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Where (not too expensive) for a Birthday Dinner Tomorrow (Sun.) Night in Berkeley?

oakjoan Dec 3, 2006 06:57 AM

We went to Brennan's for our last b'day party and don't want to go again. Where's another place that about 8 of us can dine that's not too expensive. Nothing too outre. These folks are somewhat food conservative.

  1. j
    jonnypea Dec 5, 2006 02:50 PM

    okay, so, maybe I'll never recommend Giovanni's again...
    (but I will mention this to the managers next time I am
    was some years ago I dined at Beckett's, might have to
    pay another visit there myself...
    in re to pub grub, I was going to suggest the Kensington
    Circus, but I don't think they're open on Sunday nights...

    1. oakjoan Dec 4, 2006 08:28 PM

      We ended up at an "Irish Pub" called Beckets. It's on Shattuck where the Metropole used to be, I think.

      We walked from the Scrabble tournament site (The Original (The saddest place on earth but they have a big back room they let us use for tournaments)to Giovanni's because we thought it was big enough and not too terrible (sighing for loss of Salerno's all the while). We got there and found that we'd have a 20 minute wait. We waited for 20 minutes and then, when we asked if our table was ready were told "It'll be about 20 minutes." So Robert's comment about lack of repeat business is apparently incorrect....unless they just keep finding new customers!

      So we walked back down Shattuck to Beckett's. We waited there about 20 minutes, too, but were then seated comfortably. The food was not great but I ended up having a Cobb Salad which was actually quite good. My husb. had a steak pie which was much less successful.

      The best dish was one that I almost didn't try - snearing at its strangeness.....salmon quesadillas. They were great! Who'd a thunk it?

      They have lots of beers with weird names like Old Broken Down Mill, Skid Row Stout, Deadly Avalanche Porter, etc. (all made up so don't ask). I can't remember the actual names. I had a non-alky beer that was pretty good - started with a B and I'd never heard of it before. Bentons?

      So we all enjoyed ourselves mightily even though the food wasn't that great and even though one of our party left in a huff when he saw the menu - "It's ENGLISH food fgodsake!!! I mean COME ON!"
      Another person who attached herself to our group was loud and overbearing for a while (yammering on about Michael Richards, OJ, Regis Philbin's co-host who's name I don't remember and Mel Gibson.
      When she finally stopped (she got a big glass of wine which apparently calmed her), we all got down to the business of enjoying ourselves.
      We Scrabble players are a riotous lot, eh?

      Anyway, I expect a barrage of "How could you eat that swill at Beckett's (or is it Becket's?)....you should have gone to _____.
      I didn't push for the other places I had in mind because it seemed like such a big deal just to get this group to decide on anything.

      2 Replies
      1. re: oakjoan
        PateBriseej Dec 4, 2006 09:11 PM

        Actually I've been wanting to go here some rainy afternoon. I hear they have a fireplace? I love pubs and that's basically what Becketts is. Sometimes a good attitude makes the food better that and a really good pint of beer.
        : ) PJ

        1. re: PateBriseej
          Robert Lauriston Dec 4, 2006 09:34 PM

          There's a fireplace. Food's pretty good, much better than the usual pub standard.

      2. p
        PateBriseej Dec 4, 2006 08:10 PM

        So where did you end up?


        1. j
          jonnypea Dec 3, 2006 06:50 PM

          have you ever tried Giovanni's (on Shattuck) in
          downtown Berkeley? They've a variety of options
          on their menu and has some reasonable prices.
          Likely they can handle a table of eight without

          1 Reply
          1. re: jonnypea
            Robert Lauriston Dec 4, 2006 03:49 PM

            I think Giovanni's enjoys a lack of repeat business, which makes it easier for them to handle larger groups.

          2. oakjoan Dec 3, 2006 05:46 PM

            Ooh, Luka's! I was thinking of only Berkeley/Albany places. Forgot that we could go back towards OUR home (they mostly live in the South Bay). Cafe Rouge is also a good idea.

            Not too expensive is probably $20/25 per person for everything except alky drinks (which most don't do anyway).

            Never heard of Somerset, but then I don't get out much ;+)

            1. Morton the Mousse Dec 3, 2006 05:23 PM

              Cafe Rouge comes to mind. They always have a few approachable dishes: rotisserie chicken, hamburger (available by request). As long as you don't order the dry age steak, not too expensive.

              Also consider Luka's Taproom and Zax Tavern.

              1. o
                Oakland Barb Dec 3, 2006 05:09 PM

                Somerset in Rockridge? Haven't eaten there and I know reviews are mixed, but the menu appeared to be reasonably priced and had some "conservative" options (last time I strolled by).
                Or Rivoili?
                What kind of "not too expensive"?

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