The strip of Shattuck Avenue between Virginia and Rose streets in Berkeley has come to be known as the "gourmet ghetto" among locals. This neighborhood, which accreted around Chez Panisse, sports many venues for fine dining. However, there is one fine restaurant that is almost exclusively carry-out. On Cedar Street, not more than two numbers off Shattuck, is a small white square building with a pair of short picnic benches under a blue awning. This is Gregoire Restaurant. Inside is barely large enough space for a person to select a drink from the fridge, another person to make an order, and some other person to receive their food.
There are three stools at a counter that look across the grill into the open kitchen and provide the only indoor seating. Gregoire Jacquet, proprietor and chef, works the minute kitchen in which the stove, deep fryer, grill, warmer, oven, and sink, are all within an arm's reach, and carries on conversation with whomever might be so lucky as to have a seat at the counter, as well as shouting commands in French to the sous chef and the cashier.
The menu is centered around Continental-style cooking with the heavy influence of California's wide-ranging agricultural production and tastes. Every month, the menu changes. (Like many of the restaurants in this neighborhood, ingredients are claimed to be locally produced and organic or free range, as appropriate.) The lunch menu lists various sandwiches, generally one chicken, one duck, one beef or lamb, one paté, one fish, and a quiche and a couple salads. The dinner menu is a list of entrees, again the gamut of kine, fowl, and seafood. On both menus, there are always at least four potato dishes available. Orders are packed into cute octagonal cardboard boxes lined with a slip of black and white checked paper. Sauces are included in closed plastic cups as necessary. Although it is a carry-out menu, it is not cheap (this is the Berkeley gourmet ghetto, understand). Lunch runs around $9, and dinner can easily hit $20 with an entrée and potatoes. (Any civic surcharge on the use of cardboard in food service is likely included.)
More than a few weeks ago, a friend and I shared a pile of 10 scallops, each wrapped in a thin slice of potato and deep fried, served with a thick tomato sauce for dipping. The play of crisp potato and succulent scallop was divine. We also enjoyed a chicken breast wrapped in pancetta, served with a chicken broth reduction and ordered a potato gratin with wild mushrooms. These entrees came with a couple of stalks of the tall thin broccoli, sautéed with garlic and sherry. More recently, I had sautéed petrale sole with a salsa of blood oranges and sweet onions. The salsa was a wonderful amalgam of sweet, soft, crunchy, onion, citrus, cilantro.
Open 11am to 9pm daily.