limit my fried potato intake. They are little balls of creamy mashed potatoes with a crispy coating. This month there is a delicious chipotle dipping sauce. They are even good cold after being refrigerated overnight, but the ultimate potato puff experience is at the counter, hot from the fryer. That was my reason for dragging Roberto there today.
The full May menu is on the website below. Next month the sandwiches change. This is the time to snag those cheese steaks and hoagies.
I apologize for this post. Ive been aiming to briefer and more to the point posts. However, Gregoires poetic food, the food of epics, makes me passionate and wordy.
2109 CEDAR St
Berkeley, CA 94709-1567