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From Berkeley to Nashville

So the SO has a job offer from Vanderbilt, and we're thinking of pulling up roots here in Berkeley, CA (home of Chez Panisse, Berkeley Bowl, and self-satisfied ex-hippie jerks). Of course my first worries were about the availability of CSAs, grass-fed beef, locally roasted coffee, and delicious cheap food of varying ethnicities. We're going to be visiting the city for the first time in a couple weeks. I would love to see your recommendations for good everyday restaurants and cafes. We especially love coffee, wood-fired pizza (Pizzaiolo in Oakland is our favorite), Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, and barbecue (of which we're sorely lacking in Berkeley). Any thoughts?


REALLY spicy food in the Bay Area?

Agree on Ruen Pair. The key is to know who's cooking. When the dad is cooking and I order "Thai spicy," it's too much even for me.

New Turkish Restaurant in Berkeley

Julie's is gone? Oh, no! Where will I get banana bread at lunch now?

This is a serious problem!

Kermit Lynch bargain bin wines [split from KL's Oyster Bliss thread]

Makes sense. Thanks! One learns so much here. :)

Kermit Lynch bargain bin wines [split from KL's Oyster Bliss thread]

The brett funkiness seemed to blow off in the glass after a few hours. It's also possible that I'm especially sensitive to it. I don't know that much about mourvedre, but I've read that the brettanomyces can cause significant variance from bottle to bottle. True?

Kermit Lynch bargain bin wines [split from KL's Oyster Bliss thread]

Going off topic here, but I opened the bargain CdP tonight. For everyone else, it's a 2003 Domaine de la Charbonniere Chateauneuf de Pape Cuvee Special Les Hautes Brusquieres. I've been going back to it over the past four hours, and all I can say is: wow, interesting. But not something I'd buy again! Started out soft and woody without much of a nose, but a strong animal/marrow midpalate. Funky. Did not like except as an experiment. (Sort of the way I feel about the music of Boulez. Interesting, but what's the point?) After a couple of hours it opened up a lot and I got more liquorice and pepper. I bet this will continue to improve, but I can see why it's in the bargain bin! It's weird. Nathan

Kermit Lynch bargain bin wines [split from KL's Oyster Bliss thread]

Thanks--I think I'll have to try both.

Kermit Lynch bargain bin wines [split from KL's Oyster Bliss thread]

P.S. I've been eyeing that '03 Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the bargain bin for several weeks. What did you think? The clerk told me that it might be too "barnyard" for me, but I'm still curious. Ah, hell, I guess I should just try it.

KL's Annual Oyster Bliss, 4/19/09

Very nice report--thanks, Melanie. I didn't manage to get there until it was well and truly packed, so I did some shopping and came back after all the food was gone and tables had opened. I managed to chat for a while with Denis Jamain (Reuilly) and try both of his wines. The pinot was nice for quaffing, but I quite loved the white. Wish I had tried the Vezelay.

Atlanta: Downtown restaurant w/private room?

Thanks for your recommendations! I've also been told to look at Ray's in the City and Django (although it looks like Django might be better for a *real* dinner + drinks rather than a meeting). Any thoughts on those?

Thanks again.

Atlanta: Downtown restaurant w/private room?

Hi, all--

Bay Area chowhound here with a question. I'm going to be in ATL for a business meeting in early April, and it suddenly has fallen to me to arrange a dinner meeting for about 10 people. I'm looking for a nice place with a private room close to the Hyatt Regency downtown. A quiet restaurant where they would tolerate an extremely slow pace would be ideal. We'll be a group of rumpled academics from various parts of the world, and good-quality food and pleasant service are more important than any particular cuisine. My limit is something like $60 per person, including drinks, so it would need to be moderately priced.

I'm panicking a bit over here. Thanks so much for any advice!

Great Japanese hot pot?

It's my partner's 40th birthday, and she has requested sukiyaki. So where can I find the best sukiyaki in the SF-Berkeley-Oakland area? It doesn't necessarily need to be prepared tableside, but I'd like it to be really fine beef and carefully prepared broth. She's crazy for sukiyaki, so that's what I'm looking for--not any nabemono. (And I love it too when the meat is buttery and the mushrooms are full flavored and the broth is the perfect balance of sweet and salty--mmmmmmm.)

I was thinking Ozumo, but reviews make it sound overpriced and annoying. It looks like Yoshi's has removed sukiyaki from its menu.

I should also mention that we'll have a couple of vegetarians in our party, so we'll need to take that into consideration, too.

Any recommendations? Many thanks!

Martini taste-test, anyone?

So I'm going to be mixing some martinis for friends soon, and we want to do a taste-test of different martini possibilities. I'm going to get Plymouth as the classic, Platonic ideal of a gin for martinis, and we were thinking of balancing it with Hendricks on the floral side and Junípero on the juniper side.

