We're going to have a family birthday party in a couple of weeks; we went to Chez Panisse about 13 years ago and liked it (it was a Monday, their least expensive night; this time will be a Wednesday). I've also heard that Quince is good. I gather both places should be calm enough to hear ourselves talk, at least on a week night (no hard liquor at either one.)
Which is the best bet? I read that Alice Waters is on leave from Chez Panisse - has this affected the food or the service?
Any similar places that come to mind as being better than either one but in the same price range?