LaLime's is considered one of Berkeley's better up-scale restaurants featuring Mediterranean-inspired California fare. Like many Berkeley establishments, LaLime's uses mostly organic produce.
We'd attempted to have a family dinner at LaLime's last winter but were thwarted at the last minute by a random power outage at the restaurant. So when my mom-in-law was in town for a visit a week or so ago, we all piled in the car for a second try.
A huge carved pumpkin greeted us outside the door (it was a day or two after Halloween). Inside, was a mix of round and smaller square tables and a pleasantly pitched din of clanking forks and conversation. School house lights cast a low, warm light.
In a nutshell, the ambience was pleasant, if a little stuffier than I'd prefer, and the food was very good, if more expensive than I'd normally go for.
We started with an appetizer of Lucques olives with orange zest, anise, and thyme. These little green olives were citrusy, herby, and delicious.
LaLime's menu refers to entrees as "More Substantial Dishes". Here's what we ordered in that department:
- Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop with Apple-Pear Chutney and Mashed Potatoes ($25) The pork chop was really good (I was very happy with my order.) The mashed potatoes were rich and interesting, the chutney was a perfect complement - sweet and spiced, and the braised greens were also done to perfection.
- Wild Mushroom Stroganoff with Brocolli Rabe ($19) The stroganoff was also excellent - buttery noodles with a light cream sauce of woodsy, wild mushrooms. My sister-in-law felt that the amount of garlic on the broccoli rabe was a little excessive though the rabe itself was good.
- Marmitako: Basque Seafood Strew with Tuna, Prawns, Sweet Peppers and Tomato ($26) I did not taste the Basque seafood stew (too fishy for me) though I did notice that it all got eaten. It was probably the most impressive looking dish we ordered, though.
- Atlantic Cod with Braised Chard and Spanish Chorizo ($25) The cod was extremely tender and the spicy chorizo was a nice complement.
- Mussels Steamed with Pernod, Garlic and Lemon ($12) I also did not taste the mussels but my mom-in-law reported that the sauce was excellent - lemon, butter, mustard and wine.
- Baked Poblano Chile Stuffed With Zucchini, Wild Mushrooms and Fromage Blanc ($9.50) (Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this) I tend to stear clear of the spicy foods but my mom-in-law informed me that it was delicious.
However, none of us liked our waiter, a young man who seemed to lack warmth and social graces. He lost us early on in the process when he told us, "I just want you to know that if you're not ordering appetizers, it's going to be a 30-minute wait." This struck us all as a kind of thinly veiled threat which was not actually offered out of concern for our comfort but, rather, to push us into ordering more food, thereby ensuring a bigger gratuity for himself.
The busboy who de-crumbed our table managed to thoroughly crumb us all, instead. Any crumbs he did not brush directly on to our bodies went straight on the floor.
But we never lacked for food, water, or silverware, so I would not call the service bad, just not great.
LaLime's is located at 1329 Gilman Street. They take reservations via phone at (510) 527 9838 and, apparently, online via OpenTable.com (though we did not try the online system) www.LaLimes.com
Current a la carte menu is at http://www.lalimes.com/tonight.html
Monday-Thursday 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 5:30 - 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 5:00 - 9:00 p.m.