Dining experiences post COVID [ PA / MP but others welcome ]

Besides our take-out favorites, we’ve had dinner out in restaurants three times.

The mid-peninsula has quite a few open-air dining spots. Three that we’ve hit are:

  • California Ave, which has shut down to car traffic for the next few weeks. The scene was enjoyable, with the only annoyance being fast-moving bicycles among the walkers in the street. We found most restaurants and most tables full, and finally got down to Cafe Brioche, which is an old favorite, although honestly with all the upgraded food in the last decade, we don’t eat there often. The service was a bit off. As in, they forgot our entree and started serving us a small bite of desert, took 15 minutes for us to actually be able to order, they didn’t deliver our moules and our fries together, the moules were shriveled little things that had clearly spent 30 minutes under the heat lamp. They apologized profusely, and we honestly didn’t care. The clear issue was they seemed to have a family member serving who was forgetful, not to mention the longer walk to the kitchen.

  • University Ave - Bevri. Also an issue with an under trained server. Also probably part of the family, based on accent, and said she had literally never done any waiting until that night. She was perfectly find and forgot nothing and called over the main fellow when we wanted to talk wine. The kitchen has been doing a lot of takeout though, so all the dishes were as per usual. Our only annoyance was a couple at the next table who were loud and obnoxious. I thought perhaps my sensitivity was high, my partner said “no, they were obnoxious”. I think there will be re-calibrating.

  • Menlo Park - Refuge. Refuge isn’t really a dining experience, it’s their take out window with two little curbside tables. You’d call it takeout to your curb, but with nicer chairs. You don’t have to worry about getting breathed on by the next table because there’s only one and it’s 10 feet away. You’re also using your takeout “silverware” and such. Since it was right on the sidewalk, there were plenty of people doing “personal exercise” and thus breathing on us - one older woman in a wheelchair smoking a cigarette who just barreled past, inches from us. We like Refuge so much, and it was nice to have the fries fresh, so we may be back.

My understanding is Menlo Park downtown will shut to car traffic soon, probably for this coming weekend. The main drag - with left bank and others - will be fairly hopping, but it’s not as cheek-and-jowl as MV or PA. I don’t know whether Univ. Ave will be blocking off areas soon or not.

What are your stories? Where have you been?

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I was told that University Avenue are now open to the pedestrians, just like California Avenue and restaurants will operate in the streets.

If so, hopefully that will keep some of the restaurants alive as they need some seriously help. Before the recent reopening I drove by University Avenue a few times during ‘peak’ eating hours. Its pretty dead every time. Its almost painful to look.

We still haven’t dined out since SIP. Though we have been getting takeouts. Let me post about those.

Far from PA/MP, here in Annapolis MD one of our major downtown streets is closed to traffic four afternoons and evenings each week. We used to have a restaurant festival once a year and the current closures are modeled on that for sidewalk and in-street dining.

We won’t be going.

Parking is a long walk down sidewalks and people just get too close. Too many people behaving poorly for us to feel safe even at widely spaced tables.

We are eating out about once a week, out doors. Last night was Union Local on University Ave. I chose it not because I love the food (“it’s fine”) but because it has a key location right in the middle of the block. The atmosphere was good, distances were well maintained. People did walk by on the street mostly 6 feet away, and mostly with masks but maybe about 50% to 60%.

Ramen Nagi still has a half hour wait.

I was at some point trying to see if Nagi does take out. But they don’t even have a phone number. Where are people sitting at Nagi, on the street?

SF Japantown has this “Picnic at the Plaza” thing going every Sat & Sun. We were there this past Sunday. We ordered from the wrong restaurant, but the experience was fun. Will pick the food more wisely next time. https://www.rafu.com/2020/07/picnic-at-the-plaza-in-japantown/

I see this question about Nagi. You queue in a line over by the alley by PAIX, sort of around the corner, and they have a set of tables. Every time so far, still a line. Now that you’ve got me thinking of Ramen, perhaps it’ll be orenichi over in RWC for lunch today, if they’ve organized outdoor seating.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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