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Birthday Dinner Not Too Expensive - SF, Berk., Oak.

I'm taking my sister out to dinner for her birthday and want someplace nice but not hugely expensive. We've been to Nopa a few times and SPQR (didn't like it much last time), A-16, Incanto, etc., that place in Oakland on Grand (up near Ace Hardware), Flora, and a bunch of others I can't recall off the cuff.

Am looking for something new.

All suggestions welcomed..

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  1. Recent visit to Digs Bistro very pleasant,

    Digs Bistro
    1453 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94702

    1. Marica in Oakland
      Eve in Berkeley

      1. Just went to Hibiscus, which just opened recently, so I guess it's new.

        Great food- large portions for the price. Carribean food by the chef from the Front Porch in SF (?). Great fish escaveche, fried chicken, pepperpot stew, grits with spicy crab. Fried plantains with garlic butter. Yum. Had a nice cocktail. Festive upscale atmosphere. I was there for a birthday dinner- might be nice for yours...

          1. Boot and Shoe Service? (No reservations, though, and only if you like Pizzaiolo.)

            Pican is great, but might be over your budget.


            Cesar on Piedmont is switching over to a Pan-Latin menu next week, so that would be new too (though Bocanova is already doing that style of food very well).

            1. Wood Tavern? Not new, but a great place for a birthday. Pican is a good suggestion. I went to the new Bocanova the other night (in Jack London Square) and it was pretty good, though the menu seems a little hit or miss (the housemade tortillas were great, I didn't like the lamb stew, the chocolate bread pudding was a good end).

              5 Replies
              1. re: JasmineG

                I was disappointed by Bocanova at lunch a couple of weeks back. A couple of dishes (sliders and bunny) were fine, but the quinoa salad was gross. Shrimp in it was weirdly slimy and the flavor was a bit off. Worst was the service. Came in to check it out in order to book a party of 50. Asked waiter to have a manager check in with me to discuss my dinner. Waiter said yes, but manager never showed. Also let him know our time was limited because I had to get back to work. 2/3 of the way in I asked (again) to see a manager. Waiter apologized and said he'd send him/her. Manager never showed. Asked again at the door upon leaving. Door said he'd get manager right away. I explained that we had to leave and left my contact information. Well over a week later I received a call about my "event in March." Only problem (other than the tardiness) is that I never gave them the date, and the event is in February. Long story short, my impression is that Bocanova isn't interested in getting my business.

                1. re: lexdevil

                  Yeah, there have been a lot of complaints about the service at Bocanova on this board and elsewhere, though it was fine the one night I went.

                  It's inexplicable, though, why the manager would be so discourteous and apathetic when you were trying to give them your business. Pretty shoddy.

                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    I agree that you'd think they'd want the business, but from lexdevil's description it is not at all clear that it was the manager's doing: quite possible that the server never told the manager while he was there, and then left a vague note, or said to him a week later, 'oh yeah, this guy was in earlier who was interested in booking something in March'. I think it would be worth a note or call to the restaurant just to be sure that this wasn't just one apathetic server that cost them a lot of business (not that I'd necessarily want to go there after that, but just to be sure the manager is aware if s/he doesn't read this board).

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      More than one person fell down on the job. I talked to the waiter twice and I left the message (and my business card) with the maitre d'. The maitre d' clearly passed on the business card, but the call back came at least a week later. I recognize that it would be kind to tell them how they lost my business. At the same time, I just don't have time to invest in saving them from their own ineptitude. If I had been thrilled by their food, I might have spent the time. As it is, I'm not sure I give a hoot about whether they succeed or fail.

                  2. re: lexdevil

                    I had a really great waitress while I was there, but the two people at the host stand were pretty off. It might just be new restaurant service issues. Some of the dishes are up and down -- the tortillas and scallops were great, the lamb stew less so, and I didn't like the plaintains, but it has promise. Either way, though, up and down service isn't a great idea for a birthday dinner.

                2. If you haven't been, I'd take her to La Ciccia.