Check, Please! Bay Area Season 4: Episode 5 (405)

Check, Please! Bay Area’s fourth season episode 5 (#405) profiles and reviews these three Bay Area restaurants:

1) Indian Palace Restaurant: | restaurant information | reviews |

2) Thanh Long Restaurant: | restaurant information | reviews |

3) Oliveto Café and Restaurant: | restaurant information | reviews |

Other ways to watch the episode online (and on video iPod):
Download episode (requires iTunes or QuickTime)
Subscribe to Video Podcast

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leslie sbroccoMy name is Leslie Sbrocco and I’m the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I will be sharing my tasting notes about the wine the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.

Wines of the Week: KQED Wine Club
Our guests enjoyed these two delicious offerings from the KQED Wine Club. Tonight’s wines showcase lively Latin spirit from both South America and Italy. Join the club!

Familia Zuccardi “Alma 4″ Sparkling Wine, Mendoza, Argentina
Made with a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this delicious bubbly is crisp and refreshing, yet offers full-bodied fruitiness. Sip alongside a bowl of popcorn drizzled with truffle oil for a weekend treat.

2005 Ca’ Viola “Brichet” Barbera D’Alba, Italy
Barbera is the workhorse grape of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. It produces easy-drinking yet hearty reds worthy of the dinner table. This one wraps lush, dark berry flavors with a kick of acidity to help wake up your palate and prep it for food.

Special Wine
2007 Signorello Vineyards “Seta” Napa Valley, California
A Bordeaux-style blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes that is kissed with spiced aromas and a touch of sweet fruit flavors. It’s elegant enough to sip alone, but will show its true style when paired with fleshy fish, scallops, and fresh cheeses.

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  • Joseph Anderson, Berkeley, CA

    I just got finish watching the Check Please program that included the very upscale Oliveto restaurant in Oakland. (Apparently, it’s a re-broadcast.)

    I live in Berkeley, in Elmwood, next to the upscale, fashionable, Rockridge district of Oakland, centered on College Avenue, where Oliveto is located, catercornered across from the Rockridge BART station. I can walk to Oliveto, and I commonly walk down College Avenue, from Elmwood, to that part of Rockridge from where I live in Berkeley.

    I don’t remember the food I’m sure it was satisfactory. But, whatever it was like, it ultimately left ‘a bad taste’ in my mouth. I don’t remember the food, probably because my dinner companion and I were kept waiting the better part of *45-60* MINUTES for our table reservation. We weren’t offered so much as a complementary glass of wine each, not anything to drink, nor a single complementary appetizer to hold us over and for the inconvenient wait. And not a single explanation for the delinquent, long wait. Really, the whole service experience was just delinquently, however unconsciously, rude. I shouldn’t have left a tip (I hope I didn’t leave 20% or even 15%), but politeness unavoidably compells me, and I’m sure that I didn’t want to take the delinquent ‘front-desk/management’ lack of service out on the waiter him-/herself.

    I would have left. I wondered if someone who might have had a baby sitter back at home, someone expected back home at a particular time, they might have lost their entire evening, for nothing, not being able to stay. I was only able to stay because I had no baby or little kids back at home, and because my schedule was just too jammed up then, to just walk out much sooner (say, after 15-20 minutes) and perhaps reschedule later, if I cared to at all again. This was several years ago — and, because of the wait, I haven’t been back since (and I also have academic/other friends who come into town on nice expense accounts, so I could afford to go there, additionally, somewhat regularly if I wanted to take us there).

    It’s ‘funny’ and ironic, because my reservations were either at 8:pm or 8:30 pm (I forgot which, over the years since then) and someone from Oliveto called me the previous day to see if I could come in at 8:15pm sharp! I thought, gee, if they’re going to be that precise about the reservation — right down to the stroke of the quarter hour — then they Oliveto must run a very tight ship. Far from it. And like one woman on the Check Please show said about the impersonal service, we still had to wait about 15-20 minutes to get any service!

    What this shows is that fancy, even rather expensive, big name restaurants don’t always guarantee you great service (whether or not they, likewise, always guarantee you great food). In fact, big name restaurants can be blithely aloof (or perhaps even arrogant) about taking care of you (unless they know that you’re some rich, regular customer — like George Carlin who used to be a regular there when he came to the Bay Area). I’d rather go to an upscale (if not quite as fancy or expensive), but less aloof (or arrogant) place that tries harder to treat you properly because they *are* concerned about the individual customer and not just sliding by (on either service and/or cuisine) on their big name and snob appeal.

    For more on that negative, see my Check Please review of Tadich Grill, another restuarant that I will never set foot in again (just put “joseph anderson”+”check please” into any internet search box) for a dinner that ended in truly service horror (after a sizeable bill for 3 and leaving an appropriately sizeable tip, which I wish I had had the then immediate wherewithal to have taken back, having been caught off-guard): our waiter’s cockyness wasn’t just upscale-chic! I guess that that’s my *lesson* for going to a place that *only* has old/er white men (Tadich’s “old-San Francisco tradition”) for waiters. (My Tadich Grill review is under the “Check Please”, La Folie show review.)

    Now I’ve gone to the likes of Farralon, Domaine, Auberge, and Tre Vigne, so I get around, culinarily speaking, in addition to lots of (even very) moderately priced (like the beautiful Becky’s Chinese Restaurant, and actually it’s decor is more interesting than Oliveto, in Rockridge across and just south of Oliveto), and even very inexpensive restuarants (like the atmospherically very cheery House of Curry in the Elmwood district of Berkeley on College Ave), and have received great food and great, friendly service, but _expensive restaurants are by no means necessarily a guarantee of either_!