The Platonic martini would be this:

4 parts Plymouth
1 part vermouth (Vya Extra Dry if I can find it, or Noilly Prat)
*possibly* a dash of orange bitters
stirred until very cold
sprayed with a twist of lemon (but not inserted into the drink)

What recipes would you recommend for the Hendricks and Junípero to bring out their unique qualities? We could try other garnishes, other vermouths, other ratios.

With Hendricks, I like this:

5 parts Hendricks
2 parts Noilly Prat
stirred until very cold
garnished with a slice of cucumber

but was wondering what it would be like with, say, Carpano Antica.

I'm a little unsure of how to mix with the Junípero, which I personally don't like all that much but others do.

Are there other gins you'd suggest to round it out? (Not Old Raj--I'm not spending that much!)


Oct 15, 2007
banchory bolo in Spirits

Berkeley spots with private room for ~20

Would Downtown be too expensive? We booked a large work dinner in their private room, and they did a good job.

Grocery Outlet - Berkeley - Lindt 70% bars $.99 each

I must say that this is a terribly exciting thread! I live less than a mile from the Berkeley GO, and I was always too scared to go in it. I imagined it was nothing more than dented cans of Progresso soup and moldy fruit. After hearing about the wine and chocolate, I'm going to have to add it to my post-Vik's activities. I blame all of you for the attendant weight gain.

Vik's ... better than ever?

I agree! I was there to meet a friend about a month ago; it was our first time there in several years, and we were blown away by how consistently good everything was, and as cheap as we remembered it. We went at 11:30 on a weekday and there was no line at all.

Recs. for a great meal on short notice?

Well, all in all it was a terrific dinner. I can't add too much to bernalgirl's excellent report here: Our experience was a bit louder than hers, because we were at a round table not far from the entrance, but it was easy to carry on a full-table conversation. The service was attentive but not cloying, and the waiter knew how to hang back without ignoring us. The only service misstep was that we had intended to order cocktails before getting to appetizers and wine, but our waiter took so long to get back to us that we skipped cocktails. (I'll have to go back for the kaffir lime cocktail.) A bit of upselling (I asked for a wine rec. under $40 and he recommended a $48; much suggesting of additional dishes).

The food was really very good. I was happy that it was family style, although our party made it pretty much impossible to do anything fun and interesting (one vegan, one non-fish-eater, one lowfat vegetarian, and three genuine omnivores). Among the appetizers, the salt & pepper calimari stood out for their tenderness and delicious, light cilantro emulsion. The Da Nang beef rolls were solid, and the shrimp cupcakes were delicate but a little starchy and bland. The papaya salad was fine, but not as flavorful and interesting as Ruen Pair's (in Albany/Berkeley). Among the entrees, my favorites were the Tamarine prawns (just exquisite, with Tamarine's utterly delicious signature sauce) and the lemongrass bass, which was melt-in-your mouth tender.

The Chilean syrah our waiter suggested was a good pairing for our food (unfortunately, I've forgotten the name). A good balance of acidity and fruit; although I usually like beer with Vietnamese, this was a nice change of pace for me.

My only "complaint" is that the whole affair is a bit high-concept and precious. I became afraid (very afraid) when the waiter offered to explain the "inspiration" behind the menu, but the food ultimately spoke for itself. The waiters dress like Zen pirates, and the hostesses wear these backless wraps that are more appropriate to fan dancers than wait staff. But then again, I'm a curmudgeon.

Overall, I'd say the food is worthy of Tamarine, Bong Su's sister restaurant in Palo Alto, although I prefer the more subdued, food-focused atmosphere at Tamarine.

At $300 for six, including tip (with almost $100 of that being wine), I'd say it was a good value, too.

Recs. for a great meal on short notice?

Of course, OpenTable! <slaps forehead> Oooh, I had never heard of Bong Su. I've been to Tamarine and really loved it. I snagged a reservation. Thanks so much!!

Recs. for a great meal on short notice?

Help! My sister is in town for her birthday and I wanted to take her somewhere special on Saturday evening. Because of our schedule I need a reservation for 6 between 7 and 8. I had intended to take her to Aziza, Slanted Door, Range, or Kokkari, but I ... I ... I just plain forgot to make the reservation. Now of course all of the above are booked up, and I could just poke my eyes out.

I throw myself upon the helpful folks here. Any recommendations for similarly good places to those above that might be able to squeeze in 6 at 7:30 on a Saturday night? I know, a tall order. We could go anywhere in SF, or Berkeley (maybe slightly later--say, 8 p.m. in Berkeley).

My sister likes fun places with reasonably adventurous menus beyond the usual French & Italian fare; cocktails a plus. She adored Aziza and wanted to go back. I've also taken her to Fonda on Solano, which was a big hit (mostly for the cocktails). It would need to be not too expensive (i.e., in Aziza range, not Coi range).

Thanks so much for any advice!