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What's Quince like?

Just recieved a gift certificate to Quince on Octavia street. I'm wondering if it's hard to get into, how's the menu and general dining experience. Please share any experiences you may have. Thanks so much.

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  1. Quince is a great restaurant. The food is excellent (the best pasta I have had in SF), the service is pro-style and the room is understated, but beautiful. Their wines are a bit over-priced, however. Just be prepared to be the youngest table in the restaurant if you are under fifty...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Husky

      I agree with the age observation. Despite the great meal we had, I felt like the environment was a bit stuffy and stiff. I grew up in pacific heights and it felt like I was eating dinner amongst all the socialite parents of the kids that went to my snobby private high school. That sounds horrible, but it was my impression.

      1. re: AlleyCat

        I lived around the corner in the 70s when that storefront was first converted into a restaurant (Chez Robert), and that was who ate there then.

    2. I think it is excellent. We're in our late 40s and didn't notice the crowd's age, but maybe we just didn't look closely. We sat at the counter. I thought the wine list was great and the mark-ups (2x) low by restaurant standards.

      4 Replies
      1. re: NoeMan

        Just got back from Quince on Sunday. The service is out of this world. Amongst the best service I've had in the city. In many ways, as good as Gary Danko and better than The Dining Room. When making reservations, they asked if it was a special occasion. I said yes. They asked for my name and my significant other's name. When we arrived, our names and occasion were printed on the menu. What a great personal touch. Throughout the evening, the waitress was there when we needed her, and vanished when we didn't. She paused to discuss our wine and gave us a little history on the producer.

        The pappardelle with braised rabbit was amazing. The garganelle with cream, truffles, and peas was also very good. The gnocchi with bolognese was surprisingly weak...especially if you compare it to Incanto's hankerchief pasta with pork ragu. The entree of roasted pork leg with sausage was also very good but again, I liked Incanto's braised pork better.

        The wine list is pricy. There are very few wines in under $50. But there are excellent wines to be sure. Our 2001 Fratelli Barolo was very smooth and elegant and as mentioned, the standard 2x markup.

        Dessert was awesome...a poached nectarine tortina with fiore di latte ice cream.

        Like the previous times, the pastas again outshine the entrees here. The wine list is excellent but very skewed towards the more expensive side. Service is stellar. You will enjoy your gift certificate.

        1. re: Porthos

          Converseley, I had possibly the worst service I have ever encountered on my visit to quince with 3 girlfriends.
          This was disappointing not least because we had a great expectation and our bill was $90+ a head, a price point at which service should be exemplary.
          So much so, I had to write a letter to the restaurant to complain.
          They did call me to apologize, but the experience left such a bitter taste in my mouth, I am not sure I could return there.

          They admitted to me they had a problem, so hopefully the complaints have caused them to sort it out.

          I hope so

        2. re: NoeMan

          When did Quince add a counter?

          1. re: monday

            Yikes I assumed the original post was about Q. I've never been to Quince. Sorry. I also thought the poster felt the crowd was very young, when they actualy meant old. Just returned from Ireland yesterday, must be the jet lag.

        3. Quince in a general sort of description:

          the best of seasonal, sustainable, goodly amount organice Cal-Italian fare. Food is expensive but because it is treated with such care. Their pasta are almost all hand made, their entrees are wonderful, and everything else it too. It can be a bit stiff feeling, but the food is absolutely excellent, the service equally wonderful, and the atmosphere is cozy and subdued ina good way. you definetly need reservations to get in, usually 3 weeks or so ahead of time.

          worth the dough for sure

          1. I had a disappointing meal there. Some of the dishes are good, but it's inconsistent. I think it's overpriced and you can find better Italian food elsewhere. My review is over at SF Station if you want to look for it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: AmySherman

              I have to agree. I thought the portions were small for the price. And before anyone starts with the whole primi/secondi thing, I am well aware. I just think it was expensive for what I received. Most of the dishes were good but for the life of me, I cannot remember any specifics and have never been inspired to return. But hey! You have a gift certificate so money is not really the issue. Go enjoy and please report back. Maybe I will have to go again as I seem to remember a recent glowing report.

