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The third time isn't the charm ... need help with a muy important meal

Yep .... trip interuptus again. Won't leave for about 10 days. The husband is flying out this week. I'm driving to Guatemala with an uncle.

Here's the deal, I need to make nice with the uncle's wife so she feels I'm her friend and can trust me with her husband for seven days on the road.

It is an absurd situation, but promising a nice lunch or dinner has her feeling warm and cozy.

The woman is an international traveler and loves good food ... she has the soul of a chowhound ... god bless her. She knows good food.

Right now I'm thinking Chez Panisse or my recent find Cafe Citti (for a different reason). Maybe Brix but that is a bit far out.

Location needs to be in Berkeley thru Pinole or Marin.

Help my addled brain here. NO ... NO ... dives. This needs to be a nice restaurant with good food. A chowhound nice restaurant, not the latest and greatest. There MIGHT be limitations. Commis or Eve might be too much ... but maybe not. I need to think more.


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  1. Wood Tavern is in Oakland, but other than that it might fit the bill. It's a little noisy inside, but the food is good and the service is gracious, and they have good lunches and dinners. Not as upscale as CP, but classy.

    12 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      Nope. Wouldn't suit her

      Thanks. I may not get back immediately to everyone as I had my phone turned off and my wireless isn't working, but I will get back

      I don't want to say why Wood Tavern wouldn't work because I know it might suppress suggestions that would

      Keep em coming so I can pick and choose

      ohhhh ... that joint on College I just ate with the great mussels and prix fixe ... now that might be something. Sorry, can't think of the name right now ... but that just took Commis and Eve out of the equation.

      Need a list to pick and choose and give her some options for what she might like.

      1. re: rworange

        Who could have thought I would ever get to use this permalink.
        Check current Rivoli menu.

        1. re: wolfe

          Yeah ... Rivoli is on the list now. Thanks. Anyone been there since it remodeled?

          Which reminds of of the "L:" word where I can't report since I know the staff. That or maybe Sea Salt or Fonda ... though maybe not.

          1. re: rworange

            Corso? I would choose that over Rivoli . .. not that Rivoli isn't great but I think Corso is better. . I dream about their risotto with ragu.

            Table 11 at Commis. .. it's the one that is a two top that is in one of the "cubbies" of the storefront. . .have taken a VIP and they LOVED it. I managed to get that table by coming at opening and requesting it.

            Good luck!

            1. re: pastryqueen

              I don't know....apart from the fact that I wasn't that crazy about the food at Commis, I am not sure the atmosphere sets the right tone. rwo, you don't want her to think you are very modern, do you? I'd go for something more traditional but with great food myself. That said, if I were to go back to Commis, the table pastryqueen describes is definitely the one I'd want to grab.

        2. re: rworange

          Didn't the place on College start with an M?

          1. re: sydthekyd

            Marica. I haven't been, though, so I can't comment.

            I think Rivoli or Lalime's. After that, maybe Sea Salt, but not Fonda. Maybe Digs Bistro or Liaison Bistro. I liked Gather but one of my dining companions thought it was weird.

            Is Post Meridian still around?

            1. re: Glencora

              I think you've got it, Glencora: Marica, Rivoli, Lalime's and Digs Bistro I think would all fit the bill. And JasmineG's suggestion of A Cote is good as well.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Sorry for taking so long to reply but things continue to be crazy.

                That list is exactly on spot and Marica is exactly right for this. Thanks all.

                1. re: rworange

                  Marica was absolutely perfect. The uncle's wife was blown away. This even worked well with an unexpected addition of a 5 year old granddaughter who loved the presentation of many dishes and said a lot of 'ooohhhs'. She went crazy for the sobet in the martini glass. She polished off a lot of the ice cream and wanted to take the glass home ... I sort of feel guilty. I see a future of cosmos and fruity martinis for her when she reaches drinking age due to this first positive encounter with a martini glass ... sigh ... I'm buying her a glass tommorrow .. .here's the dinner report

          2. re: rworange

            Hmm, A Cote is on College and has the best mussels I've had in the area, but no prix fixe. Cafe Rouge? Too bad that Eccolo is gone, it sounds like it may have been the right kind of thing.

            1. re: rworange

              A Cote has great mussels but I'm not sure about prix fixe.

              For elegantish atmosphere, Rivoli, Flora, upstairs at Oliveto, Lalime's, Ajanta.

              I didn't notice any difference in the back room at Rivoli. The front room is different but it's not as nice.

          3. Berkeley, non-divey...

            Riva Cucina?

            In Marin, maybe Murray Circle? Le Garage?

            1. I may be way off here...but one of my favorite places is Casa Orinda. In particular during winter when I can sit in the room with the huge copper fire place. The fried chicken may not be what it used to be but still good and menu large enough menu to be festive. Love all the chicken braises actually. hope this helps. safe trip!

              1. It's odd that I'm even responding because I know so few restaurants in the East Bay. My suggestion is Pizzaiolo because it is warm and friendly - a place you would go with friends and family but not a business partner. I'd stay away from the business dinner type places.

                1. I agree with Brix and it's location being a little far out but I'm not certain I would take someone with such a knowledge or appreciation for food there, just based on my experiences there. We were there in December and sadly the best thing we ate were the pickled beets with blue cheese. The chicken with spinach and the shrimp salad sandwich were so bland however the duck sausage pizza was much better but still not great. Our lunch at Chez Panisse was much better. Roasted squid with chickpeas,white beans, spinach and tomato with cumin flatbread and the Dungeness crab salad with frisee were excellent.

                  1. You seem to be looking for a safe choice which to me suggests you are right to think Chez Panisse.

                    Many years ago when IBM was the dominant computer company there was a saying "Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM". I don't see how you could get fired for taking someone who loves good food to Chez Panisse.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: charliemyboy

                      Yeah, that's an excellent point. It might be the time to go with something reliable.

                      1. re: charliemyboy

                        Well stated, charliemyboy!
                        Given the situation, I agree that the best choice of eateries is the IBM equivalent.

                      2. Camino? Long trestle tables might be an issue, but the food is great. Not too far from Berkeley...

                        Murray Circle at Cavallo Point is pretty good and very relaxed, but whole different price scale.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: foodielass

                          I went to Rivoli a few weeks ago and ws underwhelmed. Overall, it just wasn't as good as it used to be. I ordered scallops which tasted fine, but were not seared. My husband's pot roast was overcooked and the cheese plate for dessert was sad. Service was very sporadic as well.

                          1. re: calalilly

                            Oh as for a restaurant suggestion, how about Five? I went there about a month and a half ago and was pleasantly surprised. Excellent food with upscale ambiance.