one night in sf - where to?
i will be in san francisco for one night next weekend and want to experience the best of what it has to offer. i've never had haute cuisine in sf before and am looking for someplace with an inventive menu and young, hip atmosphere. could someone recommend their favorite place? would boulevard be worth it (i noticed that thread about how it's overrated)?
Well if its inventive menu, then boulevard is your choice. Their menu changes frequently and their food is always creative and good. Also, I did experience a terrble service the second time i went (during one of the peak dining hours this restaurant gets packed). My second visit did seem some what overrated because the food and service seems to have gone down a bit.
But if you are still shaky about boulevard, there are other choices in the neighborhood that would give you a taste of sf. Maybe you can try Hawthorne Lane. I have been there twice and their food is very good. Although not what you would consider young and hip atmosphere, the area surrounding this restaurant is definitely young and hip. If young and hip atmosphere is what you are looking for more than culinary treat, XYZ in the W hotel is definitely that. Their food is ok but not as good as a lot of places around the area. But the crowd thats always hanging around the bar is always there. Thats just some stuff i can come up with on top of my head. Whatever your choice is, i still hope you have a nice time.
I agree with one of the poster, XYZ is definitly young and hip. The food we had there was excellent as well, although it can be a bit hit or miss. Boulevard is not young and hip, but it's a place with a nize buzz. I think it gets a bad rating sometimes because they change the menu so often. If it happens to be what you like, you are in luck. The many times that my husband and I went, we throughly enjoyed it.
If you are looking for something that's almost haute cuisine but also quite hip and young, try Lapis on Embacadero and Bay. The menu has really shaped up in the past year, and they have a pretty cool bar.
re: Wendy Lai
I agree!!! I had dinner at Lapis last weekend and it was sooo good. The service was great! She was very knowledgeable and was able to describe the dishes in great detail. The sommalier was also very helpful and suggested a wine that I love!
I haven't been that satisfied with SF service in years. Normally you have to go to the top 5 restaurants to get the service I received at Lapis.
Some insight into the improvements at Lapis:
1 - Thomas Ricci (Executive Chef) spent a month in Dubai opening a restaurant and came back with a number of new ideas for his cooking. I could kill him for taking away my favorite dishes - but the new ones he's come up with have been a huge hit.
2 - A new manager (Robert) took over in July and has really brought some great energy to the place. A lot of the staff have been there since the opening months (Jan, 2000), so the fresh blood and insight is good.
The owners, Seifi and Sheila Zaki just had their first baby, but I'm not sure that it affected the food or service!
I second the Hawthorne Lane suggestions; HL is is good at creative fusiony dishes; they also have excellent desserts. (I wish I could send you to Elka's, a former favorite, but it went out of business.)
For stylistic and inventive influences from South America, I'd suggest Destino, on Market between Valencia and Guerrero. It's a wonderful alternative to the usual Asian and Western fusion. It has great food, fun bustling atmosphere and is rather inexpensive when one considers the quality. Definitely a younger, livelier crowd than HL.
If you want something more firmly planted in California, Universal Cafe is a good choice: loud energetic dining room, hip urban crowd and fantastic Californian cuisine - pretty much what you're looking for. Also not too far from the Mission neighborhood, where you can hang out for drinks aftewards.
If you're really adventurous and want to make the most of your one night, you could have drinks at one place, eat at another and go for desserts at a third.
Or you could try tapas hopping (which I was told is what folks do in Spain), grazing at a few small plates from one tapas place to another, and having a few beers along the way. There's a decent concentration of places with small plates in the Mission or the Marina to make such a hop possible and worthwhile in these neighborhoods.
For hip Japanese try Ozumo - just opened. For something very different try Kokkari - not necessarily young, but really awesome food. For intimate and great food go to Plumpjack, which is more fun with a couple. Foreign Cinema just fired its chef and hired a new couple - very hip. Butterfly was hip, but the chef got canned or left, so who knows, and they were hip to being disgusting. Hot is still Rose Pistola. Lulu too. Azie and Ponzu both hot one the Asian. IF you do Plumpjack try the lemon souffle, which is the best I have ever had.
The hottest new spot in town is still Baccar. The slanted door for food is a better buy and I think better food. Maya for Mexican. Globe for the late night stuff (all the cooks congregate there after 11:00)
Not hip at all, but pay too much for a glass of wine and the view at the Carnelian room.
Bruno's (Foreign Cinema People) across the street from the FC is a jazz club weekend nights. Gordon's House of Fine Eats serves really good straight forward food.'
Jardiniere for very hip and good. Elka was weird. Bizou for solid French or Frangale or Pastis for a neat brasserie. Danko, Fifth Floor and Fleur de Lys are the top three also pricewise but worth it.
You didn't really think there was a single best restaurant in San Francisco, did you?
Just belatedly read this post and was curious about the use of the term "haute cuisine," which has always had a very specific defintion in my experience. Do most of you Chowhounds now use it as a generic term for fancy food, rather than for a menu of dishes from the established, long-recognized repertoire of true French "haute cuisine"?
Bring me up to date, please!