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Oct 22, 2006 10:47 PM

Mars or Moonshine??

My beau and I are celebrating our anniversary... and we cant decide between the two restaurants-- we have never been to either. which do you prefer? suggestions?

thank you!

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  1. Mars is slightly better -- and more expensive -- than Moonshine. I think both are middling quality restaurants that I have little interest returning to.

    For your anniversary, I'd assume you'd especially want to avoid Moonshine as it's extremely loud, busy and often filled with large parties of rude, drunken yuppies. Mars is more quite and intimate.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kent Wang

      I was at Moonshine last night, and really wanted to like my experience, but have to say they couldn't really pull it together. Being quite early on a Sunday night, I didn't get the drunken yuppie experience, but was actually well taken care of by the bartender. The service was all-around quite attentive, which made me really want to like my experience, but the food lacklustre. I had a blackened catfish w/ crawfish etouffee -- the blackened aspect seemed to have washed off due to the runny etouffee, which was more really a bland roux. Red beans & rice had some very nice sausage, but the beans were too undercooked. Oddly enough, I found myself really enjoying the sauteed green beans, corn relish, and carrots.

    2. So, if not either of those... where would you recommend for a romantic dinner?

      4 Replies
      1. re: elenoise

        If you like Italian, Siena or La Traviata. Vespaio, although it has slightly better (and more contemporary) food than those two, is quite noisy.

        For French, Chez Nous is closer to the Mars-Moonshine budget level. If you can spend (quite a bit) more, Aquarelle. Both are romantic.

        For American... hmm, a lot of these are overrated or noisy.

        1. re: Kent Wang

          Cost really is not an issue, we just want to have a wonderful dining experience.. thank you for recommendations!

          1. re: elenoise

            Well, if cost is no matter, then I present to you my list of top romantic restaurants, with terrific food, regardless of cost:

            1. Driskill Grill - Contemporary New American. Lavish Victorian Hotel, less than 75 seat dining room usually no more than half full, sedate.
            2. Aquarelle - French. Small, intimate converted house.
            3. Siena - Italian, Tuscan. Rustic, Italian country house with faux-brick construction, heavy linens.
            4. La Traviata - Italian. Very dark, small (less than 50 seats), downtown.

            I hope the decor and atmosphere descriptions help you choose the environment you want to have for your anniversary meal. Most of these restaurants will also honor special occasions with a small tasteful, complimentary dessert.

            1. re: Kent Wang

              I think Siena is the more attractive and romantic setting, if you are just going to dinner; and La Traviata, although it is small and therefore a bit crowded, is the best choice if you want to go for a walk downtown or bar-hop after dinner.

              I would take my Domestic Partner to Mirabelle. The service is pleasant, the food is very good, and the cost is so reasonable that DP would think me a very sensible husband.

      2. I vote for Mars. I've rarely had a bad meal there. They have a wonderful tenderloin as well as noodle bowls and curry dishes, so kind of something for everyone. The potsticker appetizers are also top shelf. I've only been to Moonshine once, and the service was horrible and the food, when it finally arrived, was cold AND overcooked. Never have gone back after that. Guess I should try it again because it does seem to get good reviews, but I can't convince my wife to try it after the first time.

        Happy Anniversary!

        1. Mars is awesome.

          Order their beef tenderloin, medium rare, with extra leeks. Ask them to go heavy on the sauce, a soy beurre noir. This is, for my money, the best steak in town.

          The atmosphere is dim and intimate; deep red paints with funky lighting create a hip and easily romantic atmosphere. Be warned that large crowds can create a noisy atmosphere: two people with faces close will have little problem, but a table of four can have conversation obscured by the din.

          Mars all the way. Only one complication: CALL FIRST. They are planning a move to a different location. Be careful to make sure they're "all there" when you visit.

          Moonshine's outdoor patio is a fine place for a large group; I don't recommend the venue for intimate dining. Their food is decent: drum, rainbow trout, and jalapeno hanger steak being the entree highlights. Their macaroni and cheese is quite excellent, and they offer several fantastic desserts.

          For romantic dining, I also recommend:

          Chez Nous and Aquarelle -- both excellent, French. Chez Nous reminds me of a place I like in San Francisco. It is a little, crowded place. I highly recommend it. Aquarelle will cost more, but is more spacious and ritzy. Both are reasonably well-lit. In my opinion, Chez Nous is more romantic, while Aquarelle is more antiseptic. However, your mileage may vary depending on your tastes.

          Uchi -- If you both sincerely love sushi, you can have a fantastic and romantic time here. Don't let the haters defray your love for this excellent place: it is popular for a reason. Also, since sushi is so light, you'll both feel energetic after your meal, as opposed to weighed down by steaks and hearty sides.