Belle La Note

    Summer has rolled around, and it’s time for the restaurants to get flocked with new college graduates and families. We didn’t make reservation last time we went to La Note, and we thought we would have had to wait for 55 minutes. Luckily somebody cancelled theirs, so we only waited for 10 minutes to be seated at a little table near an old piano and a giant fly, looking out to the beaming afternoon on Shattuck Avenue.

    I’ve heard many good things about this cozy corner. I’ve walked past what I thought to be its main door countless times, wondering why the sign “Ferme” is always there and if La Note is ever opened. Finally, we’ve gotten behind those doors. We heard the girls giggling and commenting on its “cuteness”. We read the two-paged menu and saw the chalk board of daily specials. It feels bistroesque.

    Somehow we ended up ordering lasagna at a French restaurant, but it was one of the specials. I’ve had some boring moments with lasagna before, so I didn’t expect much from this Lasagna Bolognese. However, the creamy layers of pasta made it gateau-like, there was very little tomato sauce, the finely grounded meat went unnoticed, and this Lasagna Bolognese sang a harmonious tune at $13.95.

    The Ratatouille Borghetti was a different story. From a Vietnamese viewpoint, vegetable stew over couscous felt like broken rice (cơm tấm) with tomato sauce overload. It was fresh, healthy, vegan if we hadn’t added two runny eggs for extra buttery glueyness. It was tongue-catching at the first few bites, then kinda fell into flat land. Well, we contented ourselves on paying $16.50 to feel good about eating vegetarian.

    Overall, the lovely La Note didn’t pull out the oomph from me. Did I not pick the right dish? Should we have asked for the croques, the bagnats, or the meat du jour? Maybe next time.

    Money matters: dinner for two + tax: $33.42

    Address: La Note Restaurant (since 1997)
    2377 Shattuck Avenue
    Berkeley, CA 94704
    (510) 843-1535

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