Dinner for 4, ex-San Franciscan needs guidance
Well, ex-Bay Area, at least... ;-)
My husband and I are going wine tasting with friends over St Patrick's Day weekend and we're trying to plan a dinner in the city for Friday night. We're on the waitlist to get into Chez Panisse (we've been, they haven't). We're also on the waitlist for French Laundry for Saturday night (crossing all fingers and toes on that one).
Anyway, here's the deal:
we like to eat - we like to drink - we want somewhere to eat in the city that will provide a good meal, good cocktails (since we're wine tasting all weekend, I doubt we'll be on the wine train Friday night). I want somewhere "cool" but that's way less important than the food. I'm a little behind on restaurants these days (we've been in LA now for 4 years) so I am looking for help. In terms of the type of places I'm thinking, we've been to:
Boulevard (multiple times)
I wouldn't mind somewhere like Masas - or something similar - but I'd kind of rather do something a little less formal and a little more funky - maybe even high end ethnic? (I'd love to do Slanted Door, but we can't get a table, already tried). A place with a good bar would be a plus, but I don't want to eat *at* the bar. I guess I'm interesting in getting beyond French, and I'm not sure we want to do Italian - and def. not in the North Beach sense. Maybe really high end/fusion chinese (leaning towards either Mandarin or Shanghai style, not Cantonese)?
Where should we go? And as an aside, is the Tonga Room fun and worth it for drinks?
We're not staying in the city, just passing through, so location is really no barrier, and I'd like to keep it below $100pp (not including alcohol) so that if we *do* get into FL Saturday, we can afford to eat the following week...
NOPA is good but nothing you can't cook yourself if you're a foodie.
If you don't get in to Panisse or FL, FLeur de Lys or La Folie are both excellent high end French. I just took my husband to Ame for his birthday and that, too, was very good (with an ethnic flair from Wine Country chef Hiro Sone).
Absolutely agree with the person who suggested Piperade. Fantastic Basque food in a cozy, mellow ambiance.
For fusion and "cool" I'd go to Bambuddha Lounge. On St. Patrick's day, you should have no problem getting a reservation at an Asian restaurant.