There is always that music band that is so good at what they do yet so little known. This is a very intriguing phenomenon. It sort of makes you dumbfounded why more people are not talking about it. This is the sentiment you would have if you accidentally happened to hop into Lamile’s Restaurant. Founded in 1985, by Haig and Cindy Krikorian, Lalime’s Restaurant is an establishment in the North Berkeley neighborhood with a warm atmosphere, a regularly evolving, predominantly French menu, and a remarkable wine list. Since 1985, Lalime’s Restaurant has stayed true to its classical French roots and has never tried to be trendy. This characteristic has allowed the restaurant to remain relevant and develop a loyal group of followers over the years. It’s a fine dining area that is popular with Berkeley residents and relatively easy to make a reservation.
For Berkeley residents, Lalime’s Restaurant served as a classic joint for celebrating accomplishments, birthdays, and anniversaries. For non-Berkeley residents, Lalime’s Restaurant was a destination where you’d be guaranteed to find lots of ample parking space once you managed to get a reservation due to its unique residential location. For Cindy and Haig, Lalime’s Restaurant was first and foremost a family. The couple were friends with most of their clients and celebrated many significant life events at Lalime. In fact, the owners had been friends with some of the clients for so long that they got to witness two of their succeeding generations–their kids and grandkids–which is a special thing.
Lalime’s Restaurant was opened in 1985 by Haig and Cindy Krikorian and operated from a tiny area on Solano Avenue (adjacent to Credit Sage), with Haig Krikorian as the head chef. The name Lalime’s is derived from Cindy’s side of the family and was a tribute to commemorate the family of six girls. When Lalime’s Restaurant opened in 1985, it distinguished itself as one of the few places offering the kind of meals it did, through a diverse use of high-quality products. Haig’s culinary background in classical French cuisine came to play early on during the establishment of the restaurant when he would make use of lesser-known ingredients from a variety of distant regions. However, it was the relationships he established with local vendors that made Lalime’s Restaurant unique. In 1988, the Krikorians relocated the restaurant to the cozy and well-lit storefront at 1329 Gilman Street
Haig has consistently used sustainable, fresh, and organic products grown within a hundred miles of Lamile, an ethos that has defined the restaurant over the years. During the early days of Lalime’s, Haig obtained baby veggies from Michael Norton at the Kona Kai Farms, sea products from Paul Johnson at the Monetary Fish Market, and Liberty ducks from Jim Reichardt at the Sonoma County Poultry. He also obtained ingredients from Berkeley-based foragers, showcasing mushrooms and Meyer lemons picked a couple of blocks away from Lalime Restaurant.
Although Lalime’s was Haig and Cindy’s first and last restaurant in Berkeley, they had opened a couple of others in between. For instance, they founded Fonda, Sea Salt, T-Rex Barbecue, and Jimmy Beans under the K2 umbrella group in Berkeley, all of which have had their fair share of fame before changing ownership or closing.