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Special occasion dinner in the South Bay

In case you're interested, here's a discount at Chez TJ from Travelzoo that can be used on a Friday.

One Day in SF

Agree, Aquerello isn't cutting edge, yet a very solid choice for someone requesting formal and high end. OP didn't mention if (s)he were dining solo. If so, I would def skip Aquerello. OTOH, if a romantic evening for two would fit the bill, we found the food to be beautifully prepared and the wine list extraordinary, all with graciously warm service to match.

You may find a more interesting vibe elsewhere, yet will not find a place that will treat you better.

Help Please, Sunday 28 December

If you'd like to stay close to Menlo Park, you may want to give Evvia a look. Well done Greek food from a wood oven, with a sopisticated, rustic, convivial atmosphere. Valet parking,no small benefit in Palo Alto, although there is a garage nearby. Make res well ahead.

Cloverdale and Geyserville Updates

Railroad Station Bar and Grill's menu looks like a fun, casual way to end a day of tasting. Extra points for "no microwave and we make all of our dressings and food in house". And a bonus - Happy Hour is all day on Monday.

Great suggestion, thank you!

Cloverdale and Geyserville Updates

Oh yeah, the clock changed last week. Hadn't even thought about the necessity to drive back in the daylight, especially since I didn't know that part of the road is twisty and hilly. Will rethink number of wineries, based on your much appreciated advice!

Cloverdale and Geyserville Updates

By any chance have you been to Ruth McGowan's post happy hour to sample their regular menu? We're staying in Cloverdale at Auberge on the Vineyard mid Nov and Monday will head north to check out some wineries. The long day will probably curtail our desire to drive to Healdsburg for dinner. Geyersville is close, yet we've been to Diavola and not sure about Catelli's, only reluctance stemming from its feature on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Barndiva is the night before, so Monday our prime mission is the best food possible closest to Cloverdale. Any suggestions? No sushi, please.

Also, are our winery choices solid? Pinot, zin, sparkling preferred.

Roederer or Scharffenberger?

Many thanks

Where to get good bread in the south bay?

Voyageur de Temps in Los Altos. Haven't tried the bread, but it looks just as delicious as the croissants and pastries, which I can definitely vouch for. They bake different kinds of bread based on the day of the week - multi-grain, walnut, raisin walnut, fig and walnut gorgonzola. Very high ingredients.

good italian restaurant south bay

If you're willing to go a bit north, La Strada or Vera, both in Palo Alto.

Peninsula baby shower location

I hosted a lovely baby shower at the restaurant at the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park and a friend who attended liked it so much, she did the same thing a year later and was also very pleased. In addition to a restaurant, the historic complex also has artist studios and beautiful gardens. The current restaurant, The Blue Garden Cafe, is run by different people than were there at the time of my event, so I can't speak to the current quality of the food. You could always go for lunch and check it out first. I was able to bring in my own bottles of champagne and they were happy to serve it. Once again though, it is a different caterer running the restaurant now, so don't know if that still applies. If the weather is nice, there is a back patio. Otherwise, inside there are two rooms, one of which can be used for small private events. It is a bit narrow, so if you don't like that, you can choose to be in the main restaurant, which is what I did. Since most diners there are those that are patronizing the artist studios, or strolling the gardens, it's not particularly busy, so being in the main restaurant worked out just fine for us.

Recommendation for a pre-vow renewal lunch in Napa?

Have been to both and given the occasion, would definitely choose Auberge over Redd. If you're interested, Auberge will even bake you a small cake. Just call ahead to make arrangements. Another thought - why not go after your ceremony for dinner, instead of before for lunch. Lingering over champagne, soaking in the view, and having time to enjoy each other's company, will certainly make for a lovely celebration.

Either way, congratulations!

Lure + Till in The Epiphany Hotel (Palo Alto)

Went for lunch today and three of us split two salads for apps - beet/yogurt/wheatberries/arugula and cesare/chicken thighs. We don't usually order cesar, however none of the app options were that compelling, at least to us. Cesar dressing was better than most, with a good garlic and parmesan flavor and the accompanying chicken was moist and flavorful. Although beet salad was unique, the yogurt accompaniment made it too bland for my liking, and the arugula was nothing more than a mere sprinkle, so not much peppery flavor to add to the mix.

Fish and chips, the main that we all chose, really shined - 4 pieces of flounder in a delicate, greaseless batter. Instead of the usual tartar sauce, it was served with a celery remoulade, a creamy sauce with a hint of celery flavor that was an unusually welcomed touch. Underneath the fish was a healthy portion of chips running the length of the plate - crispy on the outside, moist on the inside. May have been double fried, not sure, but unusually good. Although it seemed boring at first, I think we were all happy that we ordered the same thing. It would have been difficult to share any of the fish, it was that good.

Dessert was a sable fruit tart filled with passion fruit creme and topped with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries coated in a light sprinkling of sugar, with a lavender simple syrup dribbled on the plate. The filling was a nice change from a vanilla pasty cream and not too sweet, and the crust was a crispy tart shell, almost like a shortbread. All in all, refreshingly good, although a bit difficult to cut through with a fork or knife.

