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report on Le Theatre in Berkeley

Jackie | May 30, 200404:04 AM

We had dinner at Le Theatre tonight. We hadn't been there before and had heard pretty good things about the food and not so good things about the service, especially the timing for people who were going to the Rep after, which we were.
We gave ourselves plenty of time by arriving at 6:00. The restaurant was very lightly filled and never did really fill even by 7:30.
My partner started with the jerk shrimp/mango/jicama salad. It was very good. The seasoning on the shrimp was assertive but not overdone and the shredded jicama salad was light and lovely.
I had the asparagus with olive vinegrette. The asparagus tasted almost as if it had been cooked in a tandoori and the vinegrette was a nice addition, although this appetizer was not as good as the shrimp.
My partner had the seafood stew. She loved it. It was filled with mussels, scallops, shrim and one nice size crab claw. The broth is made with saffron and harissa and had a nice, subtle bite to it. She thought she could taste fennel also.
I had the short ribs with couscous, apricots, almonds and roasted shallots. The ribs were lucious and rich with a lovely sauce that tasted of the shallots and apricots. The couscous was a little overdone and the shallots a little too present.

For dessert, I had the frozen coffee souffle, which was more like a heavy, rather muddy gelato. There was a lovely piece of hazelnut chocolate terraine with it. Incredibly rich and wonderful.
My partner made the ultimate dessert score with the lemon poppyseed crepe with blueberry sauce and Tahitian vanilla gelato. At first bite the crepe seemed dull and then the taste of lemon emerged. The gelato was sharp, clean and elegant, everything the coffee souffle was not. Her only complaint was that the Hartney's tea was a tea bag and was served on the side and not immersed in the pot.
Altogether a wonderful meal. The service was enthusiastic, our waitress was very knowledgable. We allowed ourselves lots of time and it was worth it.

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