Berkeley’s New Food Generation ~ Nicolas Boer ~ September 6, 2003

Let’s call it "Sud Park"- a new generation of dowtown Berkeley business restaurants south of the gourmet ghetto. My reasoning? *Sud means south in French (the best restaurants here are French). *Sud Park evokes “South Park”- a wacky TV show that reflects Berkeley’s stubbornly strange character. *SUD could be an acronym for “South of University District”- where all the action is happening. *Finally, I like Sud Park because trying to “park” will be your biggest concern. And the farther sud you go, the better your luck will be .... I had dinner at La Note on Friday (it’s only open Thursday-Saturday), the night La Note adds an accordion player to the joie de vivre. I especially enjoyed it when he broke into a little Black Sabbath to see if anyone was paying attention. Our party of four was happy with the food, especially with a strawberry-rhubarb tart and the appetizers. Plates of smoked salmon and warm goat cheese with toasts were just so French and so fabulous. Owner Dorothee Mitrani-Bell has struck just the right note at La Note (it opened six years ago, in a circa 1875 building), and I’m guessing her high-value, low-stress approach is the sign of things to come. Bell isn’t interested in starting new trends, she just wants to capture and retain the charm of Provence. ...”When I came here, Shattuck was nothing,” Bell says, “There’s definitely a revival.” As for the Sud Park concept, Bell sees a few restaurants leading the way. If their theme happens to be rustic French (reminiscent of Chez Panisse in the Gourmet Ghetto era), so be it. Alice Waters may have drifted a bit toward California Cuisine and away from her French roots, but Bell is going back to the ghetto. “We’re the younger generation,” Bell says, “We’re balancing out Alice.”

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