Gateway Dinner to Wine Country
Need help for a family reunion of sorts. (just 4 of us)
I live in L.A. and am a bit of an aspiring chef. My dad lives in Washington D.C. and used to manage a winery. (I was surprised to find that Virginia wine could be quite good) I haven't seen him in almost 10 years. It'll be my first time meeting his new wife and his first time meeting my girlfriend.
We're going to meet up in San Francisco the first week of July and then venture up to Napa/Sonoma.
Any recommendations for the perfect restaurant in the Bay Area to show off California Cuisine and launch our trip to wine country? Price is not a concern nor is location.
I could also use suggestions for wine bars. ;-)
I was thinking Chez Panisse and maybe Vino Venue (Mission & 3rd). Let me know what you think!
I guess the only downside to Chez Panisse is that your entire party will be eating exactly the same thing -- I am a big proponent of sharing and if you choose another restaurant, there will be more opportunity for everyone to order something different and get a wider variety in your tasting of California Cuisine.
In that regard, I would suggest Boulevard, Piperade, Myth, and Aziza (which is not really California Cuisine, but truly innovative).
Search around the boards for Napa/Sonoma and you will get more than enough recommendations.
re: Carrie 218
If you go to the cafe at Chez Panisse dishes can be ordered a la carte. I'm not that knowlegable about wine and even I wouldn't send anyone to Vino Venue.
IMO, Chez Panisse is the top example of California Cuisine ... upstairs or down. For a great tasting menu and wonderful wine pairings there is The Dining Room at the Ritz.
Seems like a good "gateway" dinner would be a restaurant that serves California cuisine AND have a wine tasting menu. Not sure who would have the best examples, but doesn't Michael Mina have a wine tasting menu? Also, I think Plumpjack Cafe might be a good place to look into for a place that has a nice buzz, for food and wine.
If you are open to waiting until you hit Napa, I love, love, love "Redd" in Yountville. Excellent restaurant. I bet Ad Hoc is good too - if your dad loves food, the style of Ad Hoc might be a real treat for him...
Can't beat Chez Panisse for California cuisine.
My favorite SF wine bars:
District (maybe avoid on Friday evenings)
WINE Bar & Shop
Vino Venue's interesting to visit once. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/363275
I used to go to Vino Venue all the time because a friend of mine used to work there. It's fun because you're always trying something new, but it's difficult to converse with the people you came with because you're constantly walking around getting more pours. And, more often than not, the only education you get in the process is reading the description above the bottle. I also find the seating a bit uncomfortable. Two places I've tried in the past few weeks that I really enjoy are District SF (in SOMA) and Amelie (Russian Hill). California Wine Merchants is also a great choice.
District has one of the best selections of wines in town, but but at least on Friday nights it's packed like a nightclub. WINE and Cav also have long and interesting by-the-glass lists and usually knowledgeable staff.
Amelie, I was not at all impressed with the wines. And it's packed like a nightclub Friday, Saturday, and maybe Thursday and Sunday nights as well.