South Bay - Need Fun Group Dinner Place
My work group has a series of meetings next week which will be capped off with a group dinner. I am the agenda-master to whom falls the duty of selecting the dinner place for this team-builder. Looking for a unique place, with good food for 15 people. Had thought about Menara in SJ for the group Morrocan, hand-eating, belly dancing experience. Unfortunately, the reviews are not-so-good. Looking for a place that could be anywhere bwtween San Jose and Palo Alto.
I think I see what you mean about a "fun" place with good food. Based on a lot of experience dining in that region I keep a list of restaurants that have been very good, unique, or good values. I took a look at it and of the 50 or so listed, this one stood out, based on many meals there:
Afghani House, Sunnyvale (1103 East El Camino Real, near Santa Clara border, 408-248-5088).
The most elegant of three related Afghani restaurants on the Peninsula. (And largest: Seats up to 155, I was told.) Opened about 1995. Very good for people who like skewers of lean well-marinated meats grilled and served with pilafs; many other things including turnover- and dumpling-type appetizers, garlicky stir-fries, vegetarian specialties. Kind of classy set-up good for entertaining. Try it for lunch if you want a test.
Of course with a group that big, you'll be sure to book in advance -- but again Afghani House is large enough to easily handle such groups.
You may want to check out Cascal (spanish) in Mountain View. It's a fun place with live music on weekends. I also think that Menara is not that bad. A fondue place might also be fun. There's one in Saratoga and one in SJ. Or,you could go to Paragon and then walk to The Tech for an Imax movie afterwards.
la fondue in saratoga is usually booked on weekends... melting pot in downtown sj is fun, but it's a chain... and some folks don't like to go out for fondue.. but i don' tknow how to make fondue and i actually enjoy melting pot. if it's too expensive, then the next best thing is to just go for dessert.
i do enjoy cascal. since it's tapas, the sharing of the food would make for a fun evening. but hopefully people are willing to share. also, with that many people, you may want to preselect the tapas that you are going to order so that it doesn't become chaotic the night of. they also have large plates too, if people didn't want to share...
in palo alto and san jose there's hukilua which is a sit-down hawaiian restaurant. the san jose one has a room in teh back where a band plays. i personally like the palo alto one better. i like their hukilau chicken, their ahi tuna oke. they also have octopus poke i think... they also have live bands that play on weekends... check the calendar to see who is playing. if it's a popular band, they will not take reservations.
i like nola in palo alto for drinks and appetizers. it has a great ambiance, but the food is really not so good in my opinion. i just go to hang out and have drinks, appetizers, desserts... simple stuff....
and finally, if you want to go to south fremont, there's a place called city beach. they havea restaurant and bar indoors, typical bar fare. the selling point of this place is that they offer bocce ball, rock climbing, badminton, volleyball, virtual bowling, etc. i believe you can rent the place out and companyies have had events there. even if you just wanted to go with renting it out, i'm sure you could have fun.... =)
Are you looking mostly for food or are you searching for a fun experience? I'll leave purely food-based recommendations for others; if you want a "fun" team building type of experience, here are a few ideas:
Campo di Bocce in Los Gatos has passable food, is really fun and is well set up for groups.
Paragon in downtown San Jose has better food and outdoor (free) bocce courts, although you couldn't reserve the courts the last time I checked.
Emile's in San Jose has team cooking classes + dinner: haven't been in years or tried it since the new owners/chefs took over, though
A friend of mine recently got dragged to a work iron-chef type dinner at Sur La Table that she said was good - I'm thinking of doing this the next time I get stuck planning a work dinner...http://www.partiesthatcook.com/
I personally didn't think Menara's food was all that bad (love the B'stilla) for what it is (birthday party place with bellydancers pulling people out to "dance").