8th and Market dining
My 14 yr old daughter and I will be going to a show at the Orpheum theater and staying nearby.
I am debating over dining at Jardiniere,Zuni cafe,
Le Charm or Fringale. If there are other possibilities in the area what would you reccomend?
As you can surmise I am not cuisine limited.
I'd pick Fringale over Le Charm if price isn't a matter (looks like it's not since you're listing Jardiniere and Zuni). Their pork tenderloin with apples and cabbage is one of the best renditions of pork I've had in SF.
I suspect that since Jardiniere and Zuni are closer to the Symphony etc... that they might be more experienced at getting diners out by a particular time so that they'll be on time for their concert. If you're eating there before the performance, things might be a bit more under control as far as timing is concerned.
If you're thinking about somewhere to go after the show, Absinthe on Hayes and Gough makes for a nice dessert stop. Their appetizers and entrees are not particularly impressive, but they are open late and offer very good desserts (try the lavender creme brulee) and a rich and comfortable atmosphere.
For an afternoon tea, I'm a big fan of Citizen Cake, also in that neighborhood.
Since you're willing to venture as far south of Market as Le Charm or Fringale, I'd also suggest Hawthorne Lane, which is slightly closer to the Orpheum than either of these two French places. Service there is excellent (I go there if I want to be coddled) and desserts are stellar. It the only place I know of with 2 pastry chefs.
I've also heard good things about Bizou, another French place with is a block or two away from Fringale, but I've never been there myself.
For something a little different, a kaiseiki dinner (a seasonal Japanese tasting menu) at Kyoya is pricey but worth it (it was $60 a person including a drink of sake). You will probably need to call ahead to get this arranged.
Cosmopolitan Cafe is slightly further east, near the Embacardero (it's at the Rincon Center on Spear Street) and is also excellent. The kitchen likes to "show off" with a trio of appetizers that utilizes a single ingredient made 3 ways. The ingredient changes daily. (It was duck when I was there and 2 out of the 3 were fantastic.) There's also a trio of chocolate desserts that change almost daily. It's a lively place, with live jazz on the weekends.
I'm not a native, just a visitor (twice in the last 6 months), who has stayed in the area of 8th and Market.
Here are some limited reports:
--Le Charme: Small and Intimate--maybe less of a 'scene' that a 14 year old might enjoy. Once you walk in, its just like being in Paris--closely spaced tables (seats about 60), semi-open kitchen and a lovely outdoor seating area to the rear. The $25 3 course prix fixe is very nice, and the wine list reasonable. I can't imagine they would have a problem either accommodating your early reservation, or getting you out in time for the show. On a rainy Thu nite at 8:00 PM, it took about 5 minutes to get a taxi. The Thu night we were there, it was just about all locals, nary a tourist in sight. Definitely make a reservation.
--Zuni: I didn't go myself, but some of our party (accompanied by local relatives) went. They were way less than impressed, and thought it way over priced. But they didn't order the roast chicken that other posters here have insisted is the thing to get.
General Comment: Walking around the 8th and market area is a little scary due to the abundance of homeless and panhandlers. I don't think its dangerous, just not fun. I can report that walking from Le Charme along 5th St up to Market is quite safe.
Let us know the outcome!
As one of the readers pointed out below, check out Bizou (4th and Brannan). Great French bistro fare, wine list is inexpensive, but corkage is very cheap as well. The Beef cheeks, scallops, and the Catalan chicken were all great entrees, and the mussels and foie gras were great appetizers. The only salad we tried was the aspargus, but it was good as well.