We had planned to eat outdoors due to the high noise level that I had read about. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate. Lacking any soft surfaces and a low ceiling, noise is certainly a drawback. Hoping they will address this in the future, because even with the restaurant only being half full, we found ourselves speaking louder than we would have liked.

Half full on a Friday? Hopefully not an indication of anything other than the word not yet out. With Palo Alto, we're always scratching our heads wondering how it could be packed with so many restaurants, yet so few go to places of interest. Although I wouldn't put this at the level of great excitement in other cities, it it certainly a welcomed addition to the Palo Alto scene.

Best Pizza in Peninsula...? Back up plans for arriving relatives...

Agree about Terrone being a better choice than Napoletana, mainly because it's setting is much livelier and they have an outside patio for those who would prefer to escape the inside noise. Pizza at Napoletana is good, if you like Naples style, however salads are bland and atmosphere is staid, quiet, dark, not at all impressive for your needs.

We tried Blue Line for the first time this past weekend. Ordered both a deep dish and a thin crust. Although our preference is thin crust, we were happiest with our deep dish cornmeal choice w/sausage and mushrooms. Toppings were fresh tasting and plentiful, with large chunks of tomato and sausage. We weren't as happy with the thin crust. No char and the one we ordered, the white, was mostly an overdose of cheese with a few slices of zucchini and garlic. Little flavor, not worth the calories, so stopped after one piece. I would have gladly eaten more of the deep dish however my dining companions had eliminated that option, happily gobbling it up. Inside seating is dark, yet outside on Castro St. would provide entertainment for the relatives and a gelato across the street could cap off the evening.

Looking for the best pie in the Bay Area.

For those on the Peninsula, delicious Gizdich Ranch Pies from Watsonville are available at DiMartinis Produce Stand on San Antonio in Los Altos. They are made from fruit grown on their own ranch. If you're ever in the Watsonville area, it's a fun stop, with a pie shop selling by the piece or whole, small deli, self guided ranch tours, U-pick fruit and an area with picnic tables/old farm equipment for the kids to climb on. Pies are made on the premises and it's a kick to watch the women in the back room rolling out and filling the crusts. It's quite an old-fashioned operation.

For lovers of Duartes pies from Pescadero, those are sold frozen at both Draegers Market and The Milk Pail.

Pizza in the Bay area

I absolutely *love* the tonno e cipolle pizza at Donato Enoteca, especially with the deep flavor of the tonno italiano and the added kick from the salty olive. Prior to Donato, the chef owned La Strada in Palo Alto, and that was my go to place for just that reason. In Palo Alto, that's now only a dream, new owners took it off of the menu a while back. Could they possibly be right - that very few people ordered it? I guess the thought of tuna on a pizza could be weird to some, yet I grew up eating pasta with tonno and cipolle as part of our special Christmas eve meal, so this was just a natural extension.

As Wally said, Napoletana in Mountain View is worth a try. It's an acceptable alternative however my last pizza there was made by the new pizzaiola and its small, grossly misshapen crust wasn't discovered until we got home. Taking a Naples style thin crust pizza "to go" is never a good idea anyways. It's inevitably soggy by the time one enjoys it.

Another place to try is Terrone in Palo Alto. Good crust and quality toppings, but still, no equivalent to the tonna.

Napa Valley

Unless it's last minute, many Napa Valley hotels require a 2 night minimum stay on weekends, at times waived when it becomes closer to the date. Supply and demand enters into the formula and some hotels may be more flexible, however in June you will be into the tourist season. I'm not saying impossible, just something to note.

Renting a car for the day and traveling back at night makes efficient use of limited time. You won't get caught in Sunday traffic coming back into the city, especially if you have a plane to catch, and will be able to enjoy another full day in San Francisco, if that's important to you.

Miki's market closing [Palo Alto]

Was there yesterday. Pickings are slim, although there was still a modest selection of shelved and bulk items, a few cheeses (nothing approximating their former selection), baked goods and what I think is a decent cheesecake, Rosen's, both large and small, chocolate/vanilla and plain.

I had been impressed with Miki's on former visits, particularly the cheese section/knowledgeable staff and also prepared food/take-out. It was sad to be there yesterday, especially knowing that all those people are losing their jobs.

Fried chicken? [SF]

Wayfare Tavern in the Financial District. I believe they sous vide the chicken prior to fying, making for a moist and tender bird.

Terrone - VPN Pizzeria in Palo Alto

Wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the schialatielli. I have been dreaming about that dish since lunching there a week ago. They must use 00 flour to achieve that texture.

We were, however, disappointed with the pizza. We ordered the Terrone, which the lunch menu described as San Marzano tomato, mozzarella and spicy sausage. It's the same pizza we always order at Napoletana in Mt View. When we see the word sausage, we practically sit up and beg.

