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Overrated disappointments

I KNOW I'm going to get flamed here... but we took a trip to SF over Memorial Day Weekend and tried both Aziza and Ame. Ame was OK... nothing SPECTACULAR, and my husband won't even think of returning to Aziza :( However, we are going back to Ame. Some friends are having a party there.
So, while we're on this topic, what other restaurants do you think are overrated disappointments? You know, those restaurants that EVERYONE seems to really love but you didn't.

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  1. What was your problem with Aziza? ..(and with Ame...)
    Aziza has ALWAYS been well received here..could you elaborate? Perhaps others' can then share similar or different experiences there....it's always good to hear "both sides"

    1. I've been to Aziza twice recently and it was terrific each time.

      What didn't you like?


      1. Those are both on my list to try and I was worried about them possibly being overrated. I'm curious about what did and did not go well.

        1. I actually really liked the food at Aziza (a friend took me for my bday in June), but the service was literally CRAZY. The waitress kept making slightly "off" comments, culminating in the one she made when she delivered out entrees:

          Waitress [grimacing strangely as she bends over to place our food on the table]: "ooh, i just threw up in my mouth, you know how that happens? How you almost really throw up but you just throw up in your mouth?"

          Us: [stunned silence]

          We found this very amusing (in restrospect)/disgusting (at the time).

          Dinner was good, though.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ace

            Oh, yuck! That's the kind of thing that should be reported to the manager, pronto!

            1. re: ace

              Although Aziza is one of my favorite restaurants, I'll admit that the last time I dined there (June)the service was very poor, from the rude, affected host, to the spaced-out, creepy waitress. I'm hoping that it was just an off-night.

              1. re: ace

                I'm still laughing at this story! Can anyone top this?

              2. I'm suprised - I've never had anything but perfect food and service in the many times i have been to Aziza. What happened?

                1. I have to agree with the assessment that Aziza is over rated. I'd read rave reviews for some time and finally ate there a few months ago. We had the tasting menu and each course seemed one dimensional and generally too sweet. I was expecting more of a balance between sweet and savory. Also, the menu makes a point of highlighting the organic ingredients, but nothing tasted especially bright or fresh tasting. The food certainly wasn't bad and the service was fine, but for the price there are better restaurants in town.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sunnyside

                    I have to chime in and say that my first visit to Aziza was at best a qualified success: I was definitely disappointed. One dish I had was waayyy oversalted. (Sweetness wasn't the problem, for sure). However, it got such uniform raves that I decided to give it another shot, and it was wonderful!!! I've been back at least four times since then, and have to count myself among the true believers! (You will notice that it is at the top of the list of my favorites on my profile...)

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      What made your experience so different the first time? Was it the things that you ordered or do you think that they were having an "off" night the first time you went?

                      1. re: banquisha

                        I think it was an off night...the dish I had that was much too salty , a guinea hen (to the point where I debated sending it back but didn't) is one that other hounds had reporting enjoying...That aside, In all of my subsequent visits every dish was a hit, which implies that it really isn't a question of ordering carefully...

                        I can't find a report on that first dinner, but here is a report on my revisit:


                        I also remember that hubby wasn't totally thrilled the first visit either, but I can remember his saying even then that he thought the place had potential...beyond that, it is hard to remember, since I've had so many good meals there since.

                        My most recent visit was about two months ago, with a chowish colleague from Manhattan. I took him there for a business dinner because I figured it would be something he wouldn't get at home. He loved it.

                  2. One of my overated disappointments is the Zuni Chicken. Don't get me wrong, it's good, but I feel it's more like $20-$25 good, not $40 good. JMHO.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Problem Child

                      I had my first meal at Zuni earlier this week, and, at the risk of angering folks on this board, I have to saw I came away pretty underwhelmed. Perhaps I just had such high expectations that they couldn't possibly be met!

                      I started with the caesar, split the chicken, the polenta, and the gnocchi, and then split the caramel pot de creme. The caesar was good, a solid preparation - nothing particularly standout, but nothing wrong with it either. The chicken . . . I mean, it was very good, but it just didn't live up to the hype for me, especially at $40. The polenta just didn't do it for me. The gnocchi was meltingly excellent, served very simply with some spinach. Finally, I thought the dessert was also fairly average. Tasty enough, but it would have been hard to eat more than a few bites.

                      Again, everything was good, just not as good as I thought it would be. I don't feel like I had much here that I couldn't find elsewhere in the city. Perhaps I'm missing something . . .

                      1. re: nsheth

                        Zuni's by no means overrated on this board--it's maybe the most controversial restaurant in the area. For every person who says it's one of their favorite restaurants in San Francisco, there are probably two or three people who don't get it. Same goes for Chez Panisse and most of the other restaurants started by CP alumni--Oliveto, Incanto, Cafe Rouge, Pizzaiolo ...

