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Feb 23, 2008 03:25 PM

South Bay Unstuffy but Special Occasion Place

We are going to celebrate an anniversary next week, yet had to cancel plans to go away to the Monterey area that included a return visit to Passionfish in Pacific Grove. Would really like to find some place in the South Bay that approximates that dinner experience, with good food, great wine at reasonable prices, and charming yet not fussy waitstaff and overall atmosphere. Any suggestions?

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  1. I was going to suggest Alexander's in Cupertino. It seems special occasion but not fussy as noted by jrhsfch in this link.
    Then there was the problem with what is a reasonable price. Well if nothing else the wine list is fun to read.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe

      Another vote for Alexander's. Great service and food. I thought it was well worth the expense (as opposed to the Dining Room at the Ritz, but that's another thread).

    2. Downtown San Jose possibilities:
      71 Saint Peter

      1. Hate to be a wet blanket, but we didn't enjoy Alexander Steakhouse that much. The food was good, but not spectacular for its cost, imo. What really bothered us was the service: yes, it was friendly, but they really overdid the upselling. At least three different waitstaff tried to persuade us to get the (very expensive) meat or seafood specials. I do admit, though, that upselling is one of my biggest peeves when dining out! (Note: only went there once, sometime last year.)

        For a similar cost but better service (in my experience), how about Parcel 104? Fresh ingredients, and the menu changes with seasons.

        Too bad Brigitte's in Santa Clara is closed. Great French bistro, that.

        Parcel 104
        2700 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054

        2 Replies
        1. re: sairuh

          The service issue at Alexander's probably depends on who you get as a waiter. When I went we experienced no upselling and I thought the service was among the best I have ever had. I wish I could remember the name of the waiter I had so I could recommend him.

          On the other hand, I had a terrible experience at Brigitte's. The food and service were not good. Maybe I'm your evil twin!

          1. re: sairuh

            We had a horrible meal at Alexander's, which I reported in detail in an earlier thread. In short: the steak was incinerated, the upselling was over-the-top (they even brought and opened another bottled water w/o asking us) and the prices outrageous for the quality of the food.

            I miss Brigitte's, too. Parcel 104 is okay, but not exciting. I'll only go there for business meals. Tanglewood's food is expensive and uneven, but a nice atmosphere.

            What's Passionfish like?

          2. I'm not familiar with Passionfish, but based on your requirements I think Zitune in Los Altos would be spot on for this. It's outstanding Cal/Moroccan with a Moroccan chef who used to work at Gary Danko. It keeps getting better and better: they have now added a new page of seasonal specials and a fixed price tasting menu. I can't think of a better restaurant in the South Bay in its price range (our most recent meal was $60 each for appetizer, entree, and a glass of wine, including tax and tip).


            Restaurant Zitune
            325 Main St, Los Altos, CA 94022

            1. I can't think of a Passionfish twin for the South Bay, but two places--both in Los Gatos--on my special occasion list:

              Restaurant James Randall

              Dio Deka

              Anyone been to either recently??

              2 Replies
              1. re: Carb Lover

                We dined at Dio Deka soon after Christmas and had a nice time. We had the lamb kabobs as appetizer, the branzino & lamb chops as entrees. The first two items were delicious. However, their signature lamb chops was a disappointment. I had asked it to be prepared to the Chef's suggestion. It was thick, meaty but a bit dry. I had previously had it at Evvia a couple of years ago & that was perfection. Perfectly grilled on the outside, juicy & pink on the inside. I was mainly disappointed probably because it was on the cover of San Francisco Magazine's as one of the Top Foods of 2007 (or 2006?). Considering how expensive the entrees are (40+ for the lamb), there is no room for an off night.

                1. re: ceekskat

                  I don't find Dio Deka's prices reasonable especially regarding the quality. The vaunted lamb chops tasted all of crust and none of lamb - a difficult trick to pull off but not one I care to duplicate, especially at their prices. Their vegetable dishes and sides were great though. Dio Deka is also hugely noisy, which is not what I'm looking for on an anniversary night out, but I don't know what Passionfish is like. Overall, Evvia in Palo Alto is a much better bet for this type of Cal/Greek cuisine and ambiance.

                  I've never been to James Randall but it's on our list to try.