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

j
Joan Kureczka Dec 20, 2010 09:03 AM

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.

-----
Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

  1. j
    Joan Kureczka Dec 27, 2010 09:02 PM

    well, we did indeed go to Chez Spencer, so here is my report:

    Ambiance: A+ A lovely room after an unexpected entrance. Plus for the old jazz on the sound track. Very nice, somewhat romantic, and relaxing for what comes next.

    Service: A -- highy professional. We were offered tastes of several of the wines before the pours and service was reasonably attentive. Not the greatest knowledge of the wine, but okay.

    Food: B. J enjoyed his beet salad, although I thought the large slices lacking in finesse and the overall salad just a so-so bistro version. My lobster cappucino was very good -- not quite as rich as some, but good flavor and a goodly amount of lobster meat at the bottom.

    We both ordered the venison which was well cooked but came in too much jus which helped to curdle the creme fraiche on the potatos. Meat was cooked as we ordered and reasonably flavorful, but nothihg to write home about. Potatos were cooked to nice consistancy and flavor was good, but creme fraiche was curdled. My own versions and the venison I've had in Alsace was better, but this was reasonably tasty if not great.

    Cheeses: Okay selection of five. We had the blue, from the Auvergne (excellent, very creamy); the Petit Basque; and the Redwood Farms crottin.

    All came with walnut bread, but no condiments or preserves. So okay.

    Bottom Line: Nice room, okay food. Would go back on someone else's tabl but not my own.

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

    1. j
      Joan Kureczka Dec 21, 2010 06:35 AM

      We now have a reservation at Chez Spencer. Will let you know if it was as nice as it sounds!

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

      3 Replies
      1. re: Joan Kureczka
        myst Dec 25, 2010 01:27 PM

        sounds nice. Next time maybe try Gitane. It has a spanish influenced menu and great ambiance. Not sure open on Mondays.....

        I like the appetizers especially the stuffed calamari and find it to be relatively quiet and romantic. I went there based on rec from this board. Great find.

        -----
        Gitane Restaurant & Bar
        6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

        1. re: myst
          wolfe Dec 25, 2010 02:01 PM

          Gitane
          HOURS:
          Closed Sunday-Monday
          Dinner: Tuesday through Saturday: 5:30pm - 12:00am
          Bar: Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30pm - 1:00am

          1. re: myst
            j
            Joan Kureczka Dec 25, 2010 02:52 PM

            I do want to give Gitane another try sometime, now that Bridget has taken over the kitchen. I wasn't all that impressed when I went there about a year or so ago. It wasn't bad, but not good enough to bother with again at that time.

            And no, they aren't open on Mondays.

            -----
            Gitane Restaurant & Bar
            6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

        2. k
          Kellyannbrown Dec 20, 2010 10:48 PM

          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:)

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

          8 Replies
          1. re: Kellyannbrown
            Robert Lauriston Dec 21, 2010 08:59 AM

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

            1. re: Kellyannbrown
              bbulkow Dec 21, 2010 10:30 AM

              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).

              -----
              A Cote
              5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

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

              1. re: bbulkow
                Ruth Lafler Dec 21, 2010 10:48 AM

                Bauer thought it was overpriced -- not so?

                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                  Robert Lauriston Dec 21, 2010 11:14 AM

                  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
                  Glencora Dec 21, 2010 11:00 AM

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

                  1. re: bbulkow
                    p
                    ptrichmondmike Dec 25, 2010 05:25 AM

                    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
                      s
                      sydthekyd Dec 25, 2010 10:11 AM

                      What did you have for lunch at Skates?

                      1. re: ptrichmondmike
                        Robert Lauriston Dec 25, 2010 10:35 AM

                        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.

                  2. daveena Dec 20, 2010 08:00 PM

                    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
                      v
                      vulber Dec 20, 2010 11:44 PM

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

                      1. re: vulber
                        w
                        wally Dec 21, 2010 05:55 AM

                        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
                          daveena Dec 21, 2010 06:23 AM

                          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
                            v
                            vulber Dec 25, 2010 04:29 PM

                            what were teh soup and dessert courses?

                            1. re: vulber
                              Robert Lauriston Dec 26, 2010 09:28 AM

                              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
                                daveena Dec 26, 2010 11:24 AM

                                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. d
                        dolcevita_sf Dec 20, 2010 02:31 PM

                        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.

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

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

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: dolcevita_sf
                          j
                          Joan Kureczka Dec 20, 2010 02:54 PM

                          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.

                          -----
                          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
                            j
                            Joan Kureczka Dec 20, 2010 05:37 PM

                            Looks like Chez Spencer it is.

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

                        2. Ruth Lafler Dec 20, 2010 09:47 AM

                          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.

                          -----
                          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
                            j
                            Joan Kureczka Dec 20, 2010 01:45 PM

                            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.

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

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