Chef Ruben Ramirez, pastry chef Turgo Jeune, and sous-chef Liran Mezan, in Santa Fe Bar & Grill's organic garden.
1310 University (at Acton), Berkeley, (510) 841-4740. Lunch served Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner served Sunday through Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: lot available. Noise level: normal.
Given the time of year and the house respect for good produce, it's no surprise the strawberries ($7) are the venue's outstanding dessert: Good enough on their own, they're stuffed here with a sweet tomato jam, drizzled with a honeylike balsamic reduction, and served with a light, almost intangible mascarpone sauce. The other desserts are good too: a dense, fudgy bittersweet chocolate cake ($7) studded with macadamias, topped off with brûléed banana and smoothed over with a crème anglais scented with rum; a pretty good crème brûlée ($7) made with Tahitian vanilla beans; and a lovely slice of cheesecake ($6) rendered tropical with a crust of macadamias and a coulis of mango.
The wine list, helpfully assembled by consultant Alan Goldfarb, ranges far and wide in both origin and varietal selection, with 75 items (including 41 whites) from Tasmania, New Zealand, and Chile as well as the prominently represented local product and French and Northwestern vintages. Six reds and nine whites are available by the glass ($4 to $8); we especially enjoyed our dessert-time glass of dark, sweet Quady Elysium black muscat ($4.50).