Counter-service gourmet grub in Berkeley

Cutting out the middle man is never easy to do, unless you can convince Method Man to sell out his uncle Prop Joe for a piece of the E Baltimore drug game, then it's mad simple, son! Cutting out the waiter between you and your food, Slow

Opening next week in B-town and helmed by a chef who slung for Charlie Trotter and Daniel Boulud, Slow'll be dishing out locally-sourced, Euro-influenced American gourmet on the cheap thanks to a counter-service setup, like the BK Lounge, though thankfully sans the bitties, since all they do is they beg and they scrounge. They keep the furnishings breezy-basic with a backdoor patio (adorned with rose bushes galore), polished cement floors and picnic table-styled benching made with wood from an 1822 railroad tunnel -- who knew Hoarders was a stepping stone to a successful interior design business? Vittles include a braised short rib brioche with pears, goat cheese, horseradish aioli and Japanese mustard; a poached salmon with roasted brussel sprouts and blood orange; and a portobello mushroom stuffed with red pepper, mango and "eggplant caviar"-a dip made with mashed roast eggplant, tomatoes, onions, peppers n' spices, so it's almost exactly like real caviar, minus the eggs. And the opulence. And, you know, all of it.

The liquor license is still a couple weeks out, but for the time being you can BYOB-but don't be a punk, and opt for something that pairs well with Cheese.