Unfortunately low light and photography don't mix well, otherwise we would have probably over-documented this awesome meal. Chris asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday and I said Chez Panisse. If you haven't heard of Chez Panisse, it was started and is owned by the chef Alice Waters. She was a major force in creating the local food movement and is a proponent of the culinary philosophy that food should be made with the best and freshest local ingredients. She's currently VP of Slow Food International.
Chez Panisse has both a restaurant and a cafe. I loved the cafe when I went before, but Chris really wanted to try out the restaurant. The restaurant creates a set meal with a theme and so the courses are supposed to blend rather seamlessly together, which they absolutely did. The night we were there they had an Asian theme, which, as far as I could tell, was based at least in part off of Chinese five spice. We started off the meal with the dish above, the main course was a fantastic duck dish with an accent of anise.
I'm sad to confess I made at least two courses of the bread. After avoiding snacks in the afternoon so I'd be adequately hungry for the meal, I arrived famished with very possibly the best bread I've ever had in front of me. And so, yes, at an expensive restaurant, I asked them to bring me more bread and butter.
I'm trying to convince Chris that the cafe is a very different experience, so obviously we need to go back sometime soon. Possibly with people so we can all sample food.
Here was our menu:
Green bean and eggplant salad with farm egg and sesame
Salt and pepper squid with basil and coriander
Sonoma Liberty duck breast with star anise, turnips, and wild mushrooms
Kashiwase Farms pluot tart with ginger ice cream