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Shhhh — quieter Oakland dinner decision

Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful recommendations. I'm actually now leaning towards Bocanova—the small plates format is up my alley, and the portions are a nice shareable size that will allow us to try a variety of items. The Central and South American flavors will be a nice counterpoint to the classic Italian meal we will have the next night.

I think I will save Plum for another day—although I still plan on trying it, I realize that the counter stools (where I would likely request we sit) are backless, and that the whole experience may be more up MY alley than OUR alley. However, I look forward to trying it when their bar is up and running as well.

I like B and Pizzaiolo very much, but I had not put them on my list because most of the dishes are Italian (even though a more rustic approach than Sociale) in leaning or origin. Great places, but looking for a variety this time.

I'll post my final decision and our actual experience when I have them!

Looking for Best Yogurt in the Bay Area

Ahh, I have definitely seen those in the case. Thanks!

Shhhh — quieter Oakland dinner decision

True. Communal tables and bar seating are generally OK for us. I took her to Canteen last time she came up and we sat at the counter, which was a lot of fun as we enjoyed watching the cooking and prep.

Shhhh — quieter Oakland dinner decision

I do plan to schedule before the peak dinner hour, so it's possible we could avoid the loudest times. Tamarindo can get noisy with a lot of people, but it's small, so the odds of a lot of loud folks at once is much less than, say, Camino.

Bocanova is a definite contender I had forgotten about. If it's a warm night like we've had lately, sitting on their patio could be perfect. I also had a great experience at Chop Bar this past weekend, which I'd recommend for this if I hadn't just been.

Re cocktails at Plum: Rats, I could have sworn I read they did. A side effect of aging, I guess.

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Tamarindo
468 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

Bocanova
55 Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94607

Looking for Best Yogurt in the Bay Area

Brown Cow is private-labeled at TJ's? I had no idea. Thanks for the tip. Do you remember if they have maple (my favorite flavor)?

I get them for $.99 tops at Lucky in Oakland.

Shhhh — quieter Oakland dinner decision

It's my birthday this weekend and my mother (who's from out of town) wants to take me out to dinner, but asked that I pick a restaurant. I love Oakland and would like to stay in the city. I'd like a nice mid-range restaurant (no Commis) with variety of food and great cocktails. So here's my shortlist:

Plum (largely based on the SF Chron rating and this fine review by Daveena: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/737525 ). My front-runner.
Camino
Tamarindo
Wood Tavern

A regretful no to: Bay Wolf (beer/wine only), Levende East, Ozumo (overrated IMO), Bar Lata (love, but had a birthday there last year), A Cote (birthdayed as well), Pican (3rd time's the charm), Flora, Mua, and most Italian (the next night we'll be at Caffe Sociale in SF).

The catch is that I'd prefer the restaurant is not screamingly loud (one of the reasons I eliminated Flora and Mua). I still haven't been to Plum, but it's got 4 bells from the Chronicle—not something that would normally deter me, but I know my mom would feel more comfortable without having to shout or strain to hear. I'm looking for opinions from diners who prefer it quiet to see if we can get by at Plum anyway, or if I should pick another option.

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A Cote
5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

Wood Tavern
6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

Levende East
827 Washington St., Oakland, CA 94607

Sociale
3665 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118

Tamarindo
468 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

Bay Wolf Restaurant
3853 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

Mua
2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

Ozumo
2251 Broadway Avenue, Oakland, CA 94612

Pican Restaurant
2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

Commis
3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

Berkeley; What's new at Local 123?

And on evacarlton's note, IIRC they do not charge extra for substituting soy for milk, which I appreciate, as I'm not a milk drinker.

A hankering for black forest cake

I was hoping so. I'll have to inquire about when they make it, or perhaps a special order for an everyday occasion.

A hankering for black forest cake

Not that I recall. And I would know. But there's a great Sachertorte Pocky out there if you can get it.

A hankering for black forest cake

Have I got one. Can anyone recommend a good black forest cake, preferably in/near the East Bay, but potentially travelable? Looking for a whole cake, not just a slice. Please no Merritt Bakery.

