Non Trust Busting Reccos for SF weekend dining
Spending our anniversary weekend in SF, and looking for some good choices for dinner. Checked out Gary Danko website - ouch! Wine prices a bit out of my league.
Any reccos for a place with an imaginative menu, and a wine list that won't break the bank?
I second the Defina recommendation. It's a great place, albeit a bit loud. If you can't get reservations (unlikely given the current economic climate), I would look into the following for dining along the more imaginative side:
Cosmopolitan Cafe - there is an appetizer trio of the day where the chef takes 1 ingredient and makes 3 tiny items (kinda like a mini iron chef), does the same for dessert, except that chocolate is almost always the dessert ingredient of the day.
Several of us liked Cobalt Tavern in North Beach, so I would recommend that too.
House on 9th Ave (in the Inner Sunset) has good East-West fusion, especially the fish dishes.
Plumpjack Cafe has a good californian menu and an excellent wine list (wine is sold at retail prices - no markup). I really liked it when I was there, but they just got a new chef - James Ormsby, formerly of Bruno's and Red Herring. Might want to check up older reviews of these places to see if you like Ormsby's style.
For something a little less common, I would suggest Maki, a Japanese place with an lovely array of beautifully cooked dishes. It's located in Japantown. I spent about $30 there for dinner and left very happy.
If you're into Japanese and want to stretch a bit, get a 7 course kaiseiki dinner at Kyoya - you might need to preorder that. We had that for $60 per person once (no tax or tip), and that included sake. More courses than gary danko at a lower price.
Try Delfina. We had a wonderful meal there last week. Not Gary Danko-type, but a good value for SF. Entrees under $20, appetizers under $10.
The service was fabulous - one of our party had to eat and run to get to work and the waiter (and kitchen) had no problem pushing his meal through while letting the rest of us take our time. Wine prices seemed reasonable and the food was outstanding - I wanted to order everything on the menu (and between 6 of us we ordered a lot of it).
Seasonal Italian-California type food - roast chicken, local halibut, tuna with beans and a tomato vinegrette, squash blossoms with ricotta and a nice rendition of the molten chocolate cake for dessert. It's definately been added to our list of celebration restaurants!