Yesterday was Valentine's Day and a Saturday. The perfect day for a celebration dinner out.
While I usually avoid restaurants on Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and New Year's Eve because prices are generally higher and the restaurants are so busy and crowded that service and sometimes the food suffer, this year, we threw caution to the wind and booked at Eccolo, one of our Berkeley favorites.
They had a special three course menu at the fixed price of $75 per person. The selections sounded delicious and we were able to get a reservation.
The meal started with a complimentary amuse buche, a small empanada filled with prosciutto and cheese...yum!
Then the meal started.
For my first course, I chose the Poached Egg on Toast with shaved Black Truffles. J went for the Grilled White Shrimp tossed with avocado and greens. Both courses were amazing and visually beautiful.
Then, it was on to the main courses.
While neither of us eats much red meat, J could not pass up the Sirloin with Fried Potato Salad. Again, a beautiful plate and a perfectly cooked dish.
I am always tempted by lobster and the Grilled Lobster with Fried Artichokes "spoke" to me. Before dinner I had been talking with a friend about Eccolo's Fried Artichoke Hearts, which are prepared in a Roman Jewish style. They are often on the menu as a first course. Well, surprise of all surprises was these special artichokes were piled into the center of the lobster. I was in heaven and relished every single one.
For dessert, I chose the Citrus Pavlova and J went for the Chocolate Tart. I found the Pavlova a bit sweeter than I desired...I know that meringue is mostly sugar, but it just seemed too intense. All the same, we enjoyed.
While the food was wonderful and special, I probably will save Eccolo for non-special day meals.
Almost as soon as we were seated, we noticed that several more tables had been added to both dining rooms. Our table kept getting bumped by everyone who passed by. We quickly asked to be moved and they were able to find us a better table. We noticed other people who also were asking to change tables. The servers had a difficult time navigating to their tables because the dining rooms were so packed.
The service was leisurely to the point of leaving long gaps between courses. When I realized that my dessert was so sweet, I asked for a cup of tea and Jim a cup of coffee. Again, the wait for the beverages seemed like an eternity. It was long enough for the ice cream that topped my Pavlova to melt.
We always look over the check before putting down our credit card to pay. While the menu stated that coffee or tea was included in the $75 price, there was a charge for our beverages. When J pointed this out to the server, she pretty much brushed it off, but quickly redid the check. When something like this happens, especially in this case where all meals were one price, I am always suspicious...even wondering how the register would allow coffee and tea to be rung up in addition to the meal.