                        As many reports here have noted, Zuni's polenta is bland and boring. My guess is they have it on the menu for children.

                    2. You're right, Ruth. We were both just so disbelieving and stunned that we didn't talk about it until after we left the restaurant. Even acknowledging that she said that before we ate our dinner would've ruined it even more. Another amusing aspect was that my dining companion is the Director of a large county psychiatric facility, and his assessment of our waitress from hell was "completely insane."

                      Another recent disappointment for me- Millennium. I have a couple of friends who love that place, and I'm a semi-demi-veg (don't ask), so I figured I'd like it. Went there w/my brother and his gf this weekend, and it was so unimpressive...sorta like 70s potluck vegetarian, really underwhelming. Plus there was a FULL HOUR WAIT between our apps and entrees, which was never explained or excused. Give me Cafe Gratitude or Manzanita over that overpriced place anyday.

                      1. Hawthorne Lane was a big disappointment for me. The classically "Western" dishes (like the steak) was very good, but all of the Asian-fusion dishes missed one thing or another. The uni pasta was particularly disappointing, since this can be so good when made differently.

                        I can't remember all the details, but I would never go back there.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: susancinsf

                          I don't think that it is off the main track really... What I'm asking in this post is for places that you feel were a disappointment, after all the raves. Obviously the two places I post about still get a lot of raves but, in my personal experience I wouldn't send anyone there from out of town looking for the best of S.F. has to offer.

                          1. re: yamada3

                            You cannot go back to Hawthorne Lane, they are shutting down. Will remodel, reopen as "22" according to inside scoop.

                            1. re: cedichou

                              Hawthorne Lane will be open as is 'til the end of the year. I have had really lovely experiences there, and still recommend it. I don't get the previous post. Honestly, the uni pasta is the first and only preparation of uni that I've ever enjoyed!

                            2. re: yamada3

                              Others probably felt the same way: the Inside Scoop reported the other day that Hawthorne Lane is shutting down and completely reinventing itself.

                            3. Oola: the food was cold and clearly prepared hours ahead of time and then only partially heated before brought to us.

                              Blue Plate : everything was overcooked and mushy. The only good dish was the grilled romaine (which you would think had the most danger of being overcooked, but they pulled that one off well)

                              And just to let the OP know, i really enjoyed my food the one time i went to Aziza, but my husband got the bastilla and he said it was really awful and has no desire to go back there. He liked the appetizers, but he thought the entree's were poorly prepared and tasted bad. go figure...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jupiter

                                My husband also hates the bastilla. In 2 visits, I have probably tried over 90% of what Aziza has to offer and I think the place is a raging bargain with great food. Fantastic cocktails and desserts too, which makes it just about the total package for me.

                              2. Millennium's the only restaurant I can think of that I've eaten in that's still in business where I'd heard good things (and in fact eaten good meals) where I had a horrible meal.

                                Zuni, Aziza, and Blue Plate are in my experience popular for good reason.

                                1. Oh, wait, I thought of another: In-N-Out. If you're in some forsaken backwater where there's nothing but chains, one could be a welcome sight, but in San Francisco? I'll never understand why so many people go out of their way to eat that mediocre food when it's so easy to get good food.

                                  1. Here are several disappointments for me:
                                    Fifth Floor
                                    Slanted Door
                                    Rose Pistola
                                    Cafe Kati

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: anna

                                      What did you expect at Rose Pistola and how did it disappoint you? I went there last year for the first time in a long while and had a very good meal. If the prices were more competitive I'd eat there regularly.


                                      Slanted Door's hardly a place that "everyone loves." It's probably the most-hated restaurant on this board.

                                      Reports on Fifth Floor have been fairly mixed.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        I just expect a decent meal at Rose Pistola and didn't even get that! The hostess was rude, our table was not ready on time, even though we had early reservation and only one other party was present, the food was so bad that we went somewhere else for dessert (first and only time I've done that). I can't remember much about what other people ordered, just that no one really enjoyed the food. My dish, mussels and clams with aromatic vegetables, was horrible. I've never seen mussels and clams that small (nothing larger than the size of a dime) and they were way over salt, to the point that they're almost inedible.

                                        Slanted Door seems to be one of those places where people either love or hate. I think we know how I feel about that one, but there are people who really love the place.

                                        1. re: anna

                                          How long ago was that meal at Rose Pistola? I think they've had some ups and downs due to chef and management changes.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Oh, it was years ago. I would say it was in the late 90s. Things might have changed, but the experience was so bad that I rather spend my money elsewhere.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Given Rose Pistola's relatively high prices, there's no compelling reason to go there unless you crame one of the dishes other places don't make (such as the farinata), but they did have their act together on all counts last year.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                I had similar experiences at Rose Pistola years ago. I went again a few months ago and it was great. As Robert says, they do seem to have gotten their act together. (That said, a large party came in mid-way through our meal with a baby that screamed loudly every five seconds. We were finally driven out of the restaurant after half an hour of this noise, which not only hurt the ears but made it impossible to converse. Of course the parents never bothered to take the kid outside. In retrospect I guess this negative impression is why I haven't been back yet. I'll have to remedy that.)

