Romantic Tables for Two
Make a reservation at one of the East Bay’s most romantic tables, with help from an Oakland entrepreneur.
By Cali Godley
Playing Monopoly as a kid kick-started Jay Ward’s entrepreneurial interests, so after getting sidetracked for a decade (or three) at Harvard Law School and companies like Oracle and Google, he started his own website.
The Oakland tech attorney’s passion for eating out and a keen sense of market inefficiencies led him to notice that, unlike with first-class airplane tickets, the best seat at a restaurant costs the same as the worst.
“Not all tables are created equally,” says Ward, who has taken his girlfriend to more than 200 different restaurants in the past three years. “You and I might both book a table 60 days in advance, but I get the fantastic table with the view, and you end up with the table by the bathroom.”
His site, Most Romantic Table, has partnered with a handful of mostly San Francisco restaurants that—for a small fee—will guarantee reservations for Ward’s selected table. It also lists specific table suggestions for restaurants he’s dined at in Wine Country, Lake Tahoe, and New York.
Requesting a specific table doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it, of course, but Ward believes diners can and should be proactive about asking for what they want. If you’re unfamiliar with the restaurant, tell the host in advance that you’d like a quiet table for a special occasion, Ward advises. Better yet, scope out the restaurant ahead of time, especially when you’re planning a special evening, or what Ward calls a “statement date”—when you want to explore or mark a new phase in the relationship.
Unfortunately, many couples get seduced by top-rated restaurants but end up having a disappointing—and expensive—experience. “They may not know the difference between an amuse-bouche and sous vide, but they’re after a particular experience, so they get seduced by Michelin stars. But stars typically reflect a gastronomic experience, not a romantic one,” says Ward.
It’s good advice. After all, we’re not just playing with Monopoly money. mostromantictable.com.
Here are three of Ward’s top romantic tables in the East Bay.
À Côté Restaurant
Table 1: A back corner booth with intimate lighting and À Côté’s European-inspired, small plates–focused menu is the ultimate recipe for a magical evening at this Oakland restaurant. acoterestaurant.com.
Bellanico Restaurant and Wine bar
Table 15: This window table allows you to take in Oakland’s charming Glenview neighborhood while enjoying the warm interior, always buzzing with friends and couples enjoying an original twist on Italian fare. bellanico.net.
The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards
Table 8: Tucked into a far corner of the main dining room, Table 8 offers privacy, as well as views of the Livermore restaurant’s magnificent floral arrangements and beautifully lit courtyard. wentevineyards.com.