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Comments on restaurant choices please

  • j

Hi San Francisco chowhounds!

Will be visiting from 7/17 through 7/20. Read lots of your postings for the past several months for some dining ideas. I've selected the following for dinners and would appreciate your input/alternatives:

Thai: Thep Phanom - Many good posts and comments from other sources on this place

Italian: Pane e Vino - Reasonably priced, authentic based on my sources.

Bistro French: Fringale - Small, good value, romantic and good chow. Read Limster prefers Chapeau's. Can I go wrong with either?

One open night. Prefer seafood maybe with California accent. Ideas? What about Hayes St Grill?

Lunches will be ad lib based on where we happen to be at the time. Any don't miss lunch places? Will try to get some Dim Sum, thinking Yank Sing?

Will report back with our comments when we return from vacation. Thanks for your help.

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  1. I actually think that Chapeau and and Fringale are about the same overall. Chapeau has an excellent wine list, and from a dinner 2 years ago, I think Fringale has better food. Just to stir things up a bit, Clementine is also decent choice, and we've also heard good things about Plouf on this board.

    As someone mentioned recently on this board, Fringale's tables are fairly closely packed, which means you might inadvertantly overhear lots of conversation from other tables.

    I'm a fan of Thep Phanom, and I'd suggest checking out their specials written on the whiteboard when you're there. I landed a really nice crab roll from the specials list.

    Hayes Street Grill is good for straightforward fuss-free fish. The preparation is very simple (usually grilled) and you get to choose your sauce. I like the place. But if you're out for something more "complicated" and fusiony, House on 9th Ave is a good place for fish from an East-West fusion kitchen. Farallon is also a grat place for this kind of fancy stuff, but it's pricey.

    Love to hear about Pane e Vino -it's been on my list after a friend told me about it, but I've never been there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Limster

      About Pane e Vino...
      Fills up with neighborhood folks, so try to make a reservation. I've had wonderful experiences and I've had experiences that makes me feel like I overpaid.
      I think alot of it had to do with the waiter. One was excellent, spending time pointing out his favorites. One seemed as if he had better things to do.
      The food varied as well. One time the antipasto was great, each ingredient standing on it's own. Another time, it seemed bare and the flavors were bland.
      I enjoyed the traditional Florentine style bisteeka, and great profiteroles.

    2. I have been to Fringale and Chapeau twice and Clementine once in the last six months, so I figured I would offer up my opinion on the three.

      They are all very good. I would probably go with Chapeau first, although it is quite cramped and can be very noisy. Decor is simple but clean, with yellow walls. Chapeau has wonderful service and a great wine list. The owner is wine buff and on both occasions we have brought wines and offered him a taste. Great by the glass selection and good stemware. I highly recommend the cassoulet and french onion soup.

      My one visit to Clementine was very positive. It is right around the corner from my apartment so I always seem to forget about it but I have been meaning to go back. Overall the nicest decor and the most room between tables. The service was not as polished as Chapeau but the effort was there. The food was excellent and reasonably priced (great quail and tilapia with red beet risotto). Can't recall the wine list as we brought our own. Slightly less expensive then Chapeau as I recall.

      Fringale would be my third choice, the only one I am in no hurry to return to. Both of my meals there have been good but I find the service to be a bit lacking. Not a French bistro, more basque. Tables are very close together but it is not as loud as Chapeau. Excellent prosciutto and manchego terrine and veal wrapped in proscuitto. One warning, the wines offered by the glass are putrid.

      I don't think you can go wrong with any of the three but I think Chapeau is a can't miss. The web sites for Fringale and Chapeau are below.

      http://fringale.citysearch.com/1.html
      http://bistrochapeau.citysearch.com/3...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mike Wenzel

        Mike, thanks for posting a great comparison. Tried to get a reservation for dinner tonight at Chapeau or Clementine, but no go. Bastille Day, duh!

      2. A SF don't miss lunch place is Sam's Grill in the 300 block of Bush St, not far from Union Square. Get the Sand Dabs, an "only in SF" dish. Not so crowded if you go after the lunch rush.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Jim H.
          s
          S. B. Cochran

          Definitely concur with choice of Sam's - "A SF treat!"
          Info:
          Sam's Grill and Seafood Restaurant - 374 Bush - 415/421-0594 -

          Also their grilled rex and petrale sole dusted with paprika and served with tartar sauce, seafood salads, FANTASTIC fried eggplant, asparagus in mustard sauce - Open ONLY weekdays for L til 2030h; D with same menu - Since 1867 - No reservations or credit cards

          1. re: S. B. Cochran

            Unless there's been a recent change, Sam's accepts credit cards. No reservations though. Perhaps you're thinking of Tadich which only started taking plastic in the the last couple years.

