They call it Slow Food, but let me tell you that some of the biggest lines are at the drinks tables. Of all the sections, though, I have to give the nod for the beer pavilion as the best of them all. Why? Not just because it's the quickest service, but because of the diversity and breadth of the selection. The beer pavilion is divided into three bars, each representing a method of beer delivery: bottle, cask, and draught (below).
All these rockers--young and old--were buying wine. And thanks to Peter Eastlake of Vintage Berkeley wine shop, who organized the whole wine pavilion, they were sipping on some unusually good vino.
In yesterday's New York Times, Eric Asimov wrote a thorough account of his attitudes toward Napa Valley Cabernet. He voiced a preference for a certain sort wine we'd call "old school" (he called them "balanced," "restrained," "subtle," and "nuanced"). He describes many Napa Valley Cabernets, however, as "jammy fruit bombs that overwhelm food."
The answer has nothing to do with the always-sensational roast chicken or the fact that Thierry Lovato, the wine director, paired it for me with a half bottle of lovely Crozes-Hermitage from Domaine Combier, an interesting if not classic choice. No, the real shocker in the photo is the glass, which you can see is not the regular old lousy Zuni wine glass. Rather, it was a thin-rimmed, deftly shaped bowl that worked beautifully for wine in every way that Zuni's regular glass (at left in the picture below) does not.
After months of traveling and nose-to-the-grindstone work, I finally made it to Orson, only about six months after it opened. Considering that restaurant critics don't even give new joints the customary two-month lag before reviewing them anymore, my tardiness could be seen as more than genteel. Anyway, I wasn't going in to review it but to enjoy it. And, largely, that's what I did.