I first read about Gregoire, a French take-out restaurant in Berkeley, more than a year ago. I have to admit that the idea intrigued me. Is there really a market for expensive French take-out food? I guess the answer is yes as Gregoire is still in business.
The concept is very simple. Gregoire offers a lunch menu with a couple of salads and a half-a-dozen gourmet sandwiches for under $8, and a dinner menu with about ten meat and seafood entrees for about $14-17. There are a couple of vegetarian options, as well as potato side dishes ($4.25) and three dessert options ($3.75). The entrees are quite substantial in size (I had leftovers from mine) and come in pretty octagonal boxes that you can flatten. Silver-colored plastic utensils are provided. The menu changes monthly and it emphasizes organic and seasonal ingredients and dishes.
As intrigued as I was with Gregoire, we live too far away from it to take advantage of it. Still, we wanted to try it and a hospitalization in January 2005 provided the perfect opportunity.
I ordered the braised boneless short ribs with pearl onions and mushrooms ($14). The dish came with a little plastic container with the braising liquid and one large slice of sweet potato. The short ribs were wonderful, both by themselves and with the liquid. They were tender, albeit a bit fat, and succulent. The pearl onions and mushrooms were also great. I wish the dish would have come with some bread to soak up the rest of the liquid.
Mike went for the chicken stuffed with chanterelles, wrapped in pastry and served with a walnut sauce ($15.50). He liked it quite a bit, but I thought it was a little bland - of course, my taste buds had been compromised by the short ribs by then.
I also got the thyme & garlic potato gratin. This consisted of a pie of thin potato slices with a creamy spread between them. It was quite good, though I tend to like my potatoes softer. Mike got the crispy potato puffs which were very good by themselves and even better with the sauce they came with. You definitely should try them.
For dessert I got the Meyer lemon bread pudding with chocolate sauce. I don't think the two worked well together. The chocolate sauce was very thick, so much so that Michaela immediately declared it a pudding and took it away. She liked it by itself, but I thought it was a bit too bitter. I liked the small loaf of bread pudding, which actually felt more like a pudding bread; it was like a lemon bread cooked with lemon pudding. It was very flavorful and I liked it well enough by itself.
In all, I thought the meal was excellent. I'm certainly planning to order from Gregoire again after my baby is born.
We have since had Gregoire a couple of times for lunch, and the sandwiches are just as great as the entrees. I couldn't really see the cheese or the mushrooms in the cheese-steak sandwich ($7.50), but the chopped beef was bursting with flavor; it reminded me of the taste of steak in Argentina. The lamb in a roasted lamb sandwich ($7.75) was also very tasty and "lamby." I liked a mango bread pudding ($3.75) - it had a fresh, satisfying mango taste, but it became easily overwhelmed by the tartness of the berry coulis. They just didn't go well together. Mike liked their chocolate mousse ($3.75) but it reminded me of the chocolate mousse I used to make out of a children's cooking book when I was a kid.
Daily 11:00 am to 9:00 pm