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Best Monday night special (anniversary) dinner with somewhat fussy husband?

Well, given the weather ALL our holiday plans are off, including our 30th anniversary dinner which we'd planned to spend in London.

So, I'm looking for good ideas for a special dinner which happens to fall on a Monday night. It should be in San Francisco, but would consider Berkeley if necessary. Further complicating factors are that many of the places I'd like to go, my DH would likely hate (and that would make me unhappy) -- no tasting meals, no overly pretentious places. He doesn't like a lot of fuss and overly fanciness, and also has bad reactions to tomatoes and too much richness. His ideal place for a special anniversary dinner is Chez Panisse, and we've indeed gotten onto the waiting list for Monday the 27th (and choucroute is a favorite!). But chances of that coming through are slim.

We also don't want something so noisy as to make it hard to talk. This is a 30th anniversary dinner after all.

Your thoughts for a lovely evening on relatively short notice? And NO, I don't want to change from Monday night, despite that it would give me even more choices on where to go.

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Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

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  1. I did a quick peek on Open Table. Boulevard, Jardiniere, Quince, Fifth Floor and look like they might be options in SF. In the East Bay, A Cote, Lalime's and Rivoli.

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    A Cote
    5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

    Rivoli Restaurant
    1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

    Fifth Floor Restaurant
    12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

    Lalime's
    1329 Gilman, Berkeley, CA 94706

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      I'd already checked Open Table, but none of these quite fit. Jardiniere and Quince are too expensive ala carte and tasting menus are out, Boulevard we've done (with a bad service experience), and the Fifth Floor looks totally uninspiring (and I'm not wild about the space in any case). Other than CP, if they come through, I'd rather stay in SF.

      Robert's suggestion of Incanto (which somehow has now disappeared from this thread) was spot on for fitting both my DH and my tastes (and we've not been there, so another plus), but unfortunately they are closed for the holidays.

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      Fifth Floor Restaurant
      12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Chez Spencer, maybe? Foreign Cinema? Isa or Range? (The back rooms at both of the latter are cozier/more romantic than the tables in front, and I've always enjoyed the food at both.)

        Haven't yet been to Cotugna, but hear good things and they currently have an 8:30 on OT.

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        Chez Spencer
        82 14th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

        Foreign Cinema
        2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

        2 Replies
        1. re: dolcevita_sf

          Foreign Cinema has been one of our regular go-to places for anniversaries so was hoping for something different. Chez Spencer is worth considering though -- we haven't been there.

          DH has some issues so starting a dinner as late as 8:30 is extremely problematic -- I did call Cotogna, but unfortunately they are booked until then. That also ruled out several places with only late night openings that Monday via Open Table.

          May consider Piperade, as Bocadillos is one of DH's favorites for everyday dinners out. And London was going to be Barrafina for out-of-this-world seafood tapas, so it would be back in Spanish mode.

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          Chez Spencer
          82 14th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

          Piperade
          1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

          Foreign Cinema
          2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

          Bocadillos
          710 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          Cotogna
          490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

          1. re: Joan Kureczka

            Looks like Chez Spencer it is.

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            Chez Spencer
            82 14th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

        2. I can't think of anything better for a Monday than Camino's Crab Monday prix-fixe (running through January - I'm going to assume that if Berkeley's ok, then Oakland is too). If your DH loves the CP aesthetic, Camino should work too - just make sure you get one of the little two-tops, and not a seat at the communal table.

          6 Replies
          1. re: daveena

            is camino still doing the crab dinners? i noticed it had been taken off their website...

            1. re: vulber

              I got an email on Sunday stating that it would be going through January but that you should come early before they run out of crab.

              1. re: vulber

                Just went last night - the crab main is really, really good, and at $26, the prix-fixe is a great deal, though i have to admit I didn't think the soup and dessert courses were as good as their counterparts on the Oktoberfest. menu

                In any case, the crab is available every day (it's $20 a la carte), including brunch, where it's served with a light salad (the brunch version is only $13). Their brunch crab followed by their fresh donuts is easily my favorite brunch anywhere.

                1. re: daveena

                  what were teh soup and dessert courses?

                  1. re: vulber

                    According to the email, last week's menu was crab broth with wild nettles and garlic, half a Dungeness crab grilled in the fireplace with farro, rapini and Jerusalem artichokes, and pear-brown butter cake.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      The crab broth was really good, but I'm not a fan of the slippery, chewy texture of wild nettles lightly cooked in broth (prefer them either blended into pasta dough or roasted to a crisp on pizza). The beet soup at Oktoberfest was stunning (and pretty substantial) so the crab broth and nettle soup paled a bit in comparison.

                      The pear cake was pleasant, and now that I think about it, I can't remember what the dessert was at Oktoberfest, so it's probably a tie for that course.

            2. I like Skates on the Bay for fancy, but not toooooo fancy dinners. It's menu is good, but not fussy. Service is great, but not too obsequious. You don't leave feeling hungry. There is quite a bit of sparkle around the holidays and it's just hard to beat the views of the bay, even if it's raining. I'm partial to this restaurant, also, because this is where my husband and I had our first date.

              p.s. We celebrated our anniversary tonight with take out Chinese food (local) and sparkling soda. It was a quiet family affair:)

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              Skates On the Bay
              100 Seawall Drive, Berkeley, CA 94710

              8 Replies
              1. re: Kellyannbrown

                Skates is more or less a branch of the Kincaid's chain.

                1. re: Kellyannbrown

                  I have a soft spot for the place too, and the view and service are quite nice, but I'd put the food somewhere below the jack london square Scott's Seafood and significantly lower than the places we recommend here commonly - A Cote, Flora, Luka's, Way too much Sysco on the menu.

                  By the way, I'd consider Flora. Nice room, new chef is cooking very well, pretty standard short-menu place like CP cafe (without the pizza).

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                  A Cote
                  5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                  Scott's Seafood
                  855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Bauer thought it was overpriced -- not so?

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Flora's not open on Mondays.

                      The menu's online. Portions are generous. I've never felt overcharged there.

                      http://www.floraoakland.com/menus/din...

                    2. re: bbulkow

                      I like Flora for lunch--I agree the room is nice--but it can be loud at dinner.

                      1. re: bbulkow

                        My office gang went to Scott's for lunch on Tuesday, and my ex-wife and I went to Skates for lunch on Xmas eve. Not only was Skates almost 50% less expensive, the food IMO was considerably better. And the view, of course, is unbeatable. Not haute cuisine at either place, but Skates seemed much improved compared to 10 or 20 years ago (I hadn't been there for quite a while).

                        1. re: ptrichmondmike

                          What did you have for lunch at Skates?

                          1. re: ptrichmondmike

                            I'm not sure that a topic on alternatives to Chez Panisse is the most helpful place to compare the relative merits of Scott's and Skates.