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Aug 31, 2012 11:52 AM

The boss is paying for dinner--where should I go (on the Peninsula)?

Hi hounds, this is a good problem to have. I just completed a very difficult, complicated and stressful project with great results (patting myself on the back) and the boss said to go out to dinner and he'll pay for it (and I know he didn't mean Denny's). It's a holiday weekend, I don't know if I'll be able to find someone to go with me, so I will probably end up going out alone. If I can't get someone, then I can't get a reservation anywhere. I don't want fine dining as I'm exhausted and want something where I can relax and decompress a bit. I can't eat a lot of spicy food so no Thai, Cuban, Hunan, etc. It could be great BBQ, seafood, Italian, American...

I could go to one of my usual favorite places but would love to try someplace new. I'm located mid-Peninsula and figure I'd go anywhere in between Burlingame and Palo Alto. I'm too exhausted from this project to drive into SF and wouldn't go there by myself anyway.

I could easily go to Old Port Lobster Shack and get a whole lobster but then again, I could go somewhere else. I won't mention any other places I've been to and loved, please just suggest what you think would work.

So, if I go alone, where should I go? If I get a friend, where should I go?


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  1. Martins West is great for a solo diner or otherwise. Make a reservation, they fill up on the weekend.

    1. Donato Enoteca
      Portola Kitchen

      1. Just had a wonderful family birthday dinner at Fuki Sushi in Palo Alto,combined with brought in Sprinkles cupcakes,that they,with a plating charge per person,decorated on huge trays with the most amazing carved fruits,with green tea ice cream and more fruit for the birthday girl!We had a private tatami room for eight.The service was beyond excellent,sushi beyond fresh,especially the Toro,Spanish mackerel,Uni with quail egg,Maguro and the geoduck clam.The other rolls,spider,salmon, and chicken karage,Goya ramen and miso so delicious.Cooking their prime rib slices w/ fresh asparagus on the hot stone for the family,delighted all the nieces and nephews,foodie chefs themselves.Easy location on 4119 El Camino,Palo Alto.The main restaurant has small tables good for single diners.

        2 Replies
        1. re: casalbore spirit

          Yep, if I was eating on someone else's dime on the peninsula, Fuki or Sakae would be my choice. Either would be glorious, and fantastic for a solo diner sitting at the bar.

          1. re: artemis

            Thanks artemis,I have to admit I have researched Japanese dinners in SF and the east bay,as my niece and nephews love high style Japanese food,after time in Asia.Some of the best rated in SF,chosen for some,have disapointed!This just came together as a great evening and most dishes,not all were the freshest,however most with good execution.The geo duck didn't appear fresh,though pricey,and I regretI didn't get the live sashimi version that I saw at Legendary Palace in the O,a week earlier before,because even the small one was too much for one.The end experience at YS was a combo of nice private ambience,great food,Toro like butta,It was too good to not do it thrice,attention,and a beautiful twenty year old feeling happy about the celebration place she had researched for her special day andl time with her family!

        2. Thanks for the replies. I ended up at Osteria Coppa in San Mateo, mostly because I was downtown late in the afternoon, the timing was perfect and I had wanted to try it. I ate at the bar and while it wasn't the best meal I've ever had, it hit the spot and I enjoyed it. I'm definitely going to try Donato Enoteca another time.

          Thanks again.

          1. it sounds like you already picked and ate ---

            Here's my list:

            1) don't go to Fuki Sushi. Although I've been there a few times, the best of Fuki is their grilled / fried, and ability to swallow large groups. The standard sushi they serve - and at the bar - isn't the best on the peninsula by any stretch. Rolls are decent, but rolls are for californians. The bar at Fuki is usually empty, most of the people are couples. It's one of the few places that feels a little weird as a single. I prefer Naomi, if you sit at the corner of the bar with the head itami, I forget his name. He'll make you special handrolls, and he sometimes has freshly pressed and preserved saba. He's a quirky and inventive guy, and I appreciate that. I believe Jin Sho has better fish than Fuki, and I know Sam's has better.

            2) +1 (and more) on Martin's West. It's always fun in there, the bar area (needs no reservation) has a lot of interesting people, but it's worth going only if you drink, because the food is pretty good but not great. The food + drink + atmosphere makes it a winner.

            3) Village Pub. The food is flat out awesome for that sort of high end american, never disappoints, and you feel pampered and old-money-for-california. This is a place to just "enjoy the good life" with no complications. You can eat a full meal at the bar, but it fills up fast, and you won't feel as pampered.

            4) 231 Ellsworth. The food there really is that good, it's an underlooked gem partially because of the cost (price performance may not be great), and I think closer to your house (since you said you'd drive north as far as Burlingame). You'll get a nice wash of food in a pleasant atmosphere.

            5) Regarding Donato Enoteca - I don't know, I can't get excited about it. I ate there once, and maybe it was the evening, but I wasn't overjoyed. We were placed along the hallway, the food was good, but I like Vero so much better for italian, and Vesta better for pizza. I need to give it another shot, but it might be a few years before that happens.