Where to Eat on New Year's 

Our annual guide to New Year's dining.

To its usual Mediterranean-inspired small-plate menu — which features, among other bold moves, wild-boar salami — À Côté is adding a few higher-end items including grilled lobster Thermidor and rib-eye steak. "It's pretty festive in here," we are promised, as "there tends to be dancing on the bar around midnight. And we won't close until the party's over." 510-655-6469; 5478 College Ave., Oakland, ACoteRestaurant.com

Free parking and three separate seatings — at 5/5:30 p.m., 7/7:30 p.m., and 9:30/10 p.m. — will keep the flow going at B Restaurant, whose menu will feature entrées such as oxtail-and-scallops "surf & turf" with cauliflower puree, rack of lamb and braised kale, and block-cut rib eye with white truffles and wood-oven-roasted rosemary potatoes. 510-251-8770; 499 Ninth St., Oakland, BOakland.com

Bay Wolf always serves duck on New Year's Eve, so why mess with a good thing? A $95 multicourse dinner offers diverse choices amid "very festive" holiday decor and extended hours: They'll seat diners until 10:30 p.m. 510-655-6004; 3853 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, BayWolf.com

A $95 four-course prix-fixe dinner awaits those who choose Bing Crosby's 5-5:30 p.m. and 7-7:30 p.m. seatings. But it's a $125, five-course meal with complimentary midnight champagne toast for those who choose the evening's final 9-9:30 p.m. seating — and you get to keep your champagne flute and party favors. As lavish as the retro 1930s country-club/holiday decor is the menu, whose options include seared foie gras, ahi-tuna tartare with avocado mousse, wild-mushroom turnovers, lobster risotto, champagne-citrus salad, champagne sorbet with pomegranate syrup, pistachio-fig cake, and many more. 925-939-2464; 1342 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek, BingCrosbysRestaurant.com

Casually elegant Bridges Restaurant and Bar, immortalized as the setting of a hilarious dinner scene in Mrs. Doubtfire, is offering a four-course prix-fixe dinner for $85. 925-820-7200; 44 Church St., Danville, BridgesDanville.com

Offering an innovative Italian menu with specials that change daily, Bucci's will offer "more special specials" and the arty, airy, lofty space will be decorated in "an even more festive manner than usual." It will also stay open later than usual, serving dinner until 10:30 p.m., and will take reservations — which it usually doesn't. 510-547-4725; 6121 Hollis St., Emeryville, Buccis.com

New Year's Eve is always "a big night for us" at Casa Orinda, where thousands of multicolored balloons and streamers further enhance the charm of a cherished favorite whose 75-year history gives it a Wild West ambience any day of the year. They'll serve their standard menu, along with a few specials, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. 925-254-2981; 20 Bryant Way, Orinda.

Opening a bit earlier than usual and decorated to the hilt, Chez Panisse will offer a more-elaborate-than-usual prix-fixe dinner in the downstairs restaurant. Upstairs at the cafe, live music augments an à la carte menu. 510-548-5525; 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, ChezPanisse.com

Vegetarian specialties are among many options in the five-course $100 prix-fixe menu at Citron. 510-653-5484; 5484 College Ave., Oakland, CitronRestaurant.com

The "Demised Fish of the Day" and "Other Dead Things" — in other words, the regular fresh-seafood menu — is on offer at the Dead Fish, where you can await 2008 with a magnificent view of the Carquinez Strait and bridge. 510-787-3323; 20050 San Pablo Ave., Crockett, TheDeadFish.com

Keep the roads safe by dining at balloon-festooned Downtown, a block from Downtown Berkeley BART, where seating for a $48 three-course prix-fixe meal begins at 5:30 p.m. and seating for an $85 four-course meal begins at 8:30 p.m. A pianist will entertain diners during the first seating. During the latter, party favors, midnight champagne, dancing, and a live band crank up the atmosphere. 510-649-3810; 2102 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, DowntownRestaurant.com

A $325-per-couple overnight ballroom package created by Faz Pleasanton in conjunction with the Four Points Hotel by Sheraton includes a deluxe room for two, hors d'oeuvres, all-night open bar, buffet dinner, party favors, midnight champagne toast, and DJs with dancing until 1 a.m. Party favors and a midnight champagne toast are included. Sans hotel room, the package is available for $225 per couple, $113 per person. 925-460-0434; 5121 Hopyard Road, Pleasanton, FazRestaurants.com

Although Eccolo will close for lunch, it will stay open late for dinner: from 6 to 10 p.m. Made with organic and locally grown ingredients, a four-course menu — $110 with wine pairings, $75 without — displays chef Christopher Lee's best with tantalizers like green garlic soufflé with artichokes and wild nettles; shellfish soup with scallops; mushroom fritto with gremolata; cassoulet with duck confit, garlic sausage, and white beans; and Meyer lemon éclairs. 510-644-0444; 1820 4th St., Berkeley, Eccolo.com

Open until 12:30 a.m. as usual, Fonda will feature festive decor and its regular South-of-the-border small-dish fare. 510-559-9006; 1501 Solano Ave., Albany, FondaSolana.com

"Meat" the New Year at Forbes Mill Steakhouse, whose regular menu — heavy on the prime rib, porterhouse, and Kobe Brand steak — will be augmented with some specials. 925-552-0505; 200 Sycamore Valley West, Danville, ForbesMillSteakhouse.com

If on ordinary nights chef Scott Sasaki can whip up white-nectarine flatbread and Kobe beef tartare at Garibaldi's, then imagine what might go into his $85 multicourse prix-fixe New Year's Eve menu.510-595-4000; 5356 College Ave., Oakland, Garibaldis-EastBay.com

On the waterfront, Hs Lordships is offering special menus for $40 and $70, including appetizer, soup, entrée, and dessert, with servings at 4:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. A live blues band provides the beats. 510-843-2733; 199 Sea Wall Dr. Berkeley, HsLordships.com

Reservations are strongly recommended at Italian Colors, whose New Year's Eve à la carte menu has quite the following. Dazzlers include duck-leg confit, lobster bisque, oysters on the half-shell, gnocchi polonaise, vegetable-stuffed portobello mushrooms, braised short ribs, and filet mignon. Starters range from $8-$14, entrées $20-36. 510-482-8094; 2220 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, ItalianColorsRestaurant.com

Serving at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Lalime's has devised a $100 prix-fixe meal that comprises eight courses including rabbit terrine, roast lobster, beef tenderloin, and duck with truffles and wild mushrooms, plus sorbet and cheese plate. 510-527-9838; 1329 Gilman St., Berkeley, Lalimes.com


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