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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).

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  1. I haven't seen any reports that suggest there's been any change in the food.

    I think the negative reports are mostly from people who didn't think the fried chicken was worth the drive.

    3 Replies
    1. 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.

      1. re: Mission

        Do you think it has gone downhill, or has your taste changed?

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Agreed. Skip the famous fried chicken. Big disapoinment.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. Link:

              Casa Orinda
              20 Bryant Way, Orinda, CA 94563

              1 Reply
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                "cheesy oysters" is right on, we were there on father's day, and I got chicken and wife had veal...they actually do kids plates of prime rib, which my youngest daughter liked.


              2. We were in Orinda so gave the place a try. At 6:30 the hostess was telling people without reservations that they could come back in an hour. "Everybody in Orinda wants to eat at 6:15."

                Salad from the daily specials menu was good: beets (not canned), mixed greens, frisee, hazelnuts, blue cheese, pickled red onions, the only old-school touch was a few garbanzos. No bargain at $10. I didn't taste my companion's shrimp cocktail ($9.50) but it was a generous serving. Good quality bread.

                Fried chicken ($17.75) was very good. Large half chicken in four pieces, crisp light breading, juicy meat. Sauteed vegetables side was pretty good, broccoli and carrots at least seemed fresh, corn, onions. Biscuit was light with a crunchy crust. Mashed potatoes were super-pureed, good flavor but not my favorite style. Gravy in a boat on the side seemed OK, I'm not really a fan of that stuff. Good value given the quality and portion size. If I were making a special trip for fried chicken I'd go to Barbers Q in Napa.

                Prime rib ($29.50) from the daily specials was very good. Properly medium rare as ordered. Nice horseradish sauce, boat of jus on the side, good baked potato, same vegetables. Good value given the price of prime rib.

                Ordered a few wines by the glass, the reds tasted like they'd been open too long, probably a better idea to get a bottle or bring one (corkage $15).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Thanks for the report, Robert. I appreciate a report that judges a restaurant on how well it does what it's trying to do, rather than stacking it up against different types/styles of restaurants.

                2. I think the place will be perfect for your guests. I know people (whom I do not dine with) who order the fried chicken religiously (basically why I don't dine with them) and have been for decades. Very au courant for the 80's. Not a bad thing if that's your taste. The decor lots of wood paneling with the aromas of years of, uh, layering.

                  1. We've gone several times to Casa Orinda as it's a fav with our friends. Fried chicken plate is massive but all 4 pieces are cooked together, so breast meat always comes out a trifle overdone. Nice and crispy but a bit salty, and the gravy on the side is WAY oversalted. You can order all dark if you like.

                    The other entrees are on the level of De La Torres/Pleasanton. Traditional, but not as good as others we've tried which are listed below.

                    CO advertises prime rib but frankly we think the prime rib at Townhouse Bar & Grill/Emeryville is superior, in fact Townhouse is superior (for dinner, not the lunch menu) all the way around. Note that the prime rib is ONLY served at Townhouse Wed-Sat, and they only make 2 small-end roasts - when they run out, that's it. Sub the potato au gratin for mashed, they make a great au gratin version.

                    Also good at Townhouse: grilled jalapeno prawn starter, really spicy! The crab-artichoke dip is amazingly good. The Thai beef salad (main dish salad) has a superb lime-cilantro dressing that really rocks.

                    If you prefer Contra Costa, I would go to Duck Club @Lafayette Park Hotel. Far superior to Casa Orinda, with a traditional menu that is much better executed with a lot of creative touches that will surprise you. Be sure to ask about chile-heat, sometimes their soups are surprisingly spicy (which we like, but not everyone does). Lovely quiet DR, excellent service, parking underneath the hotel. Not a lot of spaces, though, so sometimes it fills up and you have to park on the street.

                    We rate Duck Club as highly as we rate Artisan Bistro, which we consider THE BEST CA bistro in the East Bay, bar none.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: tre2012

                      My breast piece was juicy. It was much bigger than the other pieces, I think maybe that evened out the cooking.

                      1. re: wolfe

                        Of course, but some places trim off the ribs and other bones and/or cut the breast in two pieces.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Yes, but even if the fried chicken comes out well - the fact remains, the other food at Casa Orinda is pretty ordinary. The sweetbreads are good, but they're always prepared the same way. Desserts are ordinary, and we've been rushed out of there by waitstaff who want to go home early, something I don't appreciate at CO's price point.

                          There are better traditional restaurants around than Casa Orinda, if you want something other than creamed sweetbreads and fried chicken.