Origen is a new Berkeley restaurant on Telegraph Avenue not far from Ashby. It has a Farm to Fork Mission bringing what is fresh in the markets daily… to the table that night. The interior décor features a sleek marble topped bar, interesting Botanical Prints, a semi open kitchen with an In-Kitchen Chef’s Table and lovely pendant lighting. We arrived a few minutes early for our reservation and opted to have a drink in the bar. The cocktail menu is interesting, as it is also Seasonally Market driven, opting to offer specialty drinks that include fresh ingredients including hand pressed juices. We enjoyed a Pomegranate Drop made with FAIR Vodka, Lone Oak Poms and Plymouth Sloe. There is full bar, so straight up drinks are also available.
We moved to our table and perused the “hot off the press” menu for the night. We started out with International Olives which were terrific and ordered wine from their “by the glass” menu. Our first starter was a very unique, delicious, crunchy Flash Fried Coke Organics Spinach topped with cracked pepper and sea salt. This was excellent finger food although most might be tempted to use a forks but we don’t recommend it. Another unique dish was the E.U.T.S. Fried Green Tomatoes made with buttermilk, breadcrumbs and reggiano cheese. This was light and a must starter when it is available. Next, we had their Wood Fired Pizza. The Riverdog Butternut Squash Pizza with gorgonzola, Italian pignoli and Pinnacle red onions was quite tasty. Next time, we’ll ask to leave it in the oven for an extra minute, as we prefer a crisper browner crust. Our favorite large plate was the Paella del Mercado de rancheros. It was slightly spicy like we prefer and made with Matiz calasparra rice, house sofrito, saffron, olive oil, Laughing Bird shrimp, McGinnis delicate squash, pistachios, Ledesma piquillos and Happy Boy sage allioli. This was a very satisfying entree. The shrimp were so tender and juicy and the pistachios truly added a unique crunchiness! The wines that we enjoyed included the Etude Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Gris which paired well with our starters and the Brumaio, Marche Sangiovese which paired perfectly with the Paella.
We always save room for dessert. We enjoyed the housemade Flourless Chocolate Cherry Cake made with quince and dried cherries. A Maclaughlin Espresso and a 2006 Vinedos Ithaca California Late Harvest Garnacha Peluda were the perfect finish to our lovely dinner. Co-Chefs Daniel Clayton and Trace Leighton have created a perfect restaurant for Berkeley with their philosophy of sustainability, using local Artisan providers and a seasonally driven menu which changes daily. Origen is open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday and will shortly begin serving lunch and weekend brunch.
2826 Telegraph Avenue
Berkeley, CA. 94703