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Redwood City (or very close) upscale?

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We want to take my son and gf out to dinner Saturday night to celebrate his birthday and making it through the first few weeks of medical residency, including his first (and hopefully last:-) plane crash and a lot of other craziness....For some reason (probably because alcohol will be involved:-) no one wants to go into the City that night. Any ideas for a nice place we can have a nice celebration....not too upscale, but a step above the usual would be good. And both DH and my son's girlfriend eat no meat (seafood is fine!) so pescatarian friendly is good...

Also, DH remembers eating at a restaurant 20 years ago that he still remembers as being a good place...all he can remember is that it was upscale, on the bay, and near a CA state park that was near Redwood City. He is convinced that this mythical place still exists and would be the perfect place, if only we knew the name and exactly where it is....I know its a BIG stretch, but does this ring a bell with anyone??

(in general, the kind of place where we can dress up a bit and have cocktails but not have to eat meat is exactly what we're looking for....) TIA!

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  1. Some ideas (though not the mythical one):

    Donato Enoteca
    Station 1
    Village Pub
    All Spice

    1. Sounds like Bella Vista in Woodside. It's been around that long though it's not on the bay. It has a panoramic bay view.
      http://bvrestaurant.com/

      The times I've been to Donato Enoteca, the seafood dishes have been excellent. Better than the meated ones.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        A couple of reports on Bella Vista:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/39816

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Went to Bella Vista last year--would strongly advise to avoid. We had a Bloomspot certificate in hand, but the meal was still extremely expensive. That would have been fine if the food was any good, but the food was not.

          The salads and escargot were subpar, but the beef and abalone special were downright poor. The beef was mushy. The abalone was covered in almonds and bread crumbs then pan fried; one could not tell if it was abalone or tasteless calamari. Everytime there was a steak diane being served in the room, the smell would overwhelm everything else. The only good thing was the dessert souffle, which the kitchen almost ruined with an unbalanced cherry sauce that was both too sour and too sweet . This is what people think of when saying a restaurant is old school, in a bad way.

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          Yeah, Bella Vista. There are no upscale restaurants on the bay itself in RWC. There aren't even restaurants on the bay, either, because it's mud flats, except for that one by the RWC marina (that closed).

          Thus the Bella Vista makes sense for his memories.

          I would recommend Flea Street. It's closer to campus, people dress for dinner there - somewhat at least - the veg bits are quite good, and they do make a decent cocktail. Another option is Tamerine, people seem to dress up a bit for that too.

          Although - I think you are picturing someplace even more formal, like Village Pub, although they're more meat focused.

          1. re: bbulkow

            Second Flea Street - mildly disagree on Tamerine. The food is acceptable but it reads more like splurge week night than a special dinner (for me).

            But if we're going to talk about University Ave. there is also Evvia. Good food, casual but upscale atmosphere - service leaves a little bit to be desired.

            1. re: goldangl95

              I don't fully disagree....

              I find Evvia to be more of a "splurge weeknight" than Tamerine, and - in the main dining room - people are better dressed.

              I ate at Evvia last week for lunch, and the fish on the grill is still great. I've never had a service issue there.

          2. re: Melanie Wong

            Donato Enoteca has a menu that appeals.....any other chowhounds have thoughts on it?

            1. re: janetofreno

              We really enjoyed the food and wine at Donato Enoteca. On another trip, we had a great breakfast just around the corner on Main St. at Alana's Café.
              http://www.alanascafe.com/pdfs/Alanal...

          3. The only state park I can see from the map that's close to the bay is San Bruno State Park. but that's further north. the edge of the bay is pretty well developed, except around Palo Alto, Mountain View where they have the city parks but no upscale restaurants that I can think of.

            1. Evvia in Palo Alto may be an option.

              1. Sounds like your DH may be referring to Castaway restaurant overlooking the SF bay @ Coyote Point. It was fine-dining back in the day and a romantic spot to watch the lights of planes departing, and arriving at SFO airport. It closed in 1997.

                Maybe The Sea (Palo Alto) by Alexander's Steakhouse will fit the bill. Haven't been back since 2 weeks after opening. It's certainly a celebratory kind of place. I also recommend Flea Street as well. It usually has at least 1 seafood, and vegetarian option. Call ahead.

                2 Replies
                1. re: letsindulge

                  I went to The Sea on my employer's dime two weeks ago. The food was pretty good, not great. Based on the food and the unimpressive sommelier and the slightly "off" service (everything seemed slightly amateur, unpolished), it was wildly overpriced and I plan to steer my employer's money elsewhere in the future. It's a very nice looking restaurant though.

                  1. re: artemis

                    Second that The Sea is disappointing food quality and service wise especially for the price - nice place to grab drinks.

                2. Update: We ended up at Donato Enoteca. I agree with something Melanie said: the seafood dishes were definitely better than the meat ones. My son had a flank steak dish; it was tender and tasty but nothing special (sorry, birthday boy:=) However, my appetizer of grilled calamari has to be one of the best bites I've had in a long time....I did have a duck breast special, and it was very good as well. DH's experience was somewhat dampened by the fact that his salad contained pork (and had to be sent back....)....of course, this was partially our fault for not recognizing the ingredients, since much of the menu is in Italian....And speaking of Italian, this is one gripe I did have with the restaurant...just about all the wines are Italian, and they tend to be pricey at that...its a lovely long list, but there were almost no wines I recognized, and it is hard to spend 60 or 70 dollars on a bottle when you don't even recognize the grape variety......

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: janetofreno

                    Just looking at the online list, it doesn't seem unreasonable for an italian restaurant. The mid-point on the reds is $60/bottle, and they have a very nice caraffa system where you can order glass, 1/3 bottle, 2/3 bottle, full bottle again with a midpoint of about $60. If the som didn't steer you to a strong wine at your price point, I think you have a gripe --- did you get a wine you liked?

                    I get urked by a wine list with too many bottles over $1,000 and nothing reasonable under $100, but even then, as long as the bottle I am recommended fits my price/quality ratio for the evening, what do I care what wines they have?