We are here,in Oakland, for a week and it's been so hard to choose but here's what we've done so far:
Dinner at Al's Place: Last year was our first time there and it was a huge turn on. One year later, the flavors are still quite big and bold but a lot of menu items were the same as a year ago, the wait staff not as attentive and the music was a tad too loud. I thought the chawanmushi was supposed to be warm but it was cooler than room temp???
Dinner at Great China in Berkeley: Excellent but we live in a town where there is no even decent Chinese food. We got there at 5:20 on a Monday night and there was already a line out the door. Favorite dishes were the prawns in black bean sauce and twice cooked pork. Portions very large.
Lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe: Fabulous as usual. Pasta special was with chanterelles and gremolata, very nice with perfectly cooked fresh fettucine. I had the salmon which was, again, perfectly cooked with very nice aoli, a few potatoes and gorgeous little flavor-filled tomatoes. Husband had the duck confit which was delicious.
Dinner at Pizziaolo in Oakland: Fun place, nice service, good pizza. We had 2 excellent salads one roasted eggplant and watermelon--very tasty. I loved the fired Petrale sole with aoli and fabulous fresh tomatoes.
Tonight: Zuni in SF. Will report back.