                                          2. re: anna

                                            Ooo, I totally second Fifth Floor. Seemed like a silly parody of a fancy restaurant. I enjoy having a cocktail in the bar every once in a while, but I'll never have dinner there again.

                                            1. re: Atomica

                                              Me three. Way too precious and pretentious, too much posturing and overly dramatic presentation...the food was only okay, and it seemed like a parody of haute cuisine, everything tiny and perfect and arranged to look like a flower...it's been a while since we were there, and I've heard the new chef is great, but we tried it twice and just weren't impressed.

                                            2. re: anna

                                              I was disappointed by Rose Pistola as well. i thought the pizza, past and salad were mediocre. Granted my bf is a italian chef--I thought I could eat better at home for less money.

                                            3. Aqua. I've been three times, and have nothing memorable each time. Sure, the tuna tartare was good, but the rest was nothing special.

                                              1. I wasn't very impressed with my one meal at Aziza, but that was a few years ago, and in general I've never had a great North African meal in SF compared to what I've had in Paris. I'd like to try it one more time before deciding if I really think it's overrated. Same with Blue Plate, nothing we ordered the one time I went there was particularly good, but I should give it another try as well. At Ame on the other hand, I found the food quite good, but overpriced. I guess that's what happens when you can fill up the restaurant with guests from the St Regis on expense accounts.

                                                As for overrated restaurants in SF that I've been to more often, I'd say Gary Danko would be near the top. It used to be one of my favorite restaurants in the city when it first opened, but it really hasn't kept up over the years. Combined with the increases in menu prices ($89 for the five course!), ridiculous wine markups and crazy reservation game, I can't think of any good reason to ever eat there again.

                                                1. Brick. I thought the food average, service pretty amateurish and definitely not worth the hype.

                                                  1. We didn't enjoy Aziza because the food just wasn't anything to write home about. Bland, boring and as one houd said so aptly, "one dimensional." The service was ok, and the drinks were good but, there are SO MANY other restaurants to try other than this one. Trust me though, when we find places we like, we go back.
                                                    Ame was GOOD but, I've had better cod, porkchop, and lobster elsewhere. I can't remember the fourth entree we ordered... the chawan mushi there was fantatic. The thing with Ame was, I was expecting the best (whatever it is that we ordered) we've ever had. Not one dish made me want to go back. There was not one dish there that I couldn't find better elsewhere. However, that does NOT mean that Ame is BAD... it's just overrated. We wouldn't go back here if it weren't for our friends. It's expensive... but a nice dining experience overall... just nothing SPECTACULAR.

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: banquisha

                                                      Taste varies but nothing I had at Aziza could reasonably have been described as bland. Cocktails can dull your palate.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        That threw up a red flag for me too. Bland? I would never use that word to describe Aziza's food.

                                                        1. re: Atomica

                                                          I still don't get why everyone here says that this place is a "MUST GO" in S.F... maybe we ordered the wrong things???

                                                          1. re: banquisha

                                                            personally I don't think it is a 'must go', so not everyone here does say that.

                                                            I went there for my birthday last year and was not blown away, particularly because nobody else wanted to order desserts.

                                                            another birthday without cake. what miserable friends i have.

                                                            i suppose they must have thought the basteeya (however you spell it) was the dessert.

                                                            i thought it was actually a fine, if unmemorable, meal but i wouldn't go out of my way for it again. 20+ avenue is out of my way. I'd love to try their cocktails but i dont drink and drive and i aint shelling out for a taxi to that neck of the woods.

                                                            1. re: banquisha

                                                              Aziza's definitely a board favorite, but not everybody likes it. There are lots of topics detailing what's best to order there, for example:


                                                              I liked all of the many dishes I tasted except the lamb shank, which I would not have ordered if I'd realized how sweet it would be. I should have ordered the lamb with eggplant. But I had a great time anyway, there was tons of other food.

                                                              1. re: banquisha

                                                                The kitchen excels at braised meats and sweet and savory pairings and the cous cous is some of the best on the west coast. I always order a coursed dinner as that is the style of the cuisine though I don't usually order the tasting menu so I can have more control. For apps I love the kefta skewers, which have a wonderful interplay between beef and grapes, and the spreads. I always get the basteeya as a mid course dish. The thing about the basteeya is that one quarter of it between apps and dinner is the perfect amount. I can't imagine trying to eat the whole thing on my own as an entree, or eating it along side a stew. For mains the lamb with charred eggplant and coriander beef stew are both phenomneal. The meat is perfectly braised; melt in your mouth tender but still substantial. The flavors are lovely and unique.
                                                                Those are just some of the reasons why I love Aziza.

