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César... great tapas in the "gourmet ghetto"

gulf shrimp & spinachLocated in the famous “gourmet ghetto” in north Berkeley, right next door to Chez Panisse; César opened in 1998. The name comes from César is a character from a trilogy of films by Marcel Pagnol – Marius, Fanny, and César – that all take place in a quay side bar in Marseilles. César was the barkeeper.

So, we have a Spanish restaurant in Berkeley, with a French name, owned by Americans. It works… I have been coming here since they opened back in 1998; and have always found it to be a most authentic representation of Spanish cuisine.

pan y tomateThe small open kitchen produces an amazing array of food with pure fresh flavors and simple, yet artful presentations. The restaurant menu changes daily and offers many of it’s signature dishes on a regular basis. The paella and the fried potatoes with herbs & sea salt are to die for. I also loved the pan y tomate, (a Spanish classic); and some whole gulf shrimp wrapped in bacon, done with fresh spinach. Going a bit crazy, I also tried a very well made pinchos de pollo, a la Costa Brava with bell pepper and onions.

pinchos de pollo Cocktails are all hand shaken or stirred; they have a fine by the glass program and a top selection of sherry and grappa as well. A nice touch here is the small bowl of house cured olives served complements of the house. These are perfect with an aperitif or cocktail before dinner.

You will find a gracious and knowledgeable staff , and a modern, yet warm room with large glass door’s opening on warm day’s towards the lively street scene.

otv rating (0 to 20)

food: 17
service: 17
vibe: 16

1515 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, ca 94709
(510) 883-0222


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