December, 3 pm – Zut!

    Sometimes you just have to cast away all manners and enjoy a day in town like a tourist. After a few cups at Teance, Kristen and I were famished. As student I’ve gone lunch-less almost daily without problems, but drinking oolong without lunch is definitely the quickest way to wake up the hungry beast in you. We planned on gorging down pancakes at Bette’s across the street but we missed it by 6 minutes (why on earth do they close at 2:30 on a Friday?), so we dashed back to the other side of the street to Zut with exclamation mark and chose an appetizer and two entrees before the waitress could ask what kind of drinks we wanted. This, in our book, was record fast. However, despite our effort, the food didn’t come out fast enough. On a normal day, we would say the appetizer indeed got out in a really reasonable time, but one thumb-sized stuffed squid plus our extreme tea-induced hunger plus the lack of bread commonly served at Western restaurants really brought out the best of us: we stared longingly in the direction of the staff and the kitchen. The waitress caught our eyes.

    Chorizo-stuffed squid ($9) – too expensive, the spinach is good, the sauce is good, tender squid, but the pepperiness of chorizo offsets the savoriness for me.

    The first time she came back: “Do you need something?” Glances exchanged. “No…” *innocent smile* Longing stare continued… The second time she came back: “Would you like some bread with olive oi..” “Yes PLEASE!” *big wide grin* Four slices. Don’t know if they’re good because they’re good or because we were hungry, but they were gone after 2 minutes. More longing stare… This time our waitress intentionally avoided eye contact. We understand, but would we give up? No. Young as we were (we think), we were desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. We waved at another waiter, said, somewhat alarmed at our own temerity: “Could we have some more bread?”

    Sausage and egg pizza ($15) – pizza’s okay, runny egg yolk on soggy pizza is waste of brain power

    Zut! burger with white cheddar ($14) – the beef patty needs salt, the pickles are fresh, good crunchy fries

    We were more fortunate than Oliver Twist because the waiter was much nicer than Mr. Bumble, as evident by the 6 slices following our request. Unfortunately, they arrived at the same time as the burger and the pizza, so instead of devouring them, we devoured the burger and the pizza. To discover that neither had enough salt.

    Pear cardamom bread pudding ($8) – couldn’t taste either pear or cardamom. There were some kind of grapes which Kristen thought were fresh grapes and I thought were raisins. Ice cream would have been 56 times better than crème chantilly, but the airy crust on top saved the day.

    So that solved the mystery: there’s a thing of salt on every table (not a salt shaker, mind you, but a sort of porcelain cup shape-wise akin to the thing that contains the tea candle, no lid). Without the bread we had no idea why it was there. Anyways they have good fries and good pickles. Dessert menus brought out, the waitress no longer avoided eye contact. Pear cardamom bread pudding looked good. So did grapefruit sorbet. We were really full at this point (Kristen finished only half of her pizza) so we said bread pudding please. Then we thought hey a palate cleanser would be nice because we needed to wash the fries off our palates… what next was only inevitable: “Can we have the grapefruit sorbet before the bread pudding please?” The sorbet dissolved the fullness (maybe it was just an illusion, but it lasted long enough for us to finish the bread pudding). How wonderful is the power of cold citrus things.

    Grapefruit sorbet ($8) – with ginger snap. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    On a normal day Zut (exclamation mark or not) wouldn’t make the cut because we’re not into risottos and paninis, and we like our foods well seasoned, but that pink sorbet made our soul glint, an instrumental version of Memory was playing, the dangling lights on the trees were getting brighter as the sun got lower. The holidays drew nearer. We stood outside for a good five minutes just watching the lights. Silly girls. 🙂

    Address: Zut! on Fourth 1820 4th Street Berkeley, CA 94710 510-644-0444

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    2 comments to December, 3 pm – Zut!

    • Kristen Sun

      Mai, I love your blogs. I love your description of our longing stares lol…Great service in that they recognized that we wanted something AKA food. 😉 But I did love how our waitress avoided our staring after a while!!! Ahh so hungry right now, I need some grapefruit sorbet on reserve all the time now!

    • Mai

      Hehe thanks Kristen 😉 We had such a great time 😛 I like how she avoided us when we wanted more bread but gave us the dessert menu without asking at all, and so promptly noticed when we wanted to add the sorbet before the bread pudding 😀

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