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Dining with Little Kids at Eccolo (Berkeley)

Melanie Wong | Nov 14, 200405:51 PM

Our food-obsessed friends from Toronto came back this summer. Their return visit presented us the challenge again of finding a wine-friendly, typically Californian, culinarily interesting for adults, and an accommodating of tiny tots kind of place for dinner. Last year Chez Panisse Café worked out beautifully. This time we took them to the East Bay restaurant of the moment, Eccolo. Spencer, who works for a local wine merchant and had hosted a trade event here earlier, made the booking for our group.

We had a six o’clock reservation on a Sunday night that the restaurant was fully booked. With eight adults, two little guys, and one babe in arms, we were seated at the rustic table in the center of the room. Several customers without reservations were turned away at the door, and I was expecting some pressure to turn our table. But the staff didn’t seem concerned and we stayed until closing.

With individual chairs rather than CPC’s benches, the boys couldn’t put their heads down. But the children had taken naps that afternoon and were bright-eyed and engaged all evening. Besides having plenty of room to spread out, an unexpected advantage of the big table was the amount of play space UNDER the table and out of the way. The boys could play with the toy pirates’ chests underneath between bites, as well as scoot around to pop up in the next adult lap for a hug. We took advantage of the elbow room to pass the wriggly four-month-old Fraya back and forth and the grownups could shift seats easily for different conversation groupings. With all our moving around, I failed to spot Michael Bauer in the house, and was surprised when our server mentioned that he had been in that night. While there was a lot of activity and commotion at our table, the other diners were far enough away that we didn’t impact them.

In the picture below, Max is on the right looking through his improvised telescope along with his mom, Rachel. Fraya and Jacob are on the left with their mom, Sarah. The link below has a picture from last year.



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