Dinner for two in East Bay (One is a vegetarian, the other not)
My boyfriend won dinner for two at the restaurant of his choice. He is a vegetarian and I am not, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to spend more money on food then either of us ever have before. We want to dress-up. We want fancy. But I don't want to eat at Greens and he doesn't want to eat animal (fish would be OK, not ideal, but OK). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I have the same issue, except my boyfriend also doesn't eat fish, and it can be surprisingly difficult to find good vegetarian food at an upscale restaurant (especially if you don't want to continually end up with some kind of mushroom pasta/polenta deal, which seems to be the boring default veg meal.) Supposedly, Chez Panisse will prepare a vegetarian version of its prix fixe menu if notified in advance. I've also heard great things about Lalime, although I've never been and don't know how much veg food they have. Best idea--find a place you both really want to go to, then ask them to fax you a menu so you can see if the b-friend will be able to eat.
I was thinking of Chez Panisse also, but was a bit reluctant to follow the "subtle disappointment" thread by recommending CP :)
That said, I don't eat red meat, and when we had dinner there in October (quite a lovely experience, I must say), the waiter was very nice about substituting a vegetarian option for the main course (lamb) while keeping the rest of the prix fixe menu intact for me. I'm not positive, but it seemed that they have a full vegetarian multi-course version of whatever they're featuring on a given night, and one could order it without advance notice. Probably best to check the website or call first though, to be sure.
I'd recommend that you look at Lalime's menu, which is is posted on their web site. Also, my sister and brother in law who are also vegetarians who occasionally eat fish have discovered that Tuesday is generally "fish night" at Chez Panisse.
Although I like Lalime's, I wouldn't categorize it as a dress-up and splurge restaurant. Are you committed to the East Bay? What about Millenium in San Francisco, which is vegan?
I am a regular at Lalimes, and dress up when I sit at a table with friends and dress casual when I eat at the bar. I eat the vegeatarian entree at times and I am not a vegeatarian. Sometime I can have a meal from the appetizers. You won't find any food 'towers' but you won't go home hungry either.
Dona Tomas, on Telegraph above 49th in Oakland, has got beautiful atmosphere, excellent service, and very creative takes on Mexican regional cooking. Though I've not often eaten vegetarian entrees there, they always have several entrees that are veggie, several tasty-looking fish options (and a consistently good seasonal ceviche), and a wide array of very excellent appetizers/sides that are vegetarian...
Every time we've been there it was a transcendent eating experience. Check out their menu at the link below, in particular the Chiles Rellenos de Calabaza and the Caserola con Huitlacoche.
We've also found that if we ask real nice, they will bring us sides from the entrees, like, say, those white refried beans.
Here is a short list of good places to spend money on food in the east bay. If you want good veggie options at all of them:
-ajanta - indian - berkeley
-bay wolf - laid back - california cuisine in oakland
-kirala - sushi - berkeley
-yank sing - dim sum (expensive) - downtown sf
-dona tomas - mexican - oakland