            2. 2X undiscounted retail (= 3X wholesale) is in my observation the standard wine markup in San Francisco.

              1. Quince is wonderful. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely, considering the exquisite quality of the ingredients and the great care that goes into the cooking of them.

                The only reason I don't go there more often is because I rarely get my act together early enough to get a table when I want one.

                1 Reply
                1. What a timely post. Does anyone know of any tricks to get a reservation without planning weeks in advance? I am hosting some out-of-towners next week, and I would really like to take them to Quince. I have my name down on the wait list in case anyone cancels, but has anyone tried a walk-in? Help is greatly appreciated.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: hungryhedonist

                    Can anyone in your group pass for Robin Williams?

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Al Gore also does well at scoring tables here.

                    2. re: hungryhedonist

                      This is a bit embarassing to admit, but a friend and I were able to get a last-minute reservation, but it was at 5:30pm! Kind of like a late lunch for the two of us. On the up side, we got a parking place right in front and were actually the first ones to arrive that evening. By the time we left it was completely full, and I did notice a preponderance of older types. I have to say I was disappointed in the gnocchi I had and, truth be told, I can't remember much else - guess I was in the right crowd eating with the seniors!

                    3. We really enjoy the pastas at Quince, and have never had the mains. Last time we managed three courses of pastas, and at the end of the meal the hostess/manager came over, and after we gushed about the pasta told us to call ahead of time to arrange an all pasta tasting menu if we had a group of 4 or 6 (I can't remember exactly). I don't know if this would involve eating at the chef's table in the kitchen or in the normal restaurant.

                      One comment about the age issue--the first time we were really put off and felt we were pidgeonholed by our server as young, poor, and not worth effort. Last time we made a point of ordering decent wine up front and had a completely different experience, albeit with a different server. If you're young, just be enthusiastic and ask chowish questions--the staff will respond well.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: SteveG

                        The pastas are good, nothing else is worth that amount. We had decent service but I would be extremely put out if I felt I HAD to order expensive wine (especially since most are over $50 anyway) in order to get acceptable service.

                      2. Well my husband and I went to Quince and had a terrible experience. The food was mediocre and the service wasn't that great either. GO to Gary Danko's instead!

                        1. Sorry to hear that, but I'm not surprised. Our food was oversalted and mediocre and service was not good. The pasta which everyone supposedly loves was particularly poor. I love the food at Antica and Delfina and generally speaking at A16, but I would not return to Quince. It's amazing to me how many people rave about the place.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: AmySherman

                            i agree. my husband took me there for my birthday and even though the personalized menu is a nice touch, the food was inconsistent and i'm mostly there for the food. the pastas we tried were pretty good, but nothing wow'd me. i wanted to do all pasta but my husband thought we should get the full experience so we ordered a main as well and it was so disappointing. we had halibut that looked like several pieces of paper towel. it had nothing done to it. not a speck of salt or pepper. nothing. no flavor. the presentation and look of the plate reminded me of a crappy hotel room service meal, circa 1980. the dessert was totally bland and forgetful. i live at 18th and dolores and can walk out my front door to far superior meals at places like delfina or range, etc. for a fraction of the cost. sadly, i was not impressed with quince and have no desire to go back there.

                          2. We just enjoyed dinner at Quince at their Chef's Table and it was a magical experience. The service was the best I've ever experienced in an S.F. restaurant - the staff anticipates and times everything perfectly. (The reservations team is also gracious and helpful - not always the case in the City!) The food was exquisite, but I would definitely concentrate on the pastas. If you eat at the Chef's Table, keep in mind that the kitchen equipment can be a little loud at first for ordinary conversation. Also, we were disappointed that the chefs didn't have a minute to visit. Since I wasn't told in advance that the service charge would be 20% and that my guests' valet parking charges would also be put on the check, there were a few surprises but given the overall quality of the evening, these weren't issues. The age range at our happy table was from 27 to 59 but Quince is definitely a serious restaurant for grown-ups.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Marie

                              I believe whoever waits on the Chefs Table is only responsible for that table. It's their only table for the night, let's hope it's well anticipated and well timed service.