Winning the title of best museum cafe is like being the best airplane or hospital cafeteria food: The bar is set pretty low. But Babette, the farm-to-table cafe inside the Berkeley Art Museum, happily ignores the standard museum-cafe tropes. Both of Babette's owners have deep roots cooking in the Bay Area, and their original intent was to open a free-standing full-service restaurant. They never lost their vision, they just scaled it back a bit. With a stylish modernist-meets-verdant design and a locally sourced menu that switches each week, it's easy to forget where you are. Expect rustic fare that spans the globe, like red beans and rice with collard greens, Vietnamese chicken banh mi, beef and basil daube, and a goat-cheese-and-heirloom-tomato tart. With food this good, it's no surprise that many of Babette's walk-in customers have no idea the cafe is connected to BAM.
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