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Michael Mina, Gary Danko, Fleur De Lys or Masa's-which one?

  • m

I like to hit one or two 'fancy' restaurants when I'm on vacation, and I'm coming to San Francisco with my wife Apr 23-26. I want to go to one of these four places, has anyone been to any of them? How was your experience? Which one would you recommend if you had to choose one? Any help appreciated

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  1. I would search the archives for posts. There have been tons and tons of stuff posted on these four. Frankly, I would put Fleur de Lys below the other three. I really didn't get the urge to go back to FdL, unlike say Gary Danko. You might as well add the Dining Room to the list also.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Cary

      I can't help with the ranking, but I dined at Fleur De Lys last month for the first time in years, and was astonished at how good it was in every way. Hubert Keller invited us to peek into the kitchen while he signed a copy of his cookbook for our dazzled guest. And the room has to be the most beautiful and romantic in town.

      1. re: Rod Williams

        yeah the room is amazing. The food is good. But something is missing though (for me anyways). It's worth going at least once.

        1. re: Rod Williams

          The main room at Fleur IS beautiful, but you might not get to sit there. After making it clear that I wanted a table in the main room when I made the res, I was relegated to what I call the anti-room. And they would not switch us, even though most of the table in the good room were empty. The table next to us in the anti-room also asked to be moved (they had the same reaction, but likewise it was a no go). Seems that the good room is for the good (repeat) customers. Not the ones merely willing to shell out about $200 per person. And the food wasn't all THAT great. Wine pairings were weak.

          Danko--food was pretty damn good, service was weird, bathrooms are way cool.

          Masa--best meal of the three, by far. Ranked up there with my best meal ever. But that was before Ron Siegel moved on. I haven't eaten there since.

          You might consider the place he moved to (Ritz Carlton?)

          1. re: Rod Williams

            FDL is definitely one of my favorites. The food is getting better and better every time. I was once seated not under the tent, in the room in the back. I asked to be re-seated, and they did so. Had to appreciate their effort. In fact, when you make a reservation, you should ask to be seated under the tent, if that's what you want - which of course is highly recommended.

        2. gary danko

          not that there is a "Wrong" choice here.

          1 Reply
          1. re: laurie

            Well, there haven't been any reports on Masa's since Siegel went to the Ritz. I wouldn't consider it a sure thing at this point.

            I'd put The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton on your list -- there have been nothing but rave reports about the food since Siegel took over, and it's probably the "fanciest" restaurant in town.

            People are often dissatisfied with Fleur de Lys -- the service can be snooty and as one of the posters said, there's just something missing.

            Nothing anyone has said about Michael Mina has made me want to eat there -- very expensive and the food is very fussy, although people seem to think it's good.

          2. Echo other comments- summary is Danko and the Ritz.

            I haven't been to FDL or Mina- but probably won't based on what I have heard...at least for the time being.

            I have been to Danko and Masa's. They, to me, are Apples/Oranges. My preference is Danko (modern and cal cuisine)- without even a thought. And then I would say Ritz Carlton (formal, less modern atmosphere but the food from my reliable sources is second to none) for the second option.

            Can't find my review of Masa's, but I went recently. Have been to Danko 4-5 times over the past year and everyone who I have brought has completely loved the food, service, experience...

            Also, I wouldn't miss Tartine (18th and Guerrero, if you are in the area) and Recchiuti Confections in the Ferry Plaza- or really the whole Ferry plaza/farmers market. I think Zarzuela in Russian Hill is great, spanish tapas and on the Muni line or cab it from union square- its not far.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bandit

              Thanks for the advice. I have never heard anyone say anything bad about Gary Danko, says something I guess. I will keep your tips in mind, they are much appreciated

            2. I ate at Michael Mina last night. The meal was exceptional. All four of us loved it, and my guests had recently been to FDL, thought it was very good, and thought MM far surpassed it.

              1. r
                Robert Lauriston

                You might consider La Folie too. I think Roland Passot's as good a chef as any around here.

                Link: http://www.lafolie.com

                1. Gary Danko! By Far! Michael Mina in my opinion tries too hard, the little sets of 3 are just too much and while the food is good he over does it on the flavors so much that i found it was hard to enjoy. Fleur de lys is pretty, but im not too crazy about the food.

                  Gary Danko on the other hand is my current SF favorite. If you can get a reservation, i would strongly suggest you take it! I thought the food was amazing, every course was perfectly done, I had the best venison of my life when I was there, they have a great cheese selection and wonderful desserts (I had the dessert for two that they make next to your table . .i forget what it was right now but it tasted great!), and the service was exceptional. We complimented our waiter and he said that danko spends lots of time and effort toward perfecting the service.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: hungryfina

                    Is there somewhere in particular that is a better place to sit in Gary Danko? I am visiting from SC in a couple of weeks and made reservations there but wondering if I should try requesting a certain table?-if they will take requests at all? Want it to be a nice experience all around. Thanks!

