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Aug 7, 2012 07:10 PM

Birthday Dinner in Berkeley

My sister asked me to suggest a restaurant in Berkeley for a birthday dinner for my 30-ish niece. It should be appropriately nice for a birthday celebration but preferably a place where casual dress is OK.

It will still be light outside when we sit down to eat (7pm-ish) so a view would be a plus. Except for their mediocre food something like Skates might work (or has their food improved?). I’m not sure of her food tastes but I know she likes Italian and eats sushi and Indian food. It’s for tomorrow night (Wednesday) so we need some place where we can get same day reservations. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

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  1. Hi there, CMB - not IN Berkeley, but not far is À Côté in Rockridge (on College) - has a nice patio and the food is french/californian casual, and the atmosphere is kinda cool/hip. i was just there for my birthday (made the res a couple days early, but was able to change to a later time (from 6:30 to 7:30) the same afternoon with no problem. good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: mariacarmen

      Second that. My first thought given the criteria. Patio is lovely that time of night.

    2. Thanks for the recommendation, Maria and Robert. We've got reservations at À Côté. Should be fun!

      4 Replies
      1. re: charliemyboy

        Did you mention that you wanted the patio? Usually the inside fills up first but you definitely want to be sure they can seat you outside. Looks like a perfect day for it.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Yes, thanks to your suggestion I requested the patio. I had to accept a 7:30pm reservation though so the light will be somewhat dim by then.

        2. re: charliemyboy

          if they're still on the menu, the squash blossoms with pesto were delicious!
          as are the frites and aioli.

        3. Haven't been to Skates for dinner recently, but they did just do a remodel of the interior and hired a new team in the Kitchen.

          4 Replies
          1. re: nicedragonboy

            It's still owned by Restaurants Unlimited and the menu still reads like a branch of their Kincaid's chain.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I went to Skate's last week to check out the changes. Got a calamari sandwich on flat bread that literally was dry as cardboard with little fried bits on it- just awful!

              1. re: sydthekyd

                But they'll never mess up their beer! Getting a saturday afternoon beer is the only call.

                1. re: sydthekyd

                  If no one else will say it, I will: thanks for taking one for the team...

              1. re: mariacarmen

                It was great! À Côté was the perfect place for our dinner. The food was excellent, the patio seating was pleasant and the service was very good.

                The Mussels in Pernod sauce were the biggest hit of the evening. We couldn’t get enough of that incredible broth and kept asking for more bread so we could sop up every last bit of flavor. We ordered a second serving. The calamari salad was also outstanding-- amazingly tender with great tang and flavor. The pommes frites with aioli, spaghetti and clams, grilled flatiron steak and bacon wrapped salmon were all very flavorful. Even the side dish of corn, fava beans and chanterelles was terrific. The side of farro with green tomato mostarda didn’t impress but might have seemed quite tasty if not in the company of so many standout dishes. Everyone really enjoyed the food. My only gripe was the supposedly fresh lemonade was not actually fresh. Other than that one piece of misinformation our server was great-- friendly, informative and attentive.

                The limited number of choices on the menu seemed a disadvantage at first but that’s probably how they manage to do everything so well.

                1. re: charliemyboy

                  so glad you enjoyed! thanks for the report on what you had - i too had the corn/favas/chanterelles with my salmon, and loved them.

                  1. re: charliemyboy

                    Glad you enjoyed A Cote. It's one of my fave local restos.
                    It's also fun just to stop by at nite and enjoy drinks at the bar. When it's in season, there's nothin' like their passion fruit capirinha...
                    ps- I'm totally addicted to their mussels + frites.

                    1. re: charliemyboy

                      What was the lemonade if not fresh? I can't imagine them using a mix or concentrate.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I too cannot imagine them using anything but fresh lemonade.