Berkeley (or Nearby) Restaurant for Taking NYC folks
Our friends are visiting from NYC and want to take my husband and I out to dinner. Here are the caveats. My husband is vegetarian and is sick of going to places with 1 token veg dish that is boring. I can't eat dairy. Our friends are getting older and need a restaurant that isn't loud. Unfortunately, the only night we can go out is a Friday -- which I know is busier and therefore louder. Finally, one friend adores chocolate desserts, so if there's a place that has something extra-special that would be great. I'd like to stay within 20-30 minutes of Berkeley. Thank you for helping to solve this puzzle!
Gather would be a good spot, but it's definitely can get on the louder side. Not sure how bad it'd be right now though since it's summer and definitely less students dining there most likely.
Gather. It fits most, if not all, your requirements. It's in Berkeley (Oxford, across from campus). The restaurant is a nice space with good food, and an interesting wine list. The menu is well stocked with dishes for the vegetarian, vegan, and carnivore.
Where it may miss the mark is (1) the noise level. It's "vital", but not oppressively so. My wife and I (both of us see our 50's in the rearview mirror) have eaten there a few times, and have not been put off by the sound level...and (2) the current menu does not have a chocolate dessert.
I'll just add a word of caution: although I haven't been there myself, my parents *hated* Gather (they hated everything about it: the food, the service, the whole "concept") and they thought even if they had liked the food it was overpriced so apparently it's not everyone's cup of tea.
"Within 20-30 minutes of Berkeley" includes virtually everywhere in Oakland, so that opens up a lot of possibilities.
re: Ruth Lafler
My mother in law also hated everything about Gather -- even the air drier in the restroom. I liked, though.
I recently attended a graduation dinner with lots of older relatives at the Lake Chalet of all places. The food was quite good. I'd been there for lunch previously and thought the food was awful, so I was genuinely surprised. We had no trouble making conversation. The corner table with the view of the lake at sunset felt very special. Not a lot of vegetarian choices, though.
Quiet places: Riva Cucina, Ajanta, Rivoli, Nizza, back room at À Côté, Oliveto, Chez Panisse
I think they're all more vegetarian-friendly than one token dish. They all have menus online.
1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709
1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707
Nizza La Bella
827 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706
800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710
1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707
5655 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618
Chez Panisse Cafe
1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709