Kyle Anderson isn't the first chef to be gobsmacked by Bay Area farmers' markets. He might, however, be the first to chuck an exec chef gig in Omaha, Neb., to wangle access to produce the 28-year-old calls "phenomenal." Together with girlfriend Rose Grabow, Anderson opened Slow, a supercasual slot of a place on upper University Avenue in Berkeley: squat stools flanking a counter that runs along both walls, and Anderson in his open kitchen, deep in the kind of ingredients a man leaves Nebraska for.
The deal: straight-up bistro, grounded in French technique (before Omaha, Anderson worked at Daniel NYC and Charlie Trotter's). Lunch is focused on sandwiches, like the mat of pulled short-rib fibers heaped on sliced pears, horseradish aioli, and mashed goat cheese schmear between slices of La Boulange sourdough. You get a stronger hit of Anderson's time-zone-jumping obsession, though, from the "Margherita," a puff pastry barque (the menu calls it "puffed flat bread") scattered with fresh bocconcini mozzarella and cherry tomatoes Anderson's picked out two blocks away at the Berkeley farmers' market, baked till semi-melting, splashed with syrupy reduced balsamic. The pastry's a commercial product, but it's good anyway ― pick it up and fold it like a hot slice and it sheds pastry layers the way a two-week-old bouquet drops petals.
Slow: 1966 University (at Milvia), Berkeley, 510-647-3663.