From January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants
THE SCENE. Bespectacled twentysomethings wander over from Politics & Prose, and neighborhood locals, chefs, and pundits jostle--and often endure long waits--for a spot at the bar or communal table at this intimate, Berkeley-fied haunt.
WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Nobody does comfort food with city-folk appeal like Carole Greenwood. And host and co-owner James Alefantis is a charmer.
WHAT YOU WON'T. The no-reservations policy works fine on weeknights but can be tough during the weekend rush. Waits might drag on longer than you're expecting, and if you're seated late, a good bit of the short menu can be sold out. And Greenwood's follow-her-bliss style results in a ragged inconsistency, with wonderful, spirit-lifting meals followed by indifferent ones.
BEST DISHES. Chicken livers on toast with bread-and-butter pickles; pan-roasted mussels; shrimp and grits; from the wood grill, whole branzino, lobster, or Greenwood's signature sirloin, mammoth and full of savor (a Fran Leibowitz quote on the menu reads: "My favorite animal is steak"); caramel ice cream; Texas chocolate cake.