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Aug 28, 2006 04:45 PM

Drinks before dinner at Chez Panisse

Looking for a place within walking distance of Chez Panisse (about 4-6 blocks)where a group of 4 can enjoy pre-dinner cocktails or beer. Atmosphere isn't crucial. Thanks. I tried looking on citysearch, but that site is useless.

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    1. re: lexdevil

      I'll sixth the Cesar recommendation. In Sept, around 7ish, if the sun is out and setting, those big open doors let in light you can only imagine. Feels like you're in a different country/place.

    2. Try Cesar, a tapas place next door. Great drinks and a fun atmosphere.

      1. Cesar often has a wait, and when there's a wait it's packed and noisy.

        Outside of Cesar, the closest full bar is Spats, on Shattuck near University. A block closer is Triple Rock, wine and beer only.

        1. Also, just a couple of blocks beyond Spats, is Downtown (restaurant w/ bar). It's a bit of a walk to the Chez, but the drinks are better than Spats, and it's got the best bar snack ever (deep fried green olives stuffed w/ anchovies). Drinks are not as good as Cesar, but they are solid.

          1. I really dislike Spats, and find the atmosphere juvenile and depressing (just a warning, even though you said atmosphere wasn't important) but then I once had a disaster of a date there...I'd choose Triple Rock over Spats, but definitely check out Cesar first to see how crowded it is; it is my choice pre-CP (well, either that or browsing at Black Oak books :-))

            Downtown has a nice bar, but not a lot of bar tables IIRC, and it also can be crowded and noisy, especially after work during the week. It is also about a 10 minute walk from CP depending upon what type of shape you are in (about three quarters of a mile).

            9 Replies
            1. re: susancinsf

              I was in Spats a few years was depressing. Sort of creepy actually. 15-20 years ago it might have been fine but since then I don't think they've changed the carpeting or cleaned any of that velvet furniture. Seems like there was a good coating of grease on everything. Atmosphere-wise...well it's the "nice" college place you bring your date when you turn 21 or get a fake ID.

              1. re: ML8000

                15-20 years ago it was very similar.

                1. re: wally

                  I guess 15-20 years ago I had a higher tolerance for grease and creepiness. Funny it was perfectly fine back them. Yeah, I'm old, lordy, lordy.

                2. re: ML8000

                  thanks, your description nailed why I dislike the place so much (and besides the memories of that date,when I worked in Berkeley I was forced to go there semi-regularly, because my boss really seemed to like it. No wonder I changed jobs :-))

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    My guess is 50% who have gone there had a bad date...I know I did. Not many alternatives around there though.

                  2. re: ML8000

                    I think the decrepit furnishings could be a draw for some people who like hole-in-the-wall dives (and definitely a deterrent for others), but I know 10 years ago we went there BECAUSE they didn't card (or at least not often). That, and Kip's. I don't know if that is still the case, though.

                    I heard an urban legend that it used to be an opium den. The atmosphere definitely aids the imagination. Anyone else heard that?

                    1. re: coolbean98

                      I know that 28 years ago,(1978 was my first visit, there were others later) it was the same as it is now. It was not anything as classy as an opium den.

                  3. re: susancinsf

                    Spats is awesome. It is what it is. It would be a lot more at home somehweres
                    uphill from Placerville. But yay! we've got it here.

                    That said, I would only take a date there if I felt like creeping her out. It has high
                    potential to weird-out the unsuspecting.