                                                          2. re: banquisha

                                                            Thanks for elaborating on your original post. I've only been to Aziza once and enjoyed it overall. Didn't find the food bland at all; found the seasoning to be pretty complex and thoughtful, but not in your face. While I'm glad I checked it out, I personally don't have a strong urge to return given all the other choices in SF...

                                                            I haven't been to Ame, but it sounds like your expectations were very high ("I was expecting the best...we've ever had.") Some disappointment was inevitable...

                                                            While I wouldn't describe Manresa in Los Gatos as "overrated", I had very high expectations and was disappointed when the food and overall experience didn't move me as much as I thought it would. I think what the chef is doing is interesting and all, but I didn't leave that excited compared to more simple, rustic meals that I've had.

                                                            1. re: Carb Lover

                                                              unfortunately if you go with a group you are unable to order your own choice - they plan a meal for you. this, thinking on it, is probably why i wasnt so excited about - i do like to be in control over what i put in my mouth, especially on my birthday.

                                                              next time i must try it with less people.

                                                              1. re: Sixy

                                                                Hmmm...do you mean that a large group can't order the tasting menu that gives each diner a choice of entree and other courses? I've never heard about that before...

                                                                There's a place in LA that would make parties larger than a certain size (I think around 10) order from a limited menu, which I found very annoying!

                                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                  Lots of good restaurants do that. There's a practical limit on how many different dishes can be prepared to order simultaneously. If they limit the table to a choice of, say, three first courses and three main courses, the kitchen can just make larger amounts.

                                                                  The alternative is to prepare the stuff in waves, and keep some of it warm. That means inferior food.

                                                          3. I dont think that is true at all.
                                                            First in a small community you may be able to
                                                            find people with whom your tastes, and price-performace
                                                            curves correlate with, or people who have similar
                                                            weights on the "zagat" vector [how much attention you
                                                            pay to food vs service vs decor].

                                                            I think a valid criticism are the content-free posts
                                                            that express nothing but a data point ... "I think
                                                            Aziza is great ... 4 stars!" are lame. But you see those
                                                            on the positive side as well as the negative.

                                                            And it is interesting to see which places really have
                                                            high varinace in the reviews and which seem to get solid
                                                            reviews almost across the board.

                                                            The biggest frustration I have is people compare across
                                                            too big economic ranges. Why does in-n-out come up in a
                                                            conversation about $10 hamburgers? It's reasonable to
                                                            compare to Nations Giant Burger, but not Campton Place.
                                                            When talking about "good pizza", how do you compare
                                                            something in the Little Star/Tomasso's price range to
                                                            place twice as expensive, such as Nizza La Bella.

                                                            Anyway, back to Aziza: I agree totally with the "it's not
                                                            bad, but nothing to write home about" ... although where
                                                            the above review goes beyond that, would be harsher than
                                                            what I would say [I was a guest there at a friend's office
                                                            party, so I didnt have a check to reflect on before
                                                            forming an opinion.]

                                                            On an earlier occasion I was a little put off by the
                                                            hostess and the bartender. We got there late, and I
                                                            asked if we could come in and have one of these cocktails
                                                            we'd been hearing about ... she said ok, but sort of
                                                            "warned" us in an obnoxious way that we wouldnt be able
                                                            get any food and as long as it was just "a drink" it
                                                            would be ok. Then the service at the bar was also
                                                            kinda lame ... at a neighborhood bar if the bartendeer
                                                            is not getting to you because he's flirting with the wimmens
                                                            at the other end of the bar .. ok whatever, par for the
                                                            course ... but i would expect more professionalism at
                                                            a medium-end [sic] restaurant.

                                                            As with my comment about Mochica, about Aziza I'd say:
                                                            if you are looking for well-executed dishes of the north
                                                            african type better than an ethnic dive, ok, come here.
                                                            But If you ask me for a good $40 restaurant rec, I'm not
                                                            going to point you to Aziza. In fact I'll wave you off
                                                            if I can. I'd help them find deliciousness by pointing
                                                            them to say Clementine in that general direction.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: psb

                                                              PSB, you wrote ...

                                                              "The biggest frustration I have is people compare across too big economic ranges ...When talking about "good pizza", how do you compare something in the Little Star/Tomasso's price range to place twice as expensive, such as Nizza La Bella”

                                                              I think it is easy. There are times when price and pedigree play into a report. However, sheer deliciousness should not be dependant on price.

                                                              I have no problem comparing Parry’s NY $2.25 slice to Nizza La Bella’s $20 pie. Both are delicious to me, but given the choice between the two, Parry’s hands-down.

                                                              I don’t have to evaluate Parry’s. There’s a basic animal lowest-level gut satisfaction of deliciousness to Parry’s. I compare it to Marlo Brando’s cry of ‘Stella’ in Street Car Named Desire. It is primal deliciousness.

