3853 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
Baywolf opened in 1975 on Piedmont Avenue. The dedicated owners and staff go way out of their way to make you feel welcomed and comfortable. With a definite European influence, the menu features many classics with a lighter contemporary feel. Baywolf makes the most of local, seasonal ingredients. The creative and distinctive menu changes often, taking advantage of northern California’s bounty of seasonal products. You will find such creative offerings as roasted cauliflower soup, squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta, smoked trout with avocado, melon salad with feta and mint or housemade sausage with slow-cooked peppers over orecchiette. Looking for something more substantial? Try the pan-seared lingcod with couscous and summer vegetables or the chicken breast and crépinette with garlic mashed potatoes, olives and marinated artichokes. And of course, the fresh Caesar salad is made at the table to be enjoyed before your main dish.
Binh Minh Quan
338 12th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
You get a good feeling as soon as you walk in the door of Binh Minh Quan. Live bamboo and the peaceful sound of running water greet you when you step in the door, a marked contrast from the urban hurley-burley outside. Its extensive menu is vegan and vegetarian friendly, but the dedicated carnivore need not fear of going hungry here. The Vietnamese pancakes/crepes are a delight and are assembled at your table. Also try the make-it-yourself spring rolls.
2130 Center St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
This is a thoroughly charming restaurant and very much a part of the Berkeley scene. If you’re looking for authenticity mixed with a fantasy/zen/yuppie/hippie experience, you’ve found it, and hey – the food is good as well. You enter into a tranquil setting, tastefully designed with appropriate music, all meant set the mood for an enjoyable dining experience. You may choose to dine in one of the elevated cubbies where you sit on the floor at low tables or you may enjoy your meal prepared tableside on a hibachi grill. The only downside to this excellent establishment is that its beautifully designed website tells you absolutely nothing. Stop in to get your information.
Bistro Maxine Creperie Café
548 Ramona St.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
If crêpes are your thing, you don’t have to travel to France. Authentic crêpes are alive and well in Palo Alto at Bistro Maxine. With an extensive menu of both savory and sweet crêpes, you’re sure to find something to suit your fancy. The crêpes are made with both traditional batter and buckwheat. Looking for more than crêpes? Try the French onion soup and other seasonal soups, the satisfying baguette sandwiches and the traditional crôque-monsieur – a pretentious name for a toasted cheese sandwich. You can enjoy the unique experience of crêpes suzette made and flamed tableside.
Alfred’s Steak House
659 Merchant St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
This is not the place for a vegetarian or vegan. This is most definitely the carnivores’ haven featuring well-aged, grass-fed beef served up with exquisite old school style of care and elegance. Not into beef? How about salmon, chicken, lamb or lobster? Alfred’s doesn’t think of tableside preparation as something fancy or trendy. It’s just the way this restaurant works. Some meats are traditionally cut from the whole joint before your eyes and the Caesar salad is made at your table.
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Geraldine Duncann is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.