Meeting the parents in SM/Burlingame
I am getting married at the end of the month, and I am setting up a dinner where both families are meeting for the first time. I live in the city and work in San Mateo, but rarely eat down on the peninsula. I am looking for a nice restaurant (mid-range to pricey) that isn't too loud but at the same time isn't overly stuffy (we can be a bit boisterous). I am not opposed to semi-private or private dining rooms.
Places that I like in the city:
You might want to try Archipelago on Howard in downtown Burlingame. I've only been there once, and that was just for drinks. The food looked good, and a friend who has eaten there said it was pretty good. It's Asian fusion. It's also kind of dark in there, but the decor is nice. Also in downtown Burlingame is Nectar Wine Lounge, but that place can get pretty loud.
Viogner is a default-fancy place. Quiet, hushed atmosphere, pedestrian food. A bit stuffy, and you'll feel cheated.
After a poor meal (just "blah", nothing much else to say) at PA Straights, all Straights are dead to me.
I imagine Gator's gets loud, and it's a pretty small room.
I've only driven past Spiedo, but it looks ok. Why not try it for lunch?
No, seriously, if this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, why not splurge on the extra 20 minutes of driving, and go someplace you know you like, in the city?
Il Fornaio or Cafe Scala in Burlingame might work; both are Italian food but Cafe Scala is smaller/more intimate.
In San Mateo, either Spiedo (Italian again) or Central Park Bistro, both on 4th Ave. I haven't been to Cappelinis in a long time but that is another option. I ate at Gator's Neo Soul Cafe (on South B Street) last week for the first time and it was excellent.
re: Robert Lauriston
Steelhead is good, but doesn't meet the "isn't too loud" criterion in my experience. Straits Cafe in Burlingame could work; it's where we took my Dad when he was visiting from out of town and we needed a dinner convenient to the airport. I don't eat out too much in this area so I am afraid I can't be of much further help.
There are some upscale Chinese (Cantonese) restaurants nearby like The Kitchen or Chef Wai. You can do set menus with different price levels.
If you think the group would like sushi, then Sakae Sushi in Burlingame might be an option. The place is small and interior casual, but the fish can't be beat. Great sake list. Stuff flow in from Japan ranges from $12-25 for nigiri.