Casa Orinda - i keep hearing both sides, any recent reports?
special dinner with out of town relatives, who would prefer something basic and more traditional like steak and potatoes than confit, vegetables, and sauces that they never heard of (not that these are a bad thing).
re: Robert Lauriston
Went to Casa Orinda a year ago (I have been going since the 70's) with a party of 12.
We all ordered assorted entrees...we all were dissapointed,we all said never again.
The fried chicken is not worth crossing the street for, let alone a long drive.
Service was also below par.
The bartenders and the cocktails were very good.
I have also been going there occasionally for years, always in exactly the sort of situation you are describing, a place to take older relatives in town from the Midwest. I don't think it has gone downhill, but then I never found it very appealing. It is the sort of meat-and-potatoes place my parents go to, and which has pretty much disappeared out here. I always have a hard time finding anything to order (I have never considered the fried chicken), but our flat-lander guests always enjoy the place. The waitress won't look at you quizzically if you order drinks like a Rob Roy or a Sidecar, which people of a certain age apparently still enjoy.
I guess it's been about twenty years that I've been going to Casa Orinda and I've found the food always consistent and tasty for what it is. I usually order the green salad with blue cheese dressing and the fried chicken. The salad is chilled romaine with carrots and beets and the dressing--simple and how I like it. The chicken is delicious and so is the biscuit and mashed potoes and gravy. There have terrific french fries--thin and not greasy. Someone always seems to get the veal and they rave about that. Service had always been pretty good and so are the cocktails. Seems like we tend to go to Casa when we have older folks in our party. I never mind because I think it's a great spot every now and then.
I went there last year and it was the same as the year before. The fried chicken and biscuits are worth the trip but that's about all. Forget the salad and anything else the place offers. If you want fried chicken that tastes good, this is the place to go.
We went there a couple of months ago and made the decision to not go there again. Chicken Parmesean - frozen deep fried chicken "mystery meat" patty covered with too much canned tasteless sauce and boring pastelike cheese. The veggies were over cooked. The pasta bland. The Fried Chicken was nothing to write home about. My 12 year old loved it because it was greasy and "not spicy at all, dad". I think that about sums it up.
You can drive 15 minutes into Oakland and get far better food for a fraction of the price.
BTW, the everyone is right on with the cocktails - stiff and tasty. I love the fact that "stir" and not shake. Great bar to get a quick drink before a movie at the Orinda Theater across the street.