Origen: a Farm to Fork Restaurant CLOSED 2826 Telegraph Ave./Oregon St., (510) 848-9200. L Tu-F, D Tu-Sun; $$.
The restaurant’s name is a Catalan word meaning “from the source.” The locally-sourced menu changes daily and features international flavors, Catalan influences, and a small plates presentation. Chef-owner Trace Leighton says, “We do large flavors on small plates.” My meal began with a stiff 50’s-style “freight & salvage” highball made with Redemption rye, Chartreuse, and Carpano. It took the edge off. My companion and I ordered everything to share: really good potatoes bravas with aioli, pan-fried baby Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and aged sherry vinegar, a silky wilted spinach salad with beets and pecans (it definitely wasn’t wilted, but was still very good). We enjoyed a highly-seasoned, spicy paella--one variety is available each day--with shrimp, pistachios, and squash; it had a creamy consistency like a risotto. Room remained for just a few slices of the tasty Basque chorizo pizza made in a wood-fired brick oven and so most of it went home with us (it measured 9 inches and featured a soft, fluffy, chewy crust). Many items can be prepared vegan by request. A five-course prix fixe menu with optional wine pairings changes daily. Desserts include homey bread pudding, a scrumptious butterscotch-pecan blondie, and assorted artisan cheeses. Polished wood paneling and accents by Berkeley Mills provide a warm decor, and some booths offer comfy seating. My favorite touch is the soft dish towels that are used as oversize napkins.
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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers