Brazen Neighborhood Eatery
Danielle Lirette Vegetables get lots of love at Brazen Neighborhood Eatery, as evidenced by these roasted Brussels sprouts with candied bacon.
4450 West 38th Avenue
Given the excitement that chef's counters can bring to dining rooms, it's hard to believe they weren't always a staple of restaurant design. Rather than being separated from the kitchen by solid walls and a swinging door, a chef's counter lets diners perch on stools just feet from the line, feeling the heat of the flames, hearing the sizzle of ingredients in a hot pan, and taking in the cues -- "Four salmon, all day!" -- that keep the show running.
Not every chef's counter is successful, of course. I've sat at some where the cooks kept their eyes averted, as if they'd rather chop onions all day than make eye contact with a guest. I've had questions answered with a stiffness that says, "Please leave me alone," and been made to feel like a third wheel, tolerated but unwelcome. Counters like these are really booby prizes for diners arriving after all the other tables are full.
But at Brazen Neighborhood Eatery, which owner Chris Sargent opened this fall in Berkeley with chef Lance Barto, the chef's counter isn't a booby prize; it's the golden ticket.More »