                    1. re: LaurenJ3384

                      Nearly any table at Danko would be a good one. It's a small restaurant, kind of dark inside, with nothing that would make one seat better than another (unless you end up near the cheese cart, which I always enjoy). I'm sure you'll be happy with whatever table you get. Have a great time!

                      1. re: LaurenJ3384

                        I'll agree with a previous recommendation for the Dining Room at the Ritz if you're staying in SF.

                      2. re: hungryfina

                        Gary Danko is fine dining for the masses. If you like pedestrian protein on a veg set-up with a few gratuitious garnishes (my favorite: diced red bell pepper!) you will be happy. Don't hesitate, throw a navy blazer on over those Dockers and go!

                        If you want to step out of the box, go to Ritz, Masa's or Mina.

                        By the way, there was a great review of Masa's recently on Check Please, Bay Area.

                      3. You might consider adding the Dining Room at the Ritz, Acquerello, and Coi to your list of possibiliies.

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: rworange

                            That explains the dated-sounding list. It's dated!

                        1. BOULEVARD is excellent and was a recipient of a 2010 James Beard award for Best Restaurant. Atmosphere and food were amazing.

                          1. FdL has been consistently getting mediocre reviews since Keller opened an off-shoot in Vegas, though the best experience I've had dining in SF was at FdL prior to said venture. Of those you list, I would chose Danko.

                            BUT, why isn't La Folie or Coi on your list? For more traditional Provencal French La Folie is phenomenal. Coi is cutting edge and sure to stimulate your brain.

                            EDIT: Note to self, check the YEAR of the original post before responding!!!!!!!!

                            La Folie
                            2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                            1. I've been to all of these restaurants in the past few years, and I think that they were all overshadowed by the Dining Room at the Ritz. If I were to rank them:
                              1) Dining Room at the Ritz - Ron Siegel gave me one of the best meals in my life, comparable to French Laundry and Manresa, IMO. I still don't know why this restaurant only has one Michelin star, may the Michelin guys don't like how it has a slight Japanese influence.
                              2) Gary Danko - This place is just consistently good. Probably one of the best restaurants for someone picky, since you can do any combo of appetizers/entrees/desserts from the menu (For our 5-course, I picked 2 appetizers, skipped the fish course, then meat, cheese, and dessert, hubby had 2 meats and skipped dessert). Probably the best cheese cart in the city, if that matters to you.
                              3) Michael Mina - I like the fact that they do a "trio" of every course, even the amuse, so you wind up getting 12 different tastes with their 3-course menu. If you and your wife order differently (like my hubby and I did when we were last there last year), then you get the same 3 amuses-bouche, plus 9 different tastes each, so that's 21 different courses. Good if you just want lots of variety.
                              4) La Folie/Fleur de Lys - Fleur de Lys is very romantic if you do get to go to the tented room like others mentioned, but I think La Folie is a better option. Like Gary Danko, they both let you mix/match between appetizers/fish/meat/cheese/dessert courses. I think that for the money though, La Folie gives you better portions (largest piece of seared foie gras I've had in a restaurant) and has better food in general. Plus you can go to Fleur de Lys (and other Hubert Keller restaurants) in Vegas while La Folie is only in SF.
                              5) Masa's - This place may have been good when Ron Seigel was there, but I thought it was kind of meh, a pale imitation of what Seigel does at the Ritz. I also thought it was not a good value in general ($175 for the 9-course vs $125 at the Ritz). We have spent big bucks at other places (French Laundry, Manresa, etc.) and thought it was worth the ginormous bill at those places, but that is not the case for this restaurant. I thought this was a waste of money and wished I could have gone to Gary Danko twice instead of going here.

                              I'd say if you were only doing one pricey meal, go to the Ritz and get the full tasting menu ($125/pp). For two meals, get the tasting menu at the Ritz ($125) and then either the 3, 4, or 5-course menus at Gary Danko($68/$85/$102) or La Folie ($70/$80/$90), depending on how much you want to spend. If you get the 3-course at Gary Danko and the 9-course at the Ritz, you would only spend slightly more than you would at Masa's (and much less than what you would spend at French Laundry) and have 2 great meals.

                              Have a great time in San Francisco! :-)

                              Manresa Restaurant
                              320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                              The French Laundry
                              6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                              La Folie
                              2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                              Gary Danko
                              800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                              Masa's Restaurant
                              648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: arlenemae

                                Great roundup of the high-end choice.

                                1. re: bbulkow

                                  Glad to have a 2010 update for this thread.

                              2. La Folie. One of the best meals of my life. Maybe not as well known as French Laundry, Daniel, or Spiaggia but well worth your time.

                                The French Laundry
                                6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                                La Folie
                                2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109