When the pizza arrived, it had a scant amount of penny-sized, very thinly sliced meat still in the casing, not the sausage crumbles that I was expecting. The quantity was minimal, at most two pieces/slice, and it just didn't taste like italian sausage, although frankly, it was sliced so thin the taste was obscured by the sauce. When I went home and read the lunch menu on their website, the Terrone was listed as having salame, not the sausage that the restaurant menu had highlighted. I then compared the on-line lunch menu to the on-line dinner menu, and noticed a discrepancy in the ingredients in the Terrone. Dinner said sausage, not salame. So there was not only a difference between the website lunch/dinner menu for the same item, there was a difference between the lunch menu we were given at the restaurant and the lunch menu listed on-line.

Confused? So were we, although given the top notch ingredients of everything else, we'd certainly give it another try. Lunch came to $92 before tip (1 pasta, 1 pizza, 1 brussel sprouts, and 2 glasses of wine at $12.00 each). Not inexpensive by any means, and the same prices as at dinner.

Olema Inn reopening

Does anyone know if the restaurant has reopened as planned and, if so, any feedback on the food/atmosphere? I will be in Pt. Reyes next week for 2 nights and am looking for a second restaurant to add to our one anniversary dinner at Osteria Stellina. Would be content to return to the Station House if necessary, yet have been there many times and long for something new. Anything else to consider, sans oysters?

Private dining for two?

Yes, I see where you're coming from, yet my take is OP is requesting a restaurant that *also* offers a private dining experience - a small dining room or a booth with curtains, etc. And if that doesn't exist, a restaurant that offers intimacy - well-spaced tables, quiet atmosphere, etc. OP goes on to say that (s)he wants to avoid noise, which would be the case in a private hotel room, but difficult at most SF/Bay Area restaurants, thus the request.

Private dining for two?

I think the OP is asking for a recommendation to dine in a private room *within* a restaurant, not to have dinner in a hotel room. If that's the case, Dio Deko is very noisy, deafeningly so on weekends.

Romantic Unforgettable Restaurant in or around Bay Area/Marin for Special Occasion?

Heartily agree on the Acquerello suggestion for this particular occasion. Excellent food, tables well-spaced and that old world kind of service that is rare. Oh, let's not forget the cheese cart.

You will leave feeling very special. Let them know the occasion, they will be take service to the next level, if that's possible.

Cheese-making classes?

I also tried to sign up for fully committed Hidden Villa class and in communicating with the staff, they said they anticipated offering another in the future. You may want to email them to get on their mailing list, if you're still interested.

For romance - Bottega or Ad Hoc in Yountville?

"great unwashed who do not receive special treatment?" Huh? As I stated, only one out of 6 meals was as a hotel guest, the other 5 were not, including when they baked a custom birthday cake for our party when we were merely lunch guests. Sorry for your bad experiences over the years, yet, that does not change the fact that for others, listing them as a solid recommendation has been due to exactly what we have experienced. And I doubt that luck could have been with us all of those times.

For romance - Bottega or Ad Hoc in Yountville?

Hmmmm, your characterization of "barely passable food" stumps me and I can only assume that perhaps it goes way back? They do have a Michelin star, awarded 2 years in a row. Over the past say, 8 years, I have enjoyed lunch there a handful of times and have always left very happy, as have my dining companions. Twice the pastry chef has baked a special birthday cake, once we were staying at the hotel and the other time we were just lunch guests. This last trip the chef prepared two courses especially for us, which I had arranged in advance. This was the first time for dinner and I have to say, their star is well deserved. And IIRC, the price for 3 courses is $98, certainly not outrageous for the quality and setting.

For romance - Bottega or Ad Hoc in Yountville?

With all due respect, I strongly disagree about the quality of food at Auberge, at least on the evening we recently went. Our dinner included: first course of day boat scallops w/white corn, snap peas, crispy onions and vanilla oil (chef made this for us special- it's on their lunch menu, I believe), 2nd course of light-as-a-feather potato gnocci w/wild mushrooms, pea shoots, parmesan nage and black summer truffles and main of bacon wrapped perfectly cooked and meltingly tender veal w/sauteed figs, crispy polenta, orange marcarpone and red wine vinaigrette. Quality, preparation and service were all outstanding, and that doesn't take into account the romance factor. I do agree to your point on the price, it was more than dinner the next evening at Redd, yet also more memorable.

Where to buy the best NY-style cheesecake?

If you give it a try, like the results and decide to make it for your party, a bonus is that it will keep well for a few days in the fridge. On the day of, top w/whole strawberries pointed side up, and finish with a glaze. Good luck.

For romance - Bottega or Ad Hoc in Yountville?

+1 for Auberge, outside patio table overlooking the valley. Food is very solid, a top pick from our Napa visit last month, which also included Redd..

Where to buy the best NY-style cheesecake?

Very likely it was Lindy's cheesecake. If you're still dreamin' about it and willing to give it a try in the kitchen, google for the recipe. The one on the Saveur website is the authentic version - 2.5 lbs cream cheese.

Happy eating!

Where to buy the best NY-style cheesecake?

Draegers is good, although not so much as a true NY cheesecake. They also sell it in a mini version. Especially appreciate that theirs has no graham cracker crust or sour cream. Lindy's restaurant in NY made the most famous cheesecake, and it did not include graham crackers or sour cream topping. Don't know if this matters to OP or whether it's just the NY density they're looking for.