My ideal BFC has moist yet fluffy cake with a mild chocolate flavor, a healthy taste of kirsch and cherry, pieces of/whole cherries in the filling, and good frosting. Way too easy for the chocolate cake and chocolate frosting to overwhelm the cake—one of the reasons I like German chocolate cake is that it seems to have a lighter/less saccharine hand with the cocoa.

30th Birthday Dinner in Oakland / near BART?

Echoing what Ruth said. There's a range of spots a 30-year-old would like, depending on her personality and food preferences. The new free downtown Oakland shuttle runs every 15 minutes and there is a ton of stuff near the convention center (assuming it's there).

If I was taking my 30-year-old self, I would probably choose to go to Flora or Mua. If she'd prefer drinks and small plates, Tamarindo might be a good choice. Pican has fancy comfort food and great whiskey and bourbon drinks. There's Levende East and B, neither my first choice, but can be solid standbys.

I would avoid Luka's - the bar can be fine, but the food is pub food, not so much for celebration. Personally, I would also avoid Ozumo (unless she's really interested in sushi) as I find it overpriced and overrated for the quality.

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Levende East
827 Washington St., Oakland, CA 94607

Tamarindo
468 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

B Restaurant & Bar
499 9th St, Oakland, CA 94607

Mua
2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

Ozumo
2251 Broadway Avenue, Oakland, CA 94612

Pican Restaurant
2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

Berkeley/Oakland restaurant, walk-in, no res for Friday

Diverging a bit from Italian, I've actually had very good luck doing exactly that at Barlata on a Friday night. They also don't take reservations, but the staff is very friendly and accommodating. There's also limited standing (and limited sitting) room at the bar if a couple of you get there before everyone else. The nice thing about the tapas, of course, would be that it is very easy to order in multiple stages so that if one person does end up very late, you all can go ahead and order things to start, and then it's relatively quick for them to catch up once they arrive.

Conversely I have had bad luck trying to score a last-minute table (for 6) at Pizzaiolo, though they are a much bigger establishment than others mentioned (Dopo, Nizza la Bella, Boot and Shoe). But, with either, you can go to Marc 49 across the street and have a glass of wine while you wait (or Pizzaiolo has a nice waiting-area nook in the front on the bar side that they will allow you to treat as an extended bar area, good for awaiting a table and a straggling member of your party).

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Barlata
4901 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

Berkeley maybe oakland Seafood Dining Rec's

Don't discount the recommendations made to one of your earlier threads. Similar stuff.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/686509

21st Birthday in Berkeley

I think Wood Tavern would be perfect. Almost like a holy coup of pre-fancy-concert events, in that it's a straight shot up College walking through a pleasant neighborhood to Cal/the Greek, great food, nice cocktail list, fancy but lighthearted atmosphere.

I agree also that Cesar would be a good choice, still conceivable that they can walk, fun and energetic, and food perfect for sharing.

A Cote would be my third choice - while I personally love the food, and they do have a back patio that would be absolutely wonderful on a summer night, it's a bit far. Honestly, if you are going to a show at the Greek, it is least stressful to park only once, and just hike around from there.

Have not yet been to Gather but have heard ok things about it so far. Five, I think is too sterile for your purposes, although they have an adventurous cocktail list (the Amelia is my favorite). I cannot imagine a bohemian berkeley birthday at T-Rex. Ugh.

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A Cote
5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

Wood Tavern
6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

The Top Four Worst Coffeehouse Faux Pas

Regarding the Starbucks language, I agree it's kind of funny to watch people squirm when they can't get their favorite chain drink at a local shop (one place in my neighborhood simply posted a sign that says No! We Don't Have Frappucinos!). But, when the cashier or barista goes out of their way to kindly educate a customer, I think it is a mark of a great coffeeshop - passionate about coffee and wanting to share the love. That's what makes regulars. At farm:table in SF, they were so dear to my country mouse mother who did not know what a "Tendernob" was (slang for the neighborhood, and their term for something between a traditional macchiato and a cap); after their explanation, she ended up getting one and loving it. I'll go there any day for the great coffee PLUS the friendly staff. She told me about her earlier small-town experience where the barista gave her the macchiato she ordered, and when she questioned him if it was hers (of course, she was expecting Starbucks style), he simply snapped "that's the way it is", no additional explanation. I had to explain to her what a macchiato really entails, which was what she really wanted, not to be treated like an idiot by some bridge-and-tunnel random who needs to feel superior.

