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Dec 14, 2001 07:26 PM

Any recommendation on a good French restaurant?

  • c

Anyone know any good French rest. in SF? I mean not your typical French rest. around the corner near your house. I'm talking about a nice French rest. that you would take your date there for dinner. Thanks.

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  1. La Folie [Russian Hill]; Fringale [SOMA]; South Park Cafe; there are a couple I've heard of in the Richmond, but can't remember the names...other Chow-heads will probably reply with them.

    1. You raise an interesting point. Personally, I'm not aware of any cheap French restaurants. Are there any, and especially any worth going to (in Berkeley or near BART, particularly)?

      3 Replies
      1. re: David Boyk

        a wonderful inexpensive bistro is Le Charm near Moscone. great food, great prices, not so great neighborhood.

        also in the inexpensive and good category is bistro clovis, who offers a nice pris fixe and does wine groupings as well (3 small glasses to go along with the meal)

        1. re: brad kaplan

          I second Le Charm. Very good duck confit. Very reasonable 3-course pre fix.

        2. re: David Boyk

          To answer your question about resturants in Berkeley near Bart there is Downtown and Bistro Liason. I personally would opt for Bistro Liason. I have had a good experience with the food every time I have eaten there (4 dinners 2 lunches). I have eaten at Downtown which is right off of the Shattuck Bart but would walk the extra 2 blocks for Bistro Liason.

        3. The obvious French places that have received praise for the quality of their cooking on this board are: (I hope others will chime in with more places)

          Fringale (SOMA)
          Plouf (downtown)
          Chapeau! (Richmond)
          Baker Street Bistro (Marina)
          Clementine (Richmond)
          South Park Cafe (SOMA)
          Absinthe (Civic Center)
          Bizou (SOMA)
          Foreign Cinema (Mission)

          Do a search for these - there were several threads comparing them etc... Among these, South Park Cafe is the only one I haven't been to.

          Fringale seems to have tables that are very close together, and might not be the best choice for an intimate, cozy dinner. I bet that you'll be able to hear what your neighboring tables are talking about and vice versa.

          Plouf would actually be a great option during warmer weather - they lay out tables and chairs in the alley (belden lane) and it can get warm and lively in a good mediterrenean sort of way. Isuppose they have outdoor heaters as well. Mussels are great. Start or finish with drinks at Cafe Claude, a block away, especially on weekend nights when they have live jazz (do they still have that?).

          Chapeau! has a good wine list, but again, the tables can be a bit packed. Try to get one of the tables in the front near the bay windows; that should ensure that you have more space to yourself.

          Baker St. Bistro is the most affordable of the lot and can get very busy. Again, it can be packed and you'll need to strategize about where you're sitting.

          I think Clementine has a bit more breathing space, but I haven't been back recently.

          With a more spacious setting, large windows and high ceilings, Bizou is more elegant than romantic but the country-style cooking is good and worthwhile (but not great IMHO). Possibly the pricest listed on this post.

          I think Absinthe has the best ambiance for a date - dark rich textures and dusky lighting. I love the desserts there but haven't been as impressed with the savory stuff. They just snagged the pastry chef from the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton, so my dessert assessment could change (probably for the better).

          Foreign Cinema just had a change of chefs; I suppose they should have settled in by now. It's very stylish, with outdoor seating, heaters and a movie for a backdrop. Not a bad date idea if you can time it such that the film starts rolling when dessert and coffee comes by.

          1. So many so-called French restaurants are really New American or California, it's hard to find those that are truly French.

            Almost brand-new Le Petit Robert (Polk and Green) seemed to be pretty serious about offering real French country food the one time we visited.

            From the comments I've read recently, it's not even clear if Fringale has strayed: I always thought the main reason to go there was the frisee with lardons and the confit, neither of which was mentioned, both of which epitomize southwestern France.

            Of course, Chez Panisse started out as a totally French restaurant and it always gives me pause to see it referred to as the progenitor of California Cuisine!
            Its soul remains French anyway.

            I was interrupted in writing this so don't recall if both Chapeau and Clementine were mentioned. I know no one mentioned Isa.

            The "Frenchest" food I've had in a while--and it's been a while since last I was there--was at Bistro Jeanty, which is of course not responsive since it's in Yountville, but I refer to it as a measuring stick of what I consider really French.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Fine

              We're still waiting for Jeanty at Jacks to open (in the old Jack's Sacramento location). I thought it was to be opened around now, but have not heard anything for a couple of months. Anybody hear anything??

              1. re: srf1

                Jeanty @ Jacks will open Feb 28 - phone 415/693-0941

            2. r
              recovering chef

              Hyde St. Bistro would be a suggestion. Their spinich with lardons salad is great (make sure you get the poached egg).