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Suggestions for Dinner with FUSSY parents in the East Bay for this Tuesday (someone help! PLEASE!)

MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 08:14 AM

Hi 'hounds,
My parents are in town for a few days, and we're planning a celebration dinner for 4 on Tuesday night in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, or thereabouts. If you know of the PERFECT place in the city we'd venture into SF.
What we need:
a non-threatening place with GREAT food. Entrees under $30. They don't care about food sourcing or wine (pass the diet coke), and they don't eat "ethnic" food (unless it's Mediterranean). I think they'd do better with a slightly bigger menu (rules out Corso or Rivoli), and they'll probably freak out if there are too many unfamiliar items. They like to complain and my father has the disturbing habit of flirting with female waitstaff. That said, I want them to be happy (especially so I don't have to hear about it for the next 5 years).
Also, I'm a vegetarian (or, as my father likes to point out, a pain in the you-know-where), and I'd like to find a place with more than one vegetarian option.

My husband and I really like Trattoria la Siciliana in Berkeley, but I want to give them some options. Chop Bar in Oakland? Angelina's Bistro in Alameda? Fellini in Berkeley is possible, but always seemed a little run-of-the-mill to me.

Thanks in advance.

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Rivoli Restaurant
1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 08:51 AM

    How about Wood Tavern?

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    Wood Tavern
    6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      MissVeg RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 7, 2010 08:58 AM

      Thanks, Robert. I thought about that, but it's not so veg friendly. Otherwise, it would be perfect. Maybe I could just send my husband there with my parents and I could take to my bed with a couple of martinis. I'd LOVE your opinion on what Italian might work for them.

      1. re: MissVeg
        Robert Lauriston RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 09:04 AM

        Fellini is certainly vegetarian-friendly, but would your parents be annoyed if they noticed that the place serves no red meat?

        Oliveto?

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        Oliveto Cafe
        5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

        1. re: MissVeg
          lexdevil RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 09:18 AM

          Rather than taking to your bed, have the Martinis at Wood Tavern (great cocktails there). In addition to the options I listed below, you could probably talk them into making the portobello sandwich from the lunch menu. Or ask them to make you an entree sized serving of the gnocchi. I think that a dinner of shared cheese plate, asparagus salad, and gnocchi or the portobello sandwich sounds awesome. No need to stay home with those items available. Yes, you'll have limited choice, but your limited options will be tasty, and it's probably worth this minor sacrifice to go to a restaurant that is perfect in every other way.

          A menu that would work, but I cannot speak to from personal experience, can be found at the Townhouse in Emeryville. http://www.townhousebarandgrill.com/D... I'm guessing it's a significant step down in quality, so you need to decide whether great food or lots of choice is more important.

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          Wood Tavern
          6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

      2. lexdevil RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 08:59 AM

        Dopo in Oakland. Menu is not huge, but it always includes 3 crudo, a variety of salumi and pate, 3 antipasti, soup, salad, 3+ pasta, 4+ pizza, and 2+ side veg. Only problem is no reservations for a party of 4, but a Tuesday shouldn't be impossible.

        I think your menu size concern about Rivoli is misplaced. The menu offers a good number of options (6+ apps., 6 entrees), and the offerings are well balanced between seafood, meat, poultry, etc. Nothing is weird or unfamiliar. You, as a vegetarian, will will have the most problems with the menu.

        Wood Tavern offers a couple more options than Rivoli. Food is hearty and comfortable. I don't know a soul who doesn't enjoy it. If you cannot get a table on Opentable.com, call them. They often have options that are not available online. Reservations are key. The current menu is decidedly veg unfriendly. You would probably need to cope by ordering a few appetizers (often a good option regardless). Your current options are:
        Russet Potato Gnocchi 12
        Kabocha Squash, Roasted Mushrooms, Sautéed Leeks, Sage-Brown Butter Sauce, White Truffle Oil
        Asparagus Salad 9
        Frisée, Diced Egg, Couscous, Chives, Truffle Vinaigrette
        Organic Mixed Greens 8
        Parmesan Cheese, Toasted Almond Gremolata, Spring Garlic Vinaigrette

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        Dopo
        4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

        Wood Tavern
        6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

        Rivoli Restaurant
        1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

        1 Reply
        1. re: lexdevil
          Caitlin McGrath RE: lexdevil Jun 7, 2010 08:42 PM

          The gnocchi with brown butter at Wood Tavern is such a rich dish that I can't imagine eating a larger portion by myself. That said, it is really stellar, and I have to say that I have ordered it in lieu of an entree and been plenty satisfied with it, a vegetable or salad appetizer, and cheese or dessert. Depending on the dining companions, I'd say the major caveat here might be the noise level, which can make extensive visiting a trial sometimes.

