My wife and I are visiting SF in early August. We are thinking of eating at LuLu, which is still on the SFGate.com Top 100 list. But the most recent reviews posted on CitySearch and TripAdvisor are, frankly, awful, especially as to allegedly poor, even rude, service.
Anyone eaten at LuLu recently and have any insight to share, whether this restaurant is still worth the time and money, or has it gone downhill?
My main impression of LuLu--I've eaten there 4 or 5 times over the years, last time a few months ago--is that the food is OK, not memorable, but the noise level is WAY beyond what I'm willing to put up with.
I was there yesterday. Two of us shared the skillet roasted mussels, which were pretty good, the asparagus and prosciutto pizza, which I'd rate very good, and the sand dabs, which were excellent.
Service was okay. And I'd say the sand dabs alone make dining at Lulu worthwhile.
Here's a link to my earlier post. (I hope.)
Actually, I think Lulu is in top form.
It's our favorite place to go for a bar meal of really great little pizzas and appetizers with interesting wines by the glass. If the anchovy pizza is back on the menu (a summer dish), get it. Ditto in the fall, the one with pears and prosciutto. The house-made merguez and mint is also very good.
The sand dabs are also indeed good, as is the rotisserie lamb with tapenade. They also change the menu frequently, especially re small plates, based on what's seasonally available.
We've never experienced any of the service problems (even when we bring friends and sit at a table) that some have reported. Yes it can be loud, but it seems like nearly everyplace is these days unless you go to one of the top-tier priced places or some little ethnic hole in the wall.
We ate there about two months ago and were very happy. No service problems whatsoever. No sand dabs that night but there was petrale sole and it was excellent. They have the best profiteroles in the city as far as I'm concerned.
On Mother's Day this year; the very worst day to test the merits of a restaurant - horror stories abound on this day...yet, we were seated as per our reservations, on time; our server was attentive and friendly (albeit busy to distraction) and the food was more than satisfying. My 83-yr. old mother enjoyed the roasted mussels so much that we ordered a second serving to finish the Roast Beets and the Leek, Goat Cheese & Bacon Tart— with a promise to return for a mid-week Lunch—she enjoys the "people-watching". (I will remember to order the sand dabs from Pia's post.)
Their pizzas are excellent (the prawn pizza restored my husband's faith in pizza), but pricy. From past experience, I would avoid the wood-fired/rotisserie items for dinner. They are served, at LuLu's insistence, "family style," yet the portions seem to vary widely. I've experienced comically huge portions (lunch) and embarrassingly skimpy portions (dinner). I prefer LuLu for lunch and tend to choose either a pizza or a selection of 3 antipasti. I've been there perhaps 6 or 7 times, usually for lunch, and the service has usually been gracious, but very inconsistent, with not being able to track down a server to close out a bill, get water refills, etc. This has made for at least a couple of really unreasonably long lunches.
I think Lulu is okay, but overpriced for sure. There are three places I always recommend to visitors....
Ti Couz - for awesome Britan style crepes, salads, ice tea, beer (they have great beer), and bloody mary's (they have amazing bloody mary's!).
Le Colonial - killer service, food, ambience for those who can afford it. The hoisin lamb entree is divine.
Ferry Building - a great way to spend the afternoon sampling food and wine. Lots of options to choose from.
If you're willing to head over the Bay to Berkeley the Cheeseboard has much better pizza than Lulu's, plus you can stroll the gourmet ghetto or hit one of the hundreds of cool food markets, or tour Scharffenberger Chocolate.
I've been to Lulu for lunch and dinner several times over the past 5 years and always enjoyed myself. Is is high-priced, but I they seem to care about their food, and I prefer their small plates and appetizers to the entrees. Consider also Delfina in the Mission.
Delfina is head and shoulders above Lulu in every way. I had a dreadful experience at Lulu and vowed never go to back. Slow service, stone cold food served 45 minutes after ordering, lukewarm food brought back after we pointed out that it was stone cold the first time, form letter response to a complaint I wrote to the manager. Looking back, I'm willing to concede that we perhaps got a bad server or went on a night when there were too many large crowds.
Even with all those caveats, Lulu is an okay restaurant but nothing special in terms of SF dining. Dishes range from great to horrible, as does service.
Delfina, on the other hand, was phenOmenal both times I went. Service was tip top when I dined alone or with a friend, and each and every dish was memorable, the wine list is fantastic, the staff is friendly and efficient, and I would go back again and again if I could afford to eat like that all the time. It's rare to be able to honestly say you could point at any item on the menu and be assured of a delicious meal.
I think LuLu is just OK and heartily agree with Delfina -- my absolute favorite restaurant in SF. I go a couple times a month and have never been disappointed with any item on the menu. Service is great and the room, albeit loud, is very inviting. Nice abbreviated wine list and a great place to take out of town visitors.
If you want a restaurant in the general area of LuLu, I suggest Coco500 which has a very interesting menu, and great choice of a mix of small plates and entrees, depending on how you want to pace your meal.
I had a mediocre meal at Lulu a few weeks ago -- uninteresting chicken, fried artichokes that arrived too quickly (making me worry they weren't fresh), a lackluster pasta dish. There are definitely better places to eat in San Francisco.
I've eaten at LuLu several times over the past six years and think it went through a rough patch after the crash, but has righted itself and is serving some very nice food these days. It is, however, a bit expensive for what it delivers and very noisy. I agree with some of the other posters that lunch is a better bet.