Revival Bar & Kitchen is a nice open space that might echo the spirit just a bit. Certainly the food has heart, if not “soul.” We had a really nice lunch there with a good friend a month or so ago. It was a special occasion (OK, it was Friday, same thing) so we ordered cocktails. Gotta test the mixologist as well as the chef to get a feel for the place. Revival is a place that was definitely up for both tests. They appear to take great pride in the mixology skills of those tending the spacious bar that runs along the right wall of the entrance. Among other more traditional drinks, the cocktail menu had several beverages that announced they came chilled in copper cups. Curious, I ordered a Foghorn, a drink billed as a combination of gin, lime, cucumber and a spicy ginger beer. My copper cup was chilled nicely and appealing to the eye, but I could taste the metal and I think it interfered with the flavors in the drink. It was nevertheless tasty, but might have been better served in a less assertive mug. I’m not sure serving pieces should have any flavor at all. It might have been less noticeable on a hot summer day, as the copper did hold the chilll nicely. Our companion had a Pisco-blended cocktail that I sampled and found likewise tasty.
|Cuban Mojo Pork|
|Shrimp Burger Patty|
The BH and I both had the Soup Special, which was a cranberry bean & ham soup. The broth was clear and inviting, with a nice bit of fat floating atop the broth. Soup is so often a form of riced vegetable, which can be quite delicious, but I was impressed that they took the time to develop the flavor in a broth-based version. It’s a longer process if one wants to really bring all the flavors together, there has to be an investment of time. It was honestly one of the best soups I’ve ever had. The beans were rich and it ended up being more evocative of a light summer minestrone, rather than a creamy and hearty winter soup.
Our companion, we’ll call her The Beauty, had a Creamy Polenta with Lucky Dog Ranch Slow- Braised Beef Sugo. Curious about the term, we actually looked up “sugo’ at the table, which we soon learned is simply Italian for “juicy” and is usually used to described a thick meaty sauce that has been slow cooked until the meat is so tender it melts in the mouth. Menu terms & and iPhone = Fun Facts!
By the time we were ready for dessert the kitchen had run out of a few, so we took what they offered. The first dessert was a Vanilla Panna Cotta (an Italian version of something akin to flan, but not as eggy, and slightly more gelatinous), topped with chunks of a rich plum gelatin and served with an exquisite fresh fig. I really enjoyed the soft vanilla cream mingled with bites of the rich plum jelly and the fig.
|Panna Cotta with Fresh Fig|
We all loved our meals. I was thrilled to find yet another stellar place to eat in my environment. I thought the place was pretty, the service was attentive and swift and the food excellent. I’ll definitely be back. Maybe not as regularly as every Sunday, but as soon as I can make it!
Check it out for yourself, and Bon Appetit!
Revival Bar + Kitchen
2102 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
Author's Update: Went back again yesterday (3/3/11) and it was even better than I remembered. I had a duck leg confit with spinach salad, and both were among the best I'd ever had. Duck meat fell off the bone, rich, fatty and not at all gamey. Spinach was perfectly dressed, and had tangerines and a stellar dressing. Cocktail menu's changed for the better as well. Not super crowded, so if you want to keep it around, I say go! go! go !!
Sound: moderate & boisterous, but no trouble hearing
|Pumpkin Pot de Creme|