            Here's a link to a comment from a recent SF visitor.

            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Anyone who thinks the prices at Sam's are "outrageous" must think fine dining is a Big Mac. Try some of the really trendy places. As for oysters, there is a good reason for the 300 year old rule, no oysters unless there is an "r" in the months. The so-called experts (anxious to sell oysters all year long) tell us that the rule is nonsense. I grew up on Chesapeake Bay and my family owned a seafood restaurant. I have been cooking and eating oysters for over 60 years. They spawn in the summer...they are milky and have an offensive bitter taste. Also, you may get sick if you eat them and your digestion can't handle the toxins. But go ahead...eat them in the summer, and complain about "bad" oysters. I do blame the suppliers and restaurants, who do not respect this ancient rule.

              1. re: Jim H.

                Friends from Toronto are visiting this week. They found Sam's on their own. They really liked the calamari, said the bread was really good, and were disappointed that the wine list was only California vino.

                We drove by there tonight after a lovely dinner in North Beach at Da Flora. Thought we'd check out the Bastille Day celebrations on Belden Alley, but thought better of it when we saw the crowds. It's wall to wall humanity in Belden Alley (Plouf, Cafe Bastille, etc.) spilling out onto Bush and Pine, and up the street at Cafe de la Presse, Le Central, and the alley behind Cafe Claude. Police are out in force with barricades to try to contain the crowds.

                Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  After splurging at Galette on Fillmore (got cider, mussels, an excellent crepe filled with a cream sauce and oyster mushrooms plus thick juicy cuts of duck breast with rinds of fat) I went downtown and ran the Belden Lane gauntlet with a buddy, going from one end to the next, and even spotted some friends in the process. I was hoping to wind down at Cafe Claude with a glass of wine, but they were still packed. Ended up at the Metreon and killed time before our movie at Montage with coffee and dessert (not bad orange chocolate macadamia nut cake that was somewhat brownie-like served with a scoop of honey ice cream).

                  1. re: Limster

                    What time were you there? We cruised by around 11pm. This may be the closest I've come to a Limster sighting to date. (g)

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      We were there earlier around 8ish, and the crowd was quite formidable. Glad we got mussels at Galette instead of trying for the packed to the gills Plouf.

              2. re: Melanie Wong
                s
                S. B. Cochran

                Thanks for the update on the plastique....Enjoy.

              3. re: S. B. Cochran
                k
                Kirsten Armstrong

                My family has lived in Tiburon since 1986 and the consensus among my friends here has always been - Go to Sam's for the drinks, the sun, the beautiful people, the partying after Friday Night Races (hosted by Corinthian yacht club), Opening Day, etc...but not for the best food in town.

                Guaymas has fantastic, authentic Mexican. Haven't ever had anything else like it in the area.

                Servinos was amazing when it was tucked into Ark row. It's still family owned, but I haven't gone much since it moved into the huge space formerly occupied by Tutto Mare(where I used to waitress and had the worst job experience ever aside from meeting my boyrfriend).

                Wayside Pizza is owned by local brother-sister sailing duo Melissa and Tom Purdy and is absolutely scrumptious.

                My parents adore Rooneys...French Bistro style and intimate.

                Just down Main Street from Sam's is Sweden House Bakery...another institution with fantastic hot chocolate, baked goods, and a little deck on the water.

                I've never gone to Caprice, above Elephant Rock, but I hear it's extra pricey and they use a lot of garlic (which wouldn't necessarily bother me).

                Dave & Mike's, a little further down Tiburon Boulevard, across from the fire station, advertises as "The adult daycare center" and is very popular with it's regular guys.

                Paradise Ice Cream replaced Uncle's back in the 80's and you can almost always find Frank DeSimone happily scooping it out for the local kids. His son, Anthony (who acted in the Virgin Suicides), must be well into highschool now...but Frank's always made Paradise a welcome spot for the local 8-14 year olds and their various choices of transportation. I think Frank's brother owns Just Desserts, but I may be mistaken.

                On the way out of town if you came by car, stop at Cove Shopping Center and visit Milano's for great Italian. They recently renovated and added a wine shop next door...so I imagine their vino offerings have grown extensively.

                I'm sure I've forgotten a lot, but this should give anyone who wants to take the ferry over plenty to chew on....

                1. re: Kirsten Armstrong

                  One clarifying note, this thread was discussing Sam's in San Francisco, whereas Kirsten's post comments on Sam's in Tiburon. The restaurants are not related. Both are worthy of discussion, but don't expect sun and outdoor dining at Sam's in San Francisco!