Where to go for dinner after our small wedding?
I'm looking to you for help. We would like to take eight guests to dinner after our very small, simple wedding at the end of the month. Four of us are vegetarians and the others are highly carnivorous, so both meat and vegetarian options are necessary.
Anywhere in SF is fine, and it would be great if we could keep it to a $20 maximum on entrees. Ideally the environment will be warm and inviting, and comfortable for a party of ten--the point of the evening will be to enjoy a good memorable meal with our closest family and friends. Please help if you can...thanks!
Caffe Riggio on Geary near 5th Avenue is a wonderful place! They have a lot of veggie options as well as enough stuff to satisfy a carnivore. The atmosphere is, as you request, warm & inviting, the prices are reasonable, and the service is exceptional. It's our absolute favorite restaurant! That's why we took our own small wedding there seven years ago, and have returned on every anniversary, and on many occasions in between.
I'll leave the restaurant up to others but I will suggest that you consider having a family style meal. Talk with the restaurant manager and tell him your budget. You could all share the soup, and /or salad and dessert. For the entree, one platter for the carnivores and one for the vegetarians. Since the group is close knit, the act of sharing the meal adds significance. Most restaurants will be willing to work with you - especially these days. Have a great meal.
re: gordon wing
Along these lines, I was thinking that a Chinese banquet of some sort (if you could get a private room or something) or perhaps a small Italian place. These cuisines might be more amendable to having an omnivorous family-style spread that would please everyone. (I'm suggesting other places too below).
I'm of thinking places that are more on the quiet side:
for Chinese, Harbor Village in the Embarcadero is competent and have private rooms. Not the best spot in town (pricey for Chinese food) but is a lot more "civilized" than most. I was just there late Sep. Some of the places in the Richmond might also work (I'm thinking Mayflower). I'm hope others will jump in and offer better suggestions along these lines as my Chinese dining repeitoire consists of mostly loud busy places or holes in the walls.
I confess to having a soft spot for La Villa Poppi in the Mission, where they charge by the course. It's very small (seats 20) and there's just a chef and a waitress and therefore quite intimate. None of that Mission hipster din. I just ate there about 2 months ago - the Californian-Italian food is simple and well cooked. Calzone was excellent with its perfect crust. Wines can be slightly pricey.
Among the more tranquil places I've eaten at is Chaz on Fillmore and Chestnut (For full disclosure, I'm a regular there and have received small freebies - see my recent post.). Again, the food is very simple but well cooked, but the the dishes and sauces are very well composed. I think they also have a private dining room. Entrees hover around $20. The wines are pricey too. The chef/owner is amendable to special requests. Earlier this year, I got him to cook up a tasting menu with 6-7 courses and 5 half glasses of matching wines - came up to $65 per person which I thought was exceptionally reasonable.
Zarzuela (Spanish tapas) on Russian Hill is a bit loud, but they do have a small room at the back that's much quieter. Ate there about 2 years ago (group of 13) and loved their tapas which should satisfy both carnivores and vegetarians. Skip the disappointing paella.
This sounds like a really important event, and my advice (wherever you decide to eat at) would be to "audition" the restaurant first by having a simple meal there. If you like the food, decor and service etc... ask to talk to the manager about the party. That way you know what you'll be getting and you could decide if it fits your style/desires etc... And that would minimize any undesirable surprises. Plus you'll get to interact face to face with the manger and/or chef.
Lastly, I totally second Gordon's idea about a family style dinner, because that will place a smaller load on the kitchen and is likely to result in better prepared food.
I was just about to suggest Chaz too. Of course, toward New year's Eve, business picks up, but I'd suggest speaking to Charles Solomon (chef/owner) about the availability of the small private room in back. Also, corkage is a reasonable $10, if memory serves, but I'd buy at lease one bottle if I could.
Limster described the food as "simple"; I consider it quite sophisticated in the best sense of the word, which, in my view, does indeed include simplicity.
I seem to recall being given the "diner's tour" when I first visited Kokkari, shortly after it opened and before it caught on. I remember a charming room downstairs, but, again, it might be booked well ahead for this time of year.
(Jack's used to have wonderful, old-fashioned upstairs rooms--used in earlier times for "gentlemen" and their female lunchmates, later for private groups. I wonder if they were renovated out of existence or whether they will return under the new ownership!)
Actually, I don't recall your saying whether or not a private room was a priority.
Re Chaz and "simplicty" - yes - you are absolutely right. My post was not as clear as it should be; what I meant what that the dishes are straightforward and easy to eat. It' "simple" in contrast to "complicated" which we often see at other "New American" places with towering foods. :)
I liked Kokkari too. Although the prices might stretch the budget a little bit, the portions were fairly generous and they do have long tables that will seat about 8-10 if I remember correctly. For some reason, Kokkari has gotten mixed reviews here, but I'm on the side of the ones who enjoyed a meal there.