                                                              Pizza? Ask me and my cry is "Parry's".

                                                              Even so, neither place rings my own personal bells like some humble East Coast pizza joints.

                                                              Which gets to my big disappointment in the Bay Area ... ice cream ... gelato ... whatever you want to call it. It is toooo over-rated. It is judged on pedigree rather than taste, IMO.

                                                              I got flamed for saying I liked Carvel. I do. It is WAY under-rated, especially the chocolate soft-serve. I don’t care what is in it. It tastes good ... to me.

                                                              Café Fanny’s caramel ice cream is as good as it gets in the Bay Area. It is equisite. Of the rest, I have to say that the only place I feel I must stop is Citizen Cake for their gelato-like ice cream.

                                                              However, where will I be more frequently ... Carvel. What, to my tastes is utter satisfying, ice cream deliciousnes ... Carvel.

                                                              As to resteraurants. I think Clementine is overrated. I see no reason to go there when Chapeau is down the street. I like Aziza. There you go. Different strokes for different folks.

                                                              Why don't I like Clementine? I don't remember. I didn't report it, or I can't find my report. My overall impression was ... eh, this ain't so special. Which doesn't give anyone really a chance to counter with ... well, usually the xxx dish is great ... or the best thing to order is xxx.

                                                              Some of the restaurants mentioned that I agree with in this thread ..
                                                              Slanted Door
                                                              Rose Pistola
                                                              Gary Danko

                                                              Here’s why I thought Slanded Door and Gary Danko were overrated.

                                                              Slanted Door

                                                              Gary Danko

                                                              I have a bunch of reasons why I don’t like Aqua or Rose Pistola, all burried in topics somewhere.

                                                              Rose Pistola didn’t honor a reservation I had. I bought a friend visiting from Connecticut and made a reservation long in advance. At that time I was a regular. They tried to seat us near the bathroom at opening time. Talking to the manager did no good. I never went back.

                                                              Aqua was a service problem too. I had some foot problems and an appointment at a podiatrist next door. I walked in to an empty restaurant at 5pm, told them my appointment was a 6 pm (or something along those lines). They refused too seat me anywhere except the bar where I had difficulty getting up on the high stool with my foot problem. I was using a cane. During that time, only one table was occupied.

                                                              In both places the food wasn’t enough to make up for the shoddy service.

                                                              So, that being said, I think Robert Lauriston asked the most significant question in this topic ... how long has it been since you ate at, in his question, Rose Pistola?

                                                              In all of the above, my dissapointment has to do with a visit that is at a minimum one year old, and in some cases up to three years old. In most cases it was based on one visit. One dish? Off-night? Could be.

                                                              In that time, that rotten hostess has long departed. Chefs change. How valid is my opinion that these restaurants are disappointments? It’s all context, eh?

                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                I think there are times when you want to just chat ...
                                                                "what's the best pizza" "what's the best burger" ...
                                                                and this kind of thing needs no rules, nor is there
                                                                any reason it cant cover "stuff i think is overrated".

                                                                But I think when people are making prctical decisions
                                                                about where to eat, just as they may have a hankering
                                                                for "pizza tonight" i think they also often implicitly
                                                                have a hankering for whether they are thinking about
                                                                spending $15 that night or $35.

                                                                So while of course when you're shooting the breeze
                                                                about "what pizza i like" it's quite reasonable to
                                                                talk about arinell and nizza and dont like zacharies ...
                                                                but these are really statements about me and my
                                                                preferences. and maybe a hound based on such comment
                                                                schedules a trip tp both. but when making a particular
                                                                dining decision for a particular meal, i doubt arinell
                                                                and nizza la bella are both going to be under consideration.

                                                                anyway, i'm on the side of letting people talk about
                                                                whatever. including informative disses.

                                                                re: clementine ... i think the desserts are good.
                                                                other than that it's ok. given food of a comparable
                                                                standard, and price-perf, i prefer french to say
                                                                middle easter, north african ... so clementine > aziza
                                                                is probably more of a statement about me, than the

                                                                aqua: service annoyed me [we were younger then and the
                                                                service was kinda obnoxious. it wasnt like we walked in
                                                                at prime time under dressed and ordered just a salad.
                                                                we walked in in suits, they werent too busy, we got the
                                                                tasting menu. the waiter was really condescneing explaing
                                                                what some things were, like when i didnt hear him and he
                                                                thought i didnt know what pate was and "explained" it to me.
                                                                we also didnt get water till we'd been seated for +15 min.
                                                                which is ironic at a restaurant called aqua, but irritating
                                                                when the bill is +100/person.

                                                                slanted door: only went to old mission location. main
                                                                memory was "i didnt like the desserts" ... but i was also
                                                                in a hurry to get to the opera or something. i think as
                                                                with bodega bistro, i'm probably just not that big a fan
                                                                of some of their signature items ... my friends were
                                                                extremely delighted with bodega bistro items like th shaken
                                                                beef ... i ate off the same plate as them and didnt see
                                                                what the big deal was.

