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Proposing to GF in Berkeley/East Bay?

I am proposing to my girlfriend on Easter weekend, and would LOVE suggestions for a fun dinner spot afterwards. Both our families will be in town that weekend, and I was thinking it would be great to have a big bash after I pop the question (.....since she WILL say yes.....right?!?).

I was originally looking for something with a view in the city, like Sutro's, Epic, Waterbar etc. The constraint is that my brother's young children need to go to bed early, so I'm hoping to keep the venue close to his home in Berkeley/Albany.

We were looking at some of the restaurants on Fourth Street in Berkeley (e.g. Eccolo)...and also considered Skates on the Bay, at the Berkeley marina.

Are there any obvious contenders that come to mind? Or maybe something further south in Oakland or Alameda that wouldn't be too much of a drive in view of the kids' early bedtime?

Thanks so much for any suggestions!!!

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  1. Excellent news! First, how many people do you think will be there, and what day of the week is it? If it's for Saturday night, all of these places will be open, but Sunday will be a little tougher. Eccolo has great food, and would be a good location, because they have a nice space for a big crowd, but it's expensive. I have not had good food at Skates, but the view is nice. I'm not sure if it's too far of a drive, but A Cote on Rockridge has nice semi private spaces on the back (covered) patio, and it's a really romantic restaurant. It doesn't open until 6, though. Sea Salt has good food and is good for a crowd if you can get the big table, or some tables in the side room, and it opens early. Good luck!

    1. It depends a lot on what your priorities and constraints are. Great food? View? It doesn't sound like you necessarily need a private room - how big is your party? Price point?

      I would not recommend anyone go to Skates. There are a few decent things on the menu but for the most part I find it to be pretty mediocre. I had a terrible dinner there a few months ago and vowed to never return.

      Jordan's at the Claremont might be something to look at. It's been a few years for me but I remember the food being pretty good and not particularly exotic (which could be an asset for a big group if you have picky eaters). It has beautiful views of the bay and SF skyline, although I would call to confirm they can offer you a big table with a view. The price point is high though and the food while fine is not as good as the food at other east bay places in that price range.

      Sea Salt and A Cote both have good food (IMO A Cote is better). I don't know that I've ever seen little kids at A Cote though - doesn't really have the feel of a family place, although maybe that doesn't matter if you get a private space. Eccolo also has wonderful food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Truffle Dog

        I don't really have any recommendations, but I agree with Truffle Dog. I wouldn't go to Skates on the Bay, especially for something as significant as a marriage proposal!

        The view is great at their restaurant, but everything else is pretty mediocre.

        Good luck!!!

      2. Thanks for the replies! There will be 14 people in our group, and Friday is the big day. View would be great, but food is the priority with this crowd :-D

        Really wanted to go to Sutro's Cliff House initially, but it just doesn't seem to be in the cards given the kids' early curfew.

        I had heard Skates was pretty mediocre...so probably ruling that out despite the nice view. For now, I've tentatively reserved the back room at Eccolo but will check out Sea Salt and A Cote as well.

        Thanks again for the tips - much appreciated!!!

        4 Replies
        1. re: erik h

          Pizzaiolo's back room might work as well, if you can reserve it this late.

          Good luck!

          1. re: erik h

            If food is the priority, I think you'd want to scratch the cliff house off the list. Or anyplace with a view. Waterbar has meh reviews. Can't get both.

            One of the best meals I've had was the front family style table at Cesar Peidmont. The food keeps coming, no fussy ordering or waiting, big benches so folks can come and go. it's a little loud but fun. They threw in a round of cocktails and a couple bottles of wine with the prix fixe, and made some special veggie dishes for us. I think the table is listed as capacity 10 though, and the price seemed reasonable in view of what I got, but wouldn't be considered cheap by anyone. But that's if food is your first priority, not price or view or anything.

            All the other usual characters are represented by others... is 900 Grayson open in the evenings? Maybe you could get a special menu on the rear patio.

            1. re: bbulkow

              Grayson isn't open in the evening, though they've been talking about it for a while. I agree that Cesar Piedmont is a good place to go with a group, but it's not great for kids, since that table is hard to get in and out of, and it's right in the front of the restaurant, so it can get really busy and hard to navigate. I've seen kids at A Cote (and eaten there with one) early in the evening, but I agree that it's best to get one of the areas in the back patio if you're going to go there.

              1. re: bbulkow

                For your own info and not the OP, in January George Morrone of Aqua and Fifth Floor took over the management of the kitchen of Sutro's at the Cliff House

                Sounds like from Michael Bauer's review, (which was mostly positive) that the tourists could bring down Morrone's best efforts ... or perhaps the clueless management which may be pushing the kitchen to turn out those perceived tourist pleasers rather than letting the chef have full reign and start pulling in locals. Perhaps they should rev up their publicity machine to get the word out to locals and stay out of the kitchen ... it's not like the other two restaurants in the Cliff House are worth going to.

                http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

            2. Oliveto is also excellent and has a private room that would probably be a good fit for your group.

              1. Check out Pizzaiola. We had our wedding dinner there for 18 people. It was great and for $40 hed included a fabuloous cake which they baked. We had lots of kids (youngest 5 and 7 years old) and they had a great time. The "babies" ordered squid pizza. For the meal for groups they just keep bringing appetizers, pasta, entrees and pizza. I can't say enough about the food and the service. It was also wonderful to sit around the long table with all our loved ones and know everyone loved the food and drink. We so loved our wedding dinner there, we made a donation to the local food bank in the name of the staff of the place.

                I am a big fan of Eccolo. BUT..it will run you more and I think it is less kid friendly overall.

                wHILE i AM A FAN OF eCCOLO, YOU WILL PROBABLY END UP SPENDING MORE.

                1. I've had nice meals with big groups at Cafe Rouge on 4th Street. They have a varied menu with something for everyone and a great bar and wine list.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jallenby

                    I don't think Cafe Rouge is particularly good for small children. And it's one of the loudest restaurants I've ever eaten in, even upstairs. It's only good for a group if you don't actually want to talk to anyone except the person sitting next to you (which in my mind defeats the whole purpose of going out as a group).

                  2. Congratulations and best wishes!

                    My husband proposed to me over a dinner he made himself- can' t remember the meal except that it was reeeaally garlic-y.

                    But we announced our engagement to our parents at Rivoli in Berkeley which was perfect. Food is consistently good and atmosphere is comfortable and elegant. And the younger ones in your group will love the wildlife outside. Ask to be seated near the rear window outside.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: suebe

                      LINK

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                      Rivoli Restaurant
                      1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707