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          Wood Tavern
          6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

        2. l
          luciemom RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 09:15 AM

          Bay Wolf is always delicious, the service is great, and for picky parents (and anyone who wants to have a conversation) it's one of the few places that's not deafening (unlike Wood Tavern)! And while duck is their specialty, their salads, soups & other dishes offer plenty for a veg.

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          Wood Tavern
          6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

          Bay Wolf Restaurant
          3853 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

          1 Reply
          1. re: luciemom
            lexdevil RE: luciemom Jun 7, 2010 09:51 AM

            I'd thought of that too. The menu is more veg friendly than Wood Tavern's, but not by much. One veg soup, one veg salad, one veg entree (goat cheese stuffed pepper). They do, however, have a few sides (like mac & cheese) that may be veg. I think their menu is a little bit less universally appealing than Wood Tavern's. Nothing against it at all, but the ingredients listed are just a touch more unusual. That's a good thing for many, but possibly not MissVeg's parents.

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            Wood Tavern
            6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

          2. JasmineG RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 10:25 AM

            What about Pican? There are easy things like a pork chop and fried chicken on the menu, and they have good vegetarian options too. Wood Tavern is also a good idea (though you're right, it's not very veg friendly) and a reservation is hard.

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            Wood Tavern
            6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

            Pican Restaurant
            2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

            1. a
              abstractpoet RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 10:33 AM

              Marica, in Rockridge, is also very good, especially if your parents like seafood. But it, too, is usually pretty limited in terms of its vegetarian options. They don't have an updated current menu online (doesn't seem like they've updated their website since April), but you can call and ask.

              http://maricafood.wordpress.com/

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              Marica Seafood Restaurant
              5301 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

              1. Glencora RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 10:38 AM

                This might seem weird, but I've had had good experiences with picky, older relatives at Cafe Rouge. (Steering them away from Skates!) The menu is fairly large and there are some familiar choices. It's mostly meat, of course, but there's always a vegetarian risotto or pasta. I've been happy with that a couple of times. There's also fairly easy parking and it's not as crowded as newer places.

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                Cafe Rouge
                1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                2 Replies
                1. re: Glencora
                  lexdevil RE: Glencora Jun 7, 2010 10:46 AM

                  Good idea. Only one veg entree, one veg app, but three salads (4 if you edit one of the other options). Easy reservation, too.

                  1. re: Glencora
                    Morton the Mousse RE: Glencora Jun 7, 2010 11:35 AM

                    I've brought my picky father in law to Cafe Rouge twice now. He's always enjoyed it. They're definitely able to accommodate a vegetarian.

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                    Cafe Rouge
                    1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                  2. lexdevil RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 10:56 AM

                    The food is all wrong, but if you're looking to curb your father's flirtatious shenanigans, dinner at Asia SF is just what the doctor ordered. Too bad it's closed on Tuesdays. ;-)

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                    Asia SF
                    201 Ninth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                    1. MissVeg RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 07:20 PM

                      East Bay 'hounds, you are my knights in shining armor. Thank you so much for all your ideas. I promise to report back, if I survive. Ah, family... if only Tara made her saffron ice cream with trazodone.

                      1. susancinsf RE: MissVeg Jun 7, 2010 10:34 PM

                        I don't think Chop Bar would work, too noisy and casual. What about B in Oakland?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: susancinsf
                          Robert Lauriston RE: susancinsf Jun 8, 2010 09:26 AM

                          B's non-pizza menu is fairly short, otherwise it fits the bill.

                          How about Riva Cucina?

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                          Riva Cucina
                          800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

                          B Restaurant & Bar
                          499 9th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            lexdevil RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 8, 2010 11:13 AM

                            Riva Cucina is another good suggestion, though there are usually only four or so main courses (non-pasta) available. They could really use the support, too. Berkeley Bowl West has really hurt their lunch trade.

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                            Riva Cucina
                            800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

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