                                                                chapeau: long rant in preparation

                                                                i wonder if i can make it to both crixa and bake sale betty's
                                                                on the way to work right now!

                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                  I am with you on the Carvel, maybe it's just that it reminds me of good times growing up in NY but I can't get enough of it. And I love the Ice Cream Cakes! I don't want cake in my Ice Cream cake, just ice cream, Carvel gets it right. I'm so happy now that one opened up in Berkeley.

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    Bi-rite just opened a creamery on 18th by Stem and it's really good. Excellent lemon sorbet really yummy brown butter pecan and I think they're going to have soft serve. all organic. it not fancy-schmancy just yummy.

                                                                2. I thought Oola was just ok, not great, and I don't understand why people rave about Bodega Bistro, which is very good but not overwhelming. Other than that, though, every other chow recommendation in SF I've been to has been accurate.

                                                                  There are 2 places in San Mateo I've been to because of chow recommendations that I was not impressed by. I don't like Happy Cafe very much -- I think the XLB are awful, and the other dishes just ok; Shanghai East is about a million times better. I also tried a chow-recommended ramen place -- Himiwari? -- and I didn't like it at all.

                                                                  So much can depend on personal tastes, the particular day you go, the particular server you get, etc., that it's hard to judge unless you eat somewhere regularly. While I was underwhelmed with the chow-recommended places above, I've had some great meals at places that the hounds don't like all that much. Overall, though, chowhound rarely steers me wrong.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: JoyM

                                                                    I recommend Bodega Bistro all the time because it has some of the best Vietnamese food I've found and unlike a lot of its competitors it's open at my dinnertime. The papay salad is tops. The spring rolls, pork bun, fried mushroom and crab rolls, pad thai, and crepe were all first-rate.

                                                                    Can you tell me places that make those dishes better, and are they open after 8pm?

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Both Binh Minh Quan and Lotus Garden have excellent crepes, (and a lot of other delicious items as well) and both are open past 8 p.m....

                                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                                        I like Binh Minh Quan but I think Bodega Bistro's food is better.

                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston


                                                                        If you can, you should try to get down to Nha Toi in San Jose. They are open very late and they blow Bodega Bistro out of the water any day. :D

                                                                        1. re: yamada3

                                                                          San Jose is about as convenient for me as Vietnam.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            you could take cal-train. i think its faster than flying to vietnam.

                                                                    2. I too put quince top of my overrated in SF list.

                                                                      1. Impala at 501 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                                        A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y AAAWWWFFFUUULLL! We were suckered in by OpenTable and it offer of 1000 dining points and by this:
                                                                        "Impala writes...From the founders of Mas Sake and Suite One8One comes a new luxe Mexican restaurant and lounge." Needless to say, we won't be trying those places either. Again, disappointed due to the slick website and slick menu describing good food.

                                                                        When the waitress, with a thick russian accent, comes to our table to take our drink order, we ask the waitress is are there any happy hour specials, as we are dining early, before 6pm. She replies that she has to check - as this is her first day. Yikes! We were concerned. Plus the menu is "Mexican" - ha!ha!

                                                                        I tried the Sloppy Jose - yuck and my dining companion had the organic enchiladas - it was so bad that she did not take a second bite, instead she ate the side dishes. When I invited her to send the plate back - she was very uncomfortable doing this. The dining room was practically empty and she did not want to risk getting something "extra" in her next plate.

                                                                        Just thinking about this place makes the bile rise in my throat. Yuck!

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Shoefly

                                                                          As is true with I-Dine restaurants (where you get airline miles), those 1000-dining-point on Open Table places all seem to have some fatal flaw.

                                                                          1. re: Atomica

                                                                            Definitely true for most of the I-dine restaurants, but Luella and RNM, and Nuevo Fruitilandia, are on there!

                                                                          2. re: Shoefly

                                                                            To even call Mas Sake or Impala a restaurant is misleading. Those places belong elsewhere - where? I'm not so sure.

                                                                          3. Incanto. I was only there once, and I know it gets some raves, but I thought it was lousy. This is not a great city for Italian food in my view, though Delfina is an important Cal-Italian exception, but I was excited by the food at Incanto and left very disappointed. What's more, I think the faux Tuscan decor is ridiculous.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Tobias

                                                                              The food at Incanto and Delfina is in many respects quite similar. It's hard to make sense of your radical distinction without details.

                                                                              1. re: Tobias

                                                                                Incanto was one of my favorite meals of the year so far. Everything was phenomenal but the antipasto platter and the braised pork shoulder stand out. I really can't think of a single criticism; each dish feature superb ingredients and was perfectly executed. The service was really good too.

