So in the last two days, I have eaten at Chez Panisse Cafe, Cafe Rouge, Bizou and Dopo. For me, this pace of fine dining seems almost obscene. But it's been deelish (for the most part).
Cafe at CP for lunch: We shared a *perfect* Little Gem salad with Green Goddess dressing. I finally understood what all the fuss about lettuce at Cp was all about. I'd previously avoided green salads there (not much of a salad eater at nice restaurants). My pickled skate, however, was abysmal. Slivers of mushy, fishy skate with an overly oily dressing. No balance, no oomph. I'm a pickled fish lover - bring me meaty herring or boquerones. But this was awful. I sent it back, and the waitstaff could not have been more gracious. They even comped my dessert: tangerines and dates. Perfect. I've never been wowed by the food upstairs, but the quality of their fresh fruit and vegetables is peerless.
Cafe Rouge for dinner: This was a celebratory dinner, so all stops pulled. We started with their charcuterie plate. Lovely, dense duck rilletes and mortadella (an underappreciated sausage, IMO). The seafood platter with Hama Hamas and crawfish (I didn't get enough of those). I had a steamed spinach appetizer with bottarga and lemon. Amazing. Japanese style (with the water squeezed out and served in cylinders), and beautifully balanced. I didn't separately taste the bottarga, but that was testament to the harmony in the dish. My lamb chop and merguez with pita was handsome and serious. Great char on the chop, although I've had more robust merguez at La Note.
Bizou for lunch: Elegant salad of favas and roasted artichokes languidly draped in parmesan. Tasty and stylish. Entree (appetizer) of grilled calamari. Perfectly toothsome with that slight gooey give on the inside. Lovely room in the afternoon, lovely flowers.
Dopo in Oakland for dinner: Disclaimer - I LOVE Dopo! It did not disappoint. I started with a chunky glass of barbera, and shared some stunning lamb polpettini with watercress (currently my favorite green) and an earthy olive relish. Our fusilli had nubbins of pancetta and lots of little peas. This pasta dish is the best I've had in a few years. It was porky and vegetal and buttery and good. Dopo pizza with anchovies was OK, or maybe I was just at my sensory limit. Flourless chocolate cake was hefty and good. Not spectacular.
Whew. I'm eating in tonight. Spicy lentil stew and cabbage. Homemade.