César, Expensive But Delicious Tapas In North Berkeley ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Thursday, June 24, 2010

César, Expensive But Delicious Tapas In North Berkeley

I was rather shocked the first time a friend suggested we go to a topless bar -- it just seemed so out of character for her (and for me).

Thankfully, she realized my mistake and gently explained that she'd suggested a tapas bar, not a topless bar. Once that embarrassing little misunderstanding got cleared up, I was finally introduced to tapas. I'm happy to report that I took to them like a duck to water...

Gambas a la plancha with smoked paprika and sea salt

In case you're not familiar with them yet, tapas refers to a wide variety of Spanish appetizers that are served on small plates. Although they're considered appetizers or bar food in their native Spain, here in America, tapas has become a cuisine in its own right.

César is a small tapas restaurant (there's a larger parent restaurant in Piedmont) that has become one of my favorites in our North Berkeley neighborhood. The food is great, especially anything involving steak or shrimp.

My only complaints about César are: 1) It's really noisy so it's almost always hard to hear your companions, and 2) The plates are small, but the prices are not! But in the end, the food is worth it.

Below are photos, descriptions and prices from a meal I shared with my favorite restaurant review friend, Naushon. Not only is she patient enough to wait until I've photographed everything to dig in, she's also always willing to offer comments on the food. Thanks, dear!

Setas (porcini mushrooms) a la plancha (grilled) with garlic parsley oil. These were to die for -- the mushrooms were tender and juicy - Naushon said, "very meaty but also delicate." Apparently, porcinis have a very short season so get 'em when you can. $10.75
Setas a la plancha with garlic parsley oil

Gambas (shrimp) a la plancha with smoked paprika and sea salt. These were my favorite part of the meal. They were juicy, salty, messy and good. Perfectly grilled and nicely balanced flavors with just a little bit of heat. $13
Gambas a la plancha with smoked paprika and sea salt

Hangar steak a la parilla with salpicon (a mix of red and green peppers, hard boiled egg, parsley, vinegar, onion or shallot, capers) served over a piece of hearty toasted bread. This steak was nicely sliced and tasty. The salpicon was good on the steak but not amazing in its own right. $13.75
Hangar steak a la parilla with salpicon

Papas fritas with herbs and sea salt. This tall pile of crispy potatoes shoelaces is deep-fried with fresh sage and rosemary, sprinkled with sea salt and served with aioli. One of my very favorite things to order! $8.75
Fried potatoes with herbs and sea salt

I also ordered a d'Arbo Austrian sour cherry soda which was very nice - $2.75. Although I don't drink the al-kee-hol, myself, if you do, it looks like they've got a great selection of drinks (it is called a tapas bar, after all). Total was $54.60 ($65 with tax and tip.)

César
1515 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 883-0222
Mon-Sun 12 p.m. - 12 a.m.

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1 comment:

Naseer said...

I just found this blog through our mutual friend Jeff, and I really enjoy it. The pictures are excellent, and I definitely want to try some of these recipes. Keep up the good work!