When my dear friend Shaun Saunders invited me to dinner in Berkeley, I was not looking forward to the drive across the Bay Bridge. But, since I had not seen him in months, I thought that catching up with him at a new restaurant he recommended would be a fun adventure. Plus, I knew Shaun’s taste and he would never take me to any place less than fabulous.
We turned onto a dark off ramp that lead us past some old industrial building in Berkeley, California. It was a part of town that I was not familiar with. My mom and brother graduated from UC Berkeley, so I had spent time in the gritty college areas of University Avenue and Shattuck. Honestly, I was not a big fan of Berkeley. I live in San Francisco, so everything that I could ever want is steps away from my front door. Or at least I thought.
ZUT! The new restaurant that we would be dining at was tucked away on 4th Street in Berkeley. Because I rarely crossed the bridge, I had no idea about this sexy, chic part of town. After we passed the spooky industrial buildings, we turned onto 4th Street and it was lit up light like a festive carnival. The trees glistened with bright colored lights and the shop windows shined with lovely merchandise. I was delighted to see all the wonderful shops on the street including Jigsaw London, Anthropologie, Benefit Cosmetics and Zinc Details.
The restaurant was buzzing with filled tables and the aroma of fresh Mediterranean cuisine. Reminiscent of a restaurant that you would find in a major metropolitan area – the atmosphere was energetic yet subtly sophisticated. When it came to the list of libations available, I was impressed with the extensive wine offerings that the manager Michael Petrilla walked me through. They pride themselves on your homemade cocktails created with locally crafted spirits. Jim Wimborough, the famed chef who has worked at Home, Kokkari, Grand Café, Boulevard and Rubicon in San Francisco has now made ZUT! His home. And he was serving up some of his own delicious recipes for us that night. We were lucky enough to enjoy a chef’s tasting menu, which included:
Scallops with caviar (my all-time favorite dish!)
Stuffed local squid with chorizo, mint, garlic and lemon
White beans roasted red peppers, braised greens and goat cheese
Meze platter of roasted pepper, smoky eggplant & hummus spread, grilled pita, crispy smelt and garlic lemon aioli
Arugula with sierra beauty apples in a walnut vinaigrette
Roasted beets with orange, mint and feta
Point Reyes blue cheese, fig jam, candied walnuts and arugula
Chicken rotisserie with roasted brussels sprouts, bacon, lemon and dill
Local halibut served with braised turnips, carrots, parsnips, Turkish bay and aioli
Filet mignon with smashed French fingerlings, escarole and herb butter
Surprise? Indeed! Will I return, you bet. ZUT! Is definitely worth a drive across the Bay Bridge for San Franciscans who tend to stay city side.
Now that the weather is getting better, I would make ZUT! and 4th Street a daylong adventure. Head over in the afternoon, spend the day shopping, and then enjoy a lazy dinner on the patio at ZUT! overlooking the 4th Street shops. Order a glass of champagne and a Meze platter with Scallops with caviar to start, then dive headfirst into a few dished to share. I recommend the roasted beets with the Point Reyes pizza followed by Filet mignon and the Chicken rotisserie.
But save room for dessert! Jim’s wife joined the team as their dessert chef and her creations are phenomenal. We shared a few and my favorite was the Chocolate torte of bittersweet chocolate, whipped crème fraiche and seasonal berries. Ask about the extensive list of aperitifs and dessert wines to accompany your sweets – you’ll be quite impressed with the ZUT! experience.
Zut! On Fourth is located at 1820 Fourth Street, just off Hwy. 80 at the University exit between Hearst and Delaware Streets, in Berkeley, California. There is free parking in an adjacent lot. Get directions.
Lunch 11:30-3:00pm. Bar Menu 3-5:30pm. Dinner 5:30-9:30pm.
Lunch 11:30-3:00pm. Bar Menu 3-5:30pm. Dinner 5:30-10:30pm.
Brunch 10:30-3:00pm. Bar Menu 3-5:30pm. Dinner 5:30-10:30pm.
Brunch 10:30-3:00pm. Bar Menu 3-5:30pm. Dinner 5:30-9pm.
For more information or for reservations call (510) 644-0444.
1820 FOURTH STREET · BERKELEY · CA · 94710
TEL: 510.644.0444 ·