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Aaron | Jan 4, 200608:17 PM     19

Okay, so the first time I had a mediocre meal at the Cafe at Chez Panisse, I figured it was just an "off" night at the restaurant. I recently returned, and my meal wasn't mediocre, it was horrible! I ordered a shrimp and shaved fennel salad to start...Blech, it had a horridly fishy odor, was ovepowered by a storm of chopped dill and the fennel barely tasted like anything. For my meal, I ordered a "Pan seared" chicken breast with cauliflower. Though the caulflower was quite tasty, the chicken was breaded, fried and tasted remarkably similar to the greasy chicken fingers served at my elementary school cafeteria. Dessert was good, an apple tart, but let's be honest, it's pretty hard to mess up puff pastry and fall apples. My companions' meals were equally terrible, though one person did have a delicious plate of cardoons with mustard vinaigrette and prosciutto.
So I'm wondering, has anyone else had this experience, or does this restaurant sometimes live up to its stellar reputation. I'm very hesitant to brave the snobby service, horrible wine list (for California cuisine, there aren't more than two Californian wines on the menu), and outrageous prices, but if it truly is worth it, I could be tempted to give it another shot.

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