May 01, 2010
pockyjunkie in Features

Best cheap eateries + bars in Oakland/ Berkeley ?

On the beer side of the equation:

Cafe Biere in Emeryville is right near the 72 line and walkable from MacArthur BART, and has great happy hour specials - $3 for many different Belgian and European beers.

Beer Revolution in Oakland, walkable from 12th Street after your Chinatown dinner, has a ton of great beers for around $4 - and the owners plan on putting in about 20 more taps (they currently have 5, and a ton of bottled) very soon.

Also AC Transitable for cocktails are the $5 Farmer's Market specials at Easy on Lakeshore, by Lake Merritt. Free kettle corn, and you can bring in Arizmendi pizza from two doors down, for $2.25 a slice or less if you get a half pizza to share.

farmer's market kumquats?

sounds wonderful, little big al - thank you for the tip. I'll definitely check her stand out next time I am over in the city.

farmer's market kumquats?

Managed to get over to Temescal at the end of the market today - scored some good (not too thickly-skinned, tart but flavorful) kumquats from visalia and some excellent kara kara oranges. I'll be pickling/preserving all the kumquats I can restrain myself from eating fresh.

farmer's market kumquats?

Cool, thank you both for the quick reply! I'll try to hit up Temescal tomorrow.

farmer's market kumquats?

Curious if anyone has seen kumquats yet this season at their local FM (i know they are at BB and WF, but I would prefer a local grower). Was hoping to see some at Grand Lake or Jack London's farmer's markets by now (live in the Oakland), but haven't yet. Am I missing something?

Which Saturday farmers market to visit, Berk or Grand Lake?

Yes, agree with wolfe re 580. And since often 880 through Oakland gets clogged with traffic on the weekends, you can be better off going down 580 and then across 238 to 880, skipping most of the traffic portion.

Re Grand Lake, for prepared food, there is a great tamale stand, Uhuru does breakfast (eggs and potatoes, etc) with good cornbread; and there's a Himalayan place with good tsel and sha momo (dumplings) and excellent mango lassi. Phoenix Pastificio also has a stand and makes wonderful olive bread and almond cookies for takeaways to snack later.

Thinking of Leaving SF for Berkeley or Oakland. Crazy?

Re: Tokyo Fish. Must-go for fish items. It is a smaller, but well-curated, counter, about 75% fresh/frozen fish and 25% sushi-grade (including other sea items like uni, ikura, roe, etc.). I just had some citron tobiko (small container for about $2) that was amazing. Prices are comparable or better than BB, but the staff here really knows what they're talking about, so the overall experience is way better IMO.

* For those who have not been since the remodel, the expanded rear building which now houses the market is twice as big as the original front building, and the seafood counter is divided into a large fish section and a smaller other sea items section (including oysters, tarako, squid, various wakame and seaweed salads). There is a nice packaged sweets section that includes Osaka-Ya and Benkyodo mochi and manju. It is also much easier to navigate and you don't feel like things are spilling out of the tiny aisles anymore. The expansion has definitely allowed them to improve on the selection in general. *

TF has a small produce section, in which you can sometimes score deals in the must-sell section (very ripe fruits/vegs at half off or more). I found giant daikon for .99/lb. There is a good selection of Japanese produce that you may have a hard time finding in other places (for example, myoga), but I often find better deals on the same things at Koreana Plaza in Oakland (one small (~ 6 leaves) bunch of shiso/perilla = .99 at TF, 2 giant bunches (~10 leaves ea) of shiso = .69 at KP). Prices on some other goods, like umeboshi, are also much better at TF especially if you are looking for ones without food coloring or MSG.

Last, the sake selection is much bigger than BB and better-priced. I got a nice bottle of Nihonjin no Wasuremono for $12 last week (normal retail about $16). Also, if you like Hitachi no Nest beers, they are about a dollar cheaper than at Whole Foods (I forget if they have them at BB, probably do).

