While their other restaurant ventures have come and left, Lalime’s has stood the test of time, which Cindy credits to their adaptability and openness to change. Over the years Cindy and Haig have constantly reinvented themselves. They’ve had to invent new things or keep up with things because, in today’s constantly evolving world, failure to adapt would mean total decay.
Other than being a popular neighborhood establishment, Lalime’s Restaurant had a reputation of providing a seasonal, regularly evolving menu, where Levantine meals such as manoushe served with za’atar and humus coexisted with deviled duck eggs and crispy tripe. Lalime’s Restaurant has been an integral part of the Berkeley community since 1985. It was not uncommon to sight a group donned in small metallic paper hats lounging around the bar in celebration of a birthday. The restaurant has hosted 35 Christmases and New Year Eves, along with many annual mycological society nights, Pinot Noir blind tasting nights, and Mother’s Day Buffets among others.
Some of the features that distinguished Lalime’s Restaurant include the translucent white curtains covering the huge windows facing Gilman Street, the table cloths covered with a whitepaper, carpeted floor, and finished ceiling. The conspicuous brass plaque on the wall near the entrance honoring a deceased client who lived to reach 100 years made it evident that Lalime’s was part of the Berkeley fabric. The honored client was one of the restaurant’s oldest clients and had been a regular at the restaurant for over 20 years. Many of Lalime’s staff have also been members of the establishment for quite some time.
One of the notable members of Lalime’s team was Chef Anthony Paone. Before joining Lalime’s, Anthony Paone worked at the Kenwood restaurant and Sea Salt, which also belonged to the Krikorians. Anthony Paone has been a vital addition to Lalime’s and it’s California-Mediterranean dishes in recent years.
Paone’s starters were something to always look forward to. The flaky tuna confit with parsley, celery, and lemon over warm corona beans was spooned to create a temperature contrast that made the dish unique. The Salt cod Croquettes served with 3 crusted round balls in tomato sauce, anchovy, and olives also showcased the magnificent work characterizing Lalime’s kitchen.
The small-plates part of the menu featured amazing delicacies which include oysters on a half shell and a cheese plate. The Little Gem Salad featured leaves glazed with green majestic dressing and was served surrounded by croutons, roasted beet, and tangerines. One of the items on the menu that was a must-try was the grilled leg of lamb which comprised 5 excellent pieces of meat served with cauliflower puree. The Alaskan halibut was also quite a delightful selection. It featured crisped artichokes, well balanced green olive relish and Meyer lemon, and a little mint. A side dish that was a great accompaniment for the Alaskan halibut, was the pea shoots and morel mushrooms.