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Best expense account dinner in Berkeley/Oakland?

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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. Upstairs at Chez Panisse the menu is a la carte.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/323376
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42403...

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

          3 Replies
          1. re: zunzie

            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

              same chef

              1. re: SLRossi

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

                http://www.citronrestaurant.biz/dinne...
                http://www.acoterestaurant.com/menus/...

          2. Bay Wolfe on Piedmont Ave.
            http://www.baywolf.com/

            11 Replies
            1. re: Debbie M

              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

                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

                  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

                    So, which ones are they? Please share!

                    1. re: Stephanie Wong

                      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

                        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

                          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

                          Jojo
                          3859 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  Bucci's friendly but hardly an expense account place.

                                  http://www.buccis.com/dinnertuesday.html

                    2. 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

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

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/407896

                        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. 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. 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.