                                                                                1. re: Tobias

                                                                                  The one several-course meal I had at Incanto had a lot of winners and some losers (dessert was terrible). What I truly could have done without is the owner's loooong lecture about Dante's Inferno. What a windbag he is.

                                                                                2. Two restaurants that did not wow me:

                                                                                  La Folie

                                                                                  I think it was because they were overhyped and I had real high expectations. Hence I left the restaurants disappointed.

                                                                                  1. Overrated: Manresa, Incanto, Gary Danko (except the cheese cart) and that perennial favorite of Berkeley crowd, Sketch (yuck). I am neutral on Michael Mina and I do like Fifth Floor very much so there.

                                                                                    Mr. Smart

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: MrSmart

                                                                                      Overrated by whom? All of those places have gotten very mixed reports on this board.

                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        By the public and the press; we don't live in a CH aquarium. Virtually all restaurants get mixed reviews on this board.

                                                                                        Having said that, I vow to read CH daily and meticulously track the reviews for all Bay Area restaurants. As soon as I'll see a statistically valid set of positive reviews for a restaurant, I'll know it's okay with you to claim it as worthy of overrated criticism.

                                                                                        1. re: MrSmart

                                                                                          The thesis of this topic is that there are restaurants that "EVERYONE seems to really love but you didn't."

                                                                                          The reality is that board regulars see posts every week or so expressing that sentiment not just about board favorites like Aziza (which almost always have a significant number of minority-opinion posts), but about highly controversial places like Zuni, and board un-favorites like Slanted Door.

                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            "Everyone" includes the public and the press.

                                                                                      2. I stand by my claim that Gary Danko is one of the best values in high end dining in the Bay Area. Three courses for $61 is a bargain if you what I do: foie gras, beef and the chocolate souffle. Many high end places charge a supplement for all 3 of these. You wont find these three dishes so well executed and for such a fair price anywhere else in town.
                                                                                        I compared Danko's prices to some similar restaurants in SF:

                                                                                        Foie Gras - $19.75
                                                                                        Beef - $40
                                                                                        Dessert - $10
                                                                                        Total - $69.75

                                                                                        3 Courses - $58
                                                                                        Beef supplement - $25
                                                                                        Total - $83

                                                                                        Foie Gras (not always available, you may have to settle for duck liver mousse or confit) - $18
                                                                                        Beef - $41
                                                                                        Dessert - $9
                                                                                        Total - $68

                                                                                        Michael Mina
                                                                                        3 Courses - $88
                                                                                        Foie Gras supplement - $15
                                                                                        Beef supplement - $20
                                                                                        Total - $123

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                          granted it may be one of the best value menus in town, but if you happen not to enjoy the evening because of the dramatic intense service then the pleasure of the food can be lost. I didn't walk out of there $61 out of pocket, I still walked out of there a about 600 dollars out of pocket for 4, even though we'd ordered some of the cheapest (1.5) bottles of plonk on the entire menu.
                                                                                          This comparison doesn't take into account sizing portions either - all GDs portions seemed small. Boulevard's beef is a large dish by comparison.

                                                                                          I have to say that the asparagus salad and the frogs legs were awesome though, especially they were things not ordered by me, but by some one else. the foie gras didn't especially do it for me.

                                                                                          1. re: Sixy

                                                                                            I have never experienced snooty service at Gary Danko. The waitstaff has always been attentive and friendly, very helpful in answering questions and meeting our needs.

                                                                                            If you hate over the top service, avoid the blond dude at the French Laundry. The most ridiculous waiter we've ever had. Oh my God. I know it's supposed to be the best resto in the US and everything, but that man needs to tone it down!

                                                                                          2. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                            (to the tune of Whitesnake) Gary Danko, here I come again!! Actually I haven't been to Cyrus yet or Ame. Must check the hype :)

                                                                                          3. I think Limon is one of the most overrated places in the city. It's ok. The ceviche is ok, but not great. Overall, what is the point of having a very average meal in a place where you can't hear yourself think?

                                                                                            1. kirala is overrated for me. I have been there several time, but I just simply don't see why their sushi is THE SUSHI the way people have described it to me. Their food just tasted like whatever to me.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: idlehouse

                                                                                                Kirala's hardly overrated on this board. A few people like it, a few hate it, most think that it's OK but not worth standing in line. My one exception would be maybe if you wanted the robata items, since that's pretty rare around here.


                                                                                              2. Canteen was a terrible disappointment. Grainy mashed potatoes, lame coq au vin, an appetizer so unmemorable that the only thing I remember is that it didn't taste a thing like the main ingredient. Only thing we really loved was the brioche.

                                                                                                I've also been consistently non-thrilled with The Slanted Door. It's perfectly fine, but no mouthgasm moments.

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: MuppetGrrl

                                                                                                  Wow, I'm surprised to hear that Canteen was so off. I guess anybody can have a bad day.

