Friday, December 10, 2010

Duck leg

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


Curtis Faville said...

If memory serves, this is where a restaurant called A La Carte once was, two tiny rooms of tables, somewhat dingy, by cozy. We hadn't been there in years, but I suppose it must have gone through some "incarnations" over the years, its present "Dig's" the latest.

Charles, we ate at Bottega in Yountville last Saturday. Wonderful meal, in what I suppose--if it wasn't plopped down whole--must have been a working space of some kind formerly. All old brick etc. I hesitate to describe the food, since you can do that so much better than I can. But I presume you must already have tried it. Maybe if I had one of those little I-phones, I could do it. Alas, I'm technologically challenged.

Charles Shere said...

Right. A la Carte was a lovely place, opened by John Zuska, if memory serves; he was an early Chez Panisse hand. I'll have to look him up to see what's become of him: last I heard he'd gone into the floral business, but that was years ago.

The location has seen more than one occupant since; it's always seemed a difficult location, though a delightful room.