Monday, November 2, $60
- Frisée and rocket salad with confit gesiers, hearts, pancetta, green beans and liver toast
- Poulet à lestragon: spit-roasted Soul Food Farm chicken with tarragon, crème fraîche, wild mushrooms, and fried potatoes
- Meyer lemon meringue tartlet with huckleberries
I'm learning that Chez Panisse not only makes its customers extremely happy, but it seems that you'd be hard-pushed to find a happier workforce, too. Unlike the grim-faced, ashen, exhausted creatures who inhabit some of London, Paris or New York's leading restaurant kitchens, the cooks here genuinely love their work - this isn't some ordeal to survive in order to bolster their CVs and to prove they can hack the worst that can possibly be thrown at them. Many have been Chez Panisse for two decades or more and obviously take enormous pleasure and pride in their work - and each other. I didn't here a single raised voice or cross word - just encouragement and gentle, constructive criticism where needed, which was always received with grace. Split shifts (where you work two shifts back-to-back with a short break in between) are totally frowned upon as it's genuinely understood that cooks working longer than a 9-hour day are too exhausted to work properly - and, more importantly, to have a life of their own outside of work. All very sensible, but sadly, all too rare in most restaurants. (The café chefs doing the early shift start at 7am, but go home at about 4pm, handing over to the evening team). Too perfect to be true? Time will tell, but it's not just the food that they seem to be getting completely right here.