                                                                                                  As I've noted above, Slanted Door is probably the single most-hated restaurant on this board. It's about as close to the opposite of "EVERYONE seems to really love but you didn't" as could be.

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    Everyone I know off the board really seems to love it, so I feel comfortable mentioning it.

                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                      i have been to canteen four times now and feel uncomfortable reviewing it since I have had such mixed experiences so there is more than the one off day that they have. I persevere because I really want to like it.
                                                                                                      I have been twice for breakfast and twice for lunch, never for dinner.
                                                                                                      I had the worst dessert ever there (a stale brioche with some blackberry sauce and a teaspoon of crystalized ice cream. A teaspoon, I kid you not, they had run out apparently). really it was undeniably bad beyond bad. A twinkie would have been better. When we said something about it they just comped us a cup of tea (not the dessert). I'll visit one more time before I make my mind up totally.

                                                                                                      1. re: Sixy

                                                                                                        In my book, three strikes and you're out. I'll try a new place that I really want to like three times. If I don't have an enjoyable meal by then, I move on. Sometimes the food is just not to your taste.

                                                                                                    2. re: MuppetGrrl

                                                                                                      Canteen was a terrible disappointment.

                                                                                                      I wasn't terribly disappointed....but wasn't impressed. To say it's cozy is an understatement. Yugo drivers might like this place.

                                                                                                      A diner with famous chef's name attached. Not large portions, not bad, not great; not going back.

                                                                                                      1. re: Waterboy

                                                                                                        These reports are always strange to me given how great the food was at my several dinners there.

                                                                                                        Physically it's a 50s hotel coffee shop.

                                                                                                    3. When I tried Gaspares, after the suggestion of many of my friends, I came out pretty disappointed.

                                                                                                      1. Gotta agree with you - my evening at Aziza was unremarkable; the bill wasn't.

                                                                                                        Food so-so. Cocktail delish. Not motivated to return.

                                                                                                        1. I know this is an old thread, but an interesting one.

                                                                                                          My opinion is simple: if a 'hound says "I was disappointed" and that's the extent of the posting, I ignore it. 100%. Or "I had high hopes and I was disappointed". There's no frame of reference, unless I recognize your name, and I'm not going to go back through other posts. Even "it was salty" - I had a girlfriend who thought *everything* was salty, and eats almost exclusively at Cafe Gratitude now (which I admit is pretty tasty).

                                                                                                          Maybe you don't have time to write up a juicy paragraph about what you did and didn't like, but (IMHO) the easy way out is to post a restaurant or two that you prefer. If you say "Not as good as TFL or Boulevard", I know what your frame was. If you say Tu Lan is better than Aqua, I know you're insane [you shouldn't be comparing those].

                                                                                                          Even a sentence like "I was expecting the sparkling, shimmering excellence of all the best meals of my life in one juicy dumpling, but it was simply a decent honest dumpling, I'm never going back". How long does that take to write?

                                                                                                          Chowhound is what you make it.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                            Every restaurant has some people who don't like it.

                                                                                                            Calling places you don't like "overrated" isn't a comment on the restaurants, it's a comment on other people's opinions.

                                                                                                          2. to add my two cents, I've been consistently disappointed with the food at Zuni over the past 10 years - and always get dragged back by friends who love it and claim it's wonderful.

                                                                                                            1. The problem is always a matter of expectation management and price performance. I go to a "must go" restaurant with an open mind, understanding that one person's "Warm Service" is another's "Intrusive", and everyone has different taste buds.

                                                                                                              At the end of the day, the main question is "for the price did I get good food and service and is it to my liking?" If the first part of the answer is Yes and the second part is no, I'd still recommend others to go, with the qualification on why I am biased against it.

                                                                                                              Slanted Door, Bong So and La Colonial are three of "I don't get it" resturants. I am sure many people like it, but it just doesn't turn my taste buds on.

                                                                                                              Gary Danko, Cyrus, Ame, Scott Howard and Michael Minna are restaurants that I consider matches the hype. They each offer excellent food and service, but has their personality that I understand would turn some people off.

                                                                                                              Hence the tough part of restaurants, how do you provide a differentiated and excellent food and service to create a loyal clientale without turning off too many people?

                                                                                                              1. I was disappointed with Frascati - it did not seem worthy of all the positive reviews I had heard...

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: sushi202

                                                                                                                  really? what didn't you like? it's one of my favorite places...solid food, nice atmosphere, decent prices...just wondering what they did to bug you.

                                                                                                                2. Hell - stick with Tu Lan!

                                                                                                                  Good Stuff -

                                                                                                                  Let the posts fly!

                                                                                                                  1. Must say that Kitchen in Novato has gotten rave reviews, but I found it overpriced and not that fabulous. Plus their well advertised early bird 3 courses for $15 is nothing off the regular menu, but like a poor man's choice of other food.