Emeryville, December 10—IT'S A FAVORITE dish of mine, a good braised duck leg. And that in spite of two early experiences with ducks: raising them, when I was in grammar school (there are few animals dirtier than ducks, or less pleasant in their social behavior); and having them often for dinner when we were first married, when we got them free from a friend who worked for the Department of Public Health, and brought them home from work — always missing one leg. Lord knows what use they'd been to the DPH.
Anyway, finding ourselves in Berkeley tonight at dinner time on a Friday night with no reservations, we remembered the little bistro on Dwight Way where we'd eaten well a few years back. No problem getting a table early in the evening, and I ordered the duck leg, which arrived with a cornmeal soufflé and warm kale slaw. There was a bit of apple mostarda on the duck: unfortunately it was cold, doing mild violence to the hot meat; that was made up for by a lagniappe, a beautifully prepared étouffée of duck confit, quite spicy with cayenne.
Dessert was a very dark, very deep chocolate "budino," intensely flavored though sweeter than we might have wanted, and very well made.
I like this place: the menu's consistent, the technique skilful, the service correct and friendly, the dining room cozy and pretty. Alas, for the second time in a few weeks we've dined in a Berkeley restaurant in its last days. According to TripAdvisor there are 380 restaurants in this town, far too many. In January there will be 378.
Pinot noir/Gamay, Cheverny (Loire), 2009
Digs Bistro, 1453 Dwight Way, Berkeley; tel. (510) 548-2322