I forgot to mention that Matt and I went to Downtown Restaurant (2102 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley) yesterday in celebration of his political career. I promise to write more about this place in the future, but I have to say I always love having lunch at Downtown, a fine dining establishment with an open, airy, casual Gestalt. The roast chicken of any preparation is always good, and yesterday they served it atop warm couscous that had been mixed with arugula and frisee. There might have been a touch of vinaigrette in there, too. All the chicken juices and the reduction I detected, along with the chunky mushroom cuts, infused the couscous with a rich flavor. The quality of the chicken was superior. It must have been one of those organic jobs, or else brined, or both. Matt got his usual, fried fish sandwich. A nice, thick filet of some sort of light-fleshed fish was loaded up on a ciabatta roll and served with frites. We shared a slice of chocolate torte that had such a thick layer of ganache you had to chisel it off with a fork – excellent! The meal cost us a total of $61, which included two iced teas, two coffees and the fried olive appetizer. The latter is a must. They buy these anchovy-stuffed olives from The Spanish Table (1814 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley) and bread and deep-fry them. You squeeze a little lemon over them and nibble by hand with the baguette slices they serve. Incidentally, they carry two kinds of anchovy-stuffed olives at The Spanish Table and were unable to tell me which they sell to Downtown. I bought both but have yet to get beyond eating them right out of the jar or can.
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