Restaurant Review :: Revival Bar + Kitchen

Revival's exterior, seen at night. Revival is located at 2102 Shattuck Avenue.

Revival Bar + Kitchen, one of the latest additions to the Downtown Berkeley Arts District, offers a fresh approach to food and a singularly unique atmosphere. The venue is the newest venture of executive chef and owner Amy Murray, whose other well-loved restaurant, Venus, is only a stone's throw down Shattuck. Revival maintains Murray's farm-to-table food philosophy while still allowing room for culinary growth with a "snout-to-tail, root-to-shoot" perspective.

Revival's spacious interior features a bar and many seating options for individuals and groups alike.

My accomplice in carbo-loading and I decided to stop by without reservations on a Friday night. What seemed quiet and small from the outside was actually spacious and bustling inside. Revival welcomes all types with its simultaneously classy, contemporary, and casual atmosphere; modern lines and dim lighting created an open, yet intimate, feel. The restaurant seemed to attract many patrons from the nearby arts venues (such as the Berkeley Rep, Aurora Theatre Company, the Jazzschool, and Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse). Luckily, we were seated immediately and served at a decent pace for a busy night.

Lucky Dog Ranch Italian style beef meatballs with salsa verde

Revival's menus constantly evolve with the seasons, and its offerings that night all seemed equally delicious. From its extensive and inventive drink list, my server recommended the "La Barrida" cocktail, and for good reason -- salty, sour, and sweet, it was a riff on the familiar margarita. We also decided to start off our dinner with brick-oven cooked meatballs. The quartet of beef was packed with savory flavor and tenderly cooked, causing my companion to proclaim these "the best meatballs ever."

Grilled del mar swordfish, with delicata squash, grilled escarole, fingerling potatoes, garlic-caper vinaigrette, and crispy house pancetta, and a Trumer Pils beer

For an entree, my dinner date ordered the special of the night: grilled del mar swordfish accompanied by a variety of colorful vegetables. We both agreed that this was a great choice; the punchy flavor of the sides enhanced the subtlety of the fish, making for a vibrant and truly delicious dish. I had the brick-oven baked lasagna -- a risky choice considering my cheese-hating ways. The lasagna was so incredibly light and pleasantly tangy, however, that I soon found I'd eaten every last bite. Our side of green beans was our only gripe; when the waiter brought out a dish with a handful of legumes atop it, I almost giggled at its unimpressive, simple preparation.

Left to right: brick oven baked lasagna with house-made spinach pasta, cauliflower, crimini mushrooms, mornay sauce, and accompanying bread; green beans with sesame and scallion; and a La Barrida cocktail.

For dessert, we shared warm apple cake with ice cream. This modest-sounding dish stole the show with its homey blend of caramel, spice, and nuts. It was addictively good, and not too sweet for my sugar-averse sidekick. The piece was a nice close to a lovely dinner.

Warm caramelized apple cake with autumn spice ice cream and pralined pecans. All photography by the author.

At the end of the night, Revival provided us with a top-notch meal and an unpretentious, soothing ambiance: a truly satisfying experience. Since we are students, I have to mention that we won't be able to afford dining here regularly, especially with its sometimes smaller portions -- but, luckily, the restaurant does serve weekday lunch at more wallet-friendly prices. All things considered, I believe it's imperative to treat yourself out once in a while, and Revival Bar + Kitchen, with its delicious food and welcoming atmosphere, would be perfect for the occasion.

Julie Dinh
BARE Reporter


  1. Some serious nomz going on in this post Julia.

  2. this looks soooo yummy...that swordfish looks divine.