In the long list of sufferings a man will endure so that he may eat a great meal, crossing the bridge to Berkeley ranks somewhere near the bottom between self-immolation and, oh, Uggs.
Bringing Berkeley's best cuisine closer to home: Verbena, from the Gather folks, opening tonight in Russian Hill.
Cheffed by Esquire Chef of the Year Sean Baker (best known for — surprise — seasonal vegan food that doesn't suck), Verbena's menu offers everything from duck meatballs with black mole to quail with hedgehog mushrooms and the ever-substantial beef rib.
For libations, they've brought on French Laundry alum and Wingtip wine director Michael Ireland and his streamlined program of choice glasses. And with a who's who of top flight beers and one of the most esoteric cocktail lists you're likely to see (e.g., a pisco, chamomile honey and absinthe Beekeeper’s Folly), lubrication won’t be an issue.
As for the environment: Verbena oozes date night, with a two-story ceiling, romantic lighting and elevated mezzanine seating.
So leave Berkeley to the bridge enthusiasts and UC kids. The best reason to go just came to you.