Formerly La Rose Bistro on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, La Sen Bistro opened its doors in November. Split between reds and whites sourced from Californian and French vineyards, its wine list reflects the California-French cuisine emerging from the kitchen. Chefs coat duck breast in a honey-pepper sauce and craft a traditional French onion soup with garlic croutons and broiled ementale cheese. They also douse salmon in saffron sauce, pair garlic pommes frites with a ribeye steak, and adorn a vegetarian pizza in goat cheese and ratatouille, a tastier alternative to vegetarian pizzas topped with topiaries.
At Mango Star, patrons can lounge on an outdoor patio while sipping sugary bubble teas, fruit-packed smoothies, and thin, flavorful crepes from a menu that overflows with coffee and café fare. Apply $6 per visit toward hot or cold blended tea ($2.75–$3.75), in flavors such as honeydew, jasmine green, and passion fruit, served with optional tapioca pearls freshly plucked from the mouths of seaside tapioca mollusks. Airborne forks can rip open savory crêpes with gusto, revealing chicken, tomato, pesto, and cheese ($5.95), or gourmet avocado, mushroom, onion, tomato, olives, and cheese ($5.25). Sweet crêpes arrive crowned with powdered sugar and whipped cream and boasting coats of strawberry nutella ($5.25), peach and ice cream ($5.95), and the sweet and tart trifecta of strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry ($6.50). Free WiFi and an outdoor patio let patrons browse favorite dog-fashion blogs while sipping espresso ($2.75+) and gourmet coffee ($1.50–$1.75).
Little Red Bistro, an idyllic café splashed in vivid crimson accents, suffuses its intimate interior with eyelid-unfurling aromas wafting off three kinds of espresso. As the sun inches over the horizon and the boogeyman dives beneath the bed, the bistro’s chefs fold 17 kinds of crepes, ranging from sweet creations stuffed with peanut butter and jelly to savory pockets piled with green eggs and ham. Golden sear marks color seven piping-hot paninis that swaddle gourmet ingredients such as prosciutto, pesto, and roasted red peppers. Sips of frappes flavored with white chocolate and irish cream forge a fitting accompaniment to the café’s homemade desserts, which rotate daily.
Amid a casual environment with warmly colored walls decorated in contemporary paintings and bamboo-framed mirrors, Vanessa's Bistro 2 features lunch and dinner menus consisting of French-inspired Vietnamese cuisine. Choose from house favorites like the maple leaf duck confit lettuce wrap ($9), and the tuna and salmon poke with ginger ($9), or express your gourmand gallantry by ordering the spicy coconut curry chicken ($15), served with a medley of potatoes, carrots, bell peppers and mushrooms. Vanessa's Bistro 2 also boasts extensive cocktail and wine lists.
The two chefs at Cypress rely on more than following great recipes when crafting their fine French foods. They meticulously prepare every batch of béarnaise sauce and pot of coq au vin using sustainable, organic California ingredients as often as they can. They also take pride in their artful, festive presentation, serving their dishes tableside style on gueridons whenever possible and Cirque du Soleil style when they remember to bring their leotards. Servers, meanwhile, toss salads, sizzle up new york steaks with brandy, and ignite strawberry flambés.
Talented chef Lance Hatcher dresses tables in an eclectic menu of gourmet entrees and flaming sweets. Sherry, cream, and lobster melt into a creamy bowl of lobster bisque ($10). For a heartier portion, try the ossobuco of braised-beef short ribs, served with a delectable cache of caramelized cippolini onions and crushed dijon fingerlings ($29). Fig-whiskey sauce accompanies a feast of bacon-wrapped pheasant accented with green apples ($27).
European, Southeast Asian, and American culinary traditions all influence the unique fusion recipes at Vo's Restaurant. Vegetables and rice get simmered in traditional clay pots and prawns and lemongrass are seared in woks; there's even a deep-fried catfish filet with ginger-infused nouc mam, a dip made from fish sauce. The dining room is as colorful as the dishes, featuring warm red walls, bamboo sprouting from tall vases, romantic lighting overhead.