Viks ... now at their new location

I noticed Viks just updated their website recently so you might have a look - one of the things they added with the new location are these homey descriptions (maybe written by the owner?) and on the site there are pictures, so you can read and browse at leisure beforehand.
http://www.vikschaatcorner.com/menu.htm

The stations are for pickup - when they call your name as your order(s) come up, go to the station with the type of food you ordered, where there will be a plate waiting. If you are not sure which is yours, the man in the middle with a microphone will direct you.

As far as the prices go, figure anything on the chaat menu is going to run you $5-6, and the specials $7-8. If you have a few people, try ordering a special plus a couple chaat. When you order the chaat, try to diversify - for example order one dahi anything (dahi papdi chaat, dahi pakori, dahi batata puri/pani puri), you will find the flavor bases are quite similar (and all worth a go, it's hard to make a mistake). For me their dahi batata puri are crave-inducing.

A few of the things people commonly ask about at Viks are the "giant puffy bread" - that is the cholle bhature, giant lightly fried, airy bread served with chickpea stew and cilantro chutney, pickles and onions. Also the "giant rolled crepe" - those are the dosa - the weekday dosa is a tasty vegetarian spiced potato stuffing, with coconut chutney and sambar (veg stew). Either of these can easily be a meal for two.

As far as the specials, the fish curry is my one favorite, appropriately spicy; the lamb and the eggplant are ok; I generally never have chicken here.

It can get very crowded at peak hours (weekdays at noon, and often on weekends), but you can get lucky and beat the rush if you go a bit early or a bit late for weekday lunch (before 12, or almost 2). But even with the big line, there are so many cooks in the kitchen, you won't have to wait too long. In fact, waiting for your food can be a fun opportunity to watch the food being made and make some mental notes for your next trip.
:

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In sum, I think Viks is a pretty good place to be initiated into the world of chaat - nice selection, good prices that allow you to sample multiple things, and friendly staff too - if you get stuck on your order at the front of the line, don't be afraid to ask for help. And enjoy.

Viks ... now at their new location

Vik's does take credit cards, actually.

Restaurant near A.C.T.

How about Canteen? 5-10 minute walk up Sutter, and they have 3 specified seatings, good for making it back to the show on time. Wonderful cozy, rotating seasonal menu, and excellent vanilla soufflé. But not recommended for a group of more than 6 - and really anything more than 4 might be tight.

Sunday night, East Bay dinner: help an ex-Oakland hound

Camino does 'Crab Mondays' now. Prix fixe menu revolving around our friend, the crab.

Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant in San Francisco

I suppose the answer would be in their dashi (and i'm not a vegan so I admit I've not questioned) - if it's got fish or if it's purely veg based. They do call out a few things as 'vegan' on the menu that would possibly be made with egg or dairy elsewhere (like cake), but many of the items not specifically designated vegan are actually vegan, like their chawan-mushi.

Indian Cooking classes south bay or SF

I took a good Indian cooking class from Chef Afreen Wahab at the California Culinary Academy. I'm not sure if she's there anymore (this was about 4 years ago), but you might check. (Tried looking her up online for a website, but no luck.)

Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant in San Francisco

vulber, are you confusing it with Chaya (no hyphen) on Embarcadero? That's French/"Asian", not necessarily veg.

I don't see the SF Cha-Ya locations listed on CH yet, but there's one on Valencia and one in the Sunset.

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Chaya Brasserie
132 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

Farm Table

Yes, went a few weekends ago on a Sunday morning. Tiny space (literally - one communal 'farm table' and very friendly staff, assorted baked goods and a few specials. They're supposed to have great homemade cereal, which I didn't get to try because it had sold out by the time I got there (around 10:30) that day. I had banana-coconut bread pudding, which was served warm and had slices of caramelized banana and toasted coconut (real not flakes), and very good. Their drip coffee has free refills, though the quality of the Verve beans holds up very well and is similar to a strong Blue Bottle (for those who enjoy that). Stood up well to milk, but very smooth without too. I'll definitely be going back there the next time I'm in the Tendernob (which they've named a drink after - in between a macchiato and a cappucino, closer to the macchiato side).

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Farm Table
754 Post St, San Francisco, CA