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Best expense account dinner in Berkeley/Oakland?

rkchls Aug 27, 2007 12:51 PM

A colleague and I have one night (a Tuesday) in Berkeley for a business trip, and are looking for the best dining experience available nearby. (We could take the BART into SF, but have very early meetings the next day.) I dined at Oliveto's last year and enjoyed it. I would consider eating there again, but am open to something new. Chez Panisse is also an option, although it makes me nervous that no choices are available. Are there any other great options in Berkeley/Oakland area? We like French, Italian, Seafood, Continental & California cuisine. (We love seared Foie Gras if that is available somewhere.) We can go as high as $300 for 2 with wine. TIA!

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: rkchls Aug 27, 2007 01:06 PM

    Upstairs at Chez Panisse the menu is a la carte.


    1. Morton the Mousse RE: rkchls Aug 27, 2007 01:26 PM

      Not a lot of seared foie in the East Bay. You can get it at Lalimes, though the rest of your meal will be a toss up.

      Chez and Oliveto are the two best upscale restaurants in town. Berkeley and Oakland have tons of "mid-priced" restaurants, but not too much in the high end category (when we want to splurge, we usually go to SF). If you don't like the fixed menu concept at Chez, eat upstairs.

      1. JasmineG RE: rkchls Aug 27, 2007 02:53 PM

        The menu downstairs at Chez Panisse for the week gets posted in advance, so you could always make reservations for that Tuesday night and then check out the menu and cancel if it's not to your liking, or you could just make reservations at the Cafe.

        1. z
          zunzie RE: rkchls Aug 27, 2007 03:57 PM

          Citron might not be a bad option, if you don't do Chez Panisse.

          3 Replies
          1. re: zunzie
            bbulkow RE: zunzie Aug 28, 2007 05:49 AM

            Citron is pricy, but the food is nothing special. You can get better food at dozens of places in the east bay (say, a few doors down at A Cote).

            1. re: bbulkow
              SLRossi RE: bbulkow Aug 28, 2007 12:01 PM

              same chef

              1. re: SLRossi
                Robert Lauriston RE: SLRossi Aug 28, 2007 12:57 PM

                Citron's chef-owner Chrisopher Rossi sold his interest in A Cote in 2005. The menus aren't similar.


          2. Debbie M RE: rkchls Aug 27, 2007 04:05 PM

            Bay Wolfe on Piedmont Ave.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Debbie M
              sfeater RE: Debbie M Aug 27, 2007 04:25 PM

              Bay Wolfe gets mixed reviews. You may want to read some reports on it to see if it sounds like a good fit for you.

              1. re: Debbie M
                Robert Lauriston RE: Debbie M Aug 27, 2007 05:36 PM

                I had a good dinner at Bay Wolf recently, but it wasn't in the same league with Chez Panisse and Olvieto. The wine list was particularly disappointing, as was the lack of a cheese course given the general Frenchiness of the menu.

                1. re: Debbie M
                  JasmineG RE: Debbie M Aug 28, 2007 12:20 AM

                  If I was on Piedmont Avenue for dinner and money wasn't an object, there are still at least four places that I'd go to before Bay Wolf, and they all cost a lot less.

                  1. re: JasmineG
                    Stephanie Wong RE: JasmineG Aug 28, 2007 10:45 AM

                    So, which ones are they? Please share!

                    1. re: Stephanie Wong
                      JasmineG RE: Stephanie Wong Aug 28, 2007 11:02 AM

                      Dopo, Cesar, Jojo, Gregoire, probably in that order (though, depending on what my mood is, the first two could be easily switched).

                      1. re: JasmineG
                        Robert Lauriston RE: JasmineG Aug 28, 2007 11:06 AM

                        Cesar and Dopo are my first choices on Piedmont too.

                        Though I often drive by Pizzaiolo on the way to see how bad the wait is.

                        1. re: JasmineG
                          susancinsf RE: JasmineG Aug 28, 2007 12:26 PM

                          I would definitely choose Jojo or Cesar over Bay Wolf, and probably the other two as well.

                          Bar C├ęsar
                          4039 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                          3859 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                          1. re: susancinsf
                            Debbie M RE: susancinsf Aug 28, 2007 01:42 PM

                            Wow. Granted, it's been a year since I was last there, but Bay Wolf seemed on form back then. Didn't realize they had fallen so far in some people's estimation.

                            1. re: Debbie M
                              Robert Lauriston RE: Debbie M Aug 28, 2007 01:45 PM

                              Cesar opened only a year ago and Dopo has doubled in size.

                              Nothing against Bay Wolf, it's a good place.

                              1. re: Debbie M
                                knitoneone RE: Debbie M Aug 28, 2007 05:58 PM

                                I too would vote against Bay Wolf. Went there a few weeks ago for dinner and got lamb that was most definitely mutton---very gamey and tough. How about Bucci's in Emeryville---very nice ambience, really good Italian stuff.

                                1. re: knitoneone
                                  Robert Lauriston RE: knitoneone Aug 28, 2007 11:30 PM

                                  Bucci's friendly but hardly an expense account place.


                    2. singleguychef RE: rkchls Aug 28, 2007 10:24 AM

                      You might consider Wood Tavern on College Ave. just north of Rockridge and Oliveto's. It's a bit pricey but not high-end. It's new and very popular right now so it's hard to get a decent reservations, but if this isn't for a few weeks, you could probably get a reservations for Tuesday night.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: singleguychef
                        Robert Lauriston RE: singleguychef Aug 28, 2007 10:33 AM

                        Wood Tavern's definitely not an expense-account kind of place.


                        If you're not going high-end, I'd suggest Pizzaiolo, an unfancy, only-in-the-East-Bay place opened by a Chez Panisse alumnus. Actually you can run up a pretty stiff tab there if you order the right wines ... I think I've spent $300 for two, close to it anyway.

                      2. g
                        goodlight RE: rkchls Aug 28, 2007 06:08 PM

                        Chez Panisse also has a cafe if you are willing to try. I was about to suggest Oliveto's, but since you already tried it..

                        1. w
                          Waterboy RE: rkchls Aug 29, 2007 07:21 AM

                          Chez Panisse is often the best, most inventive chow around. I shouldn't worry about the no option approach, unless there are dietary restrictions.

                          The simplest dish can be a very peasant surprise. Had sliced fennel bulb there, unexpectedly stunning.

                          If you can reservations, go. Maybe you know, but calling exactly 30 days ahead, early, you might get in.

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