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Pre Opera Dining?

It has been a while since we have been to SF for the opera, but will be doing so soon. What are the best bets for pre-opera dining these days?

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  1. Jardiniere, Hayes St Grill, and Absinthe are the usual suspects. There are a large number of restaurants in the area, if you'd like to give us some more specific parameters.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maya

      Jardiniere is It for me. It is pricey, but one is paying for great food (Chronical Top 100), service, and ambience. He/she will know how much you love her/him.

      We sometimes goes to the Max's Opera Cafe at the Opera Plaza for more casual American fares.

    2. Zoya
      465 Grove Street
      San Francisco, California 94102
      415.626.9692

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cynsa

        Zoya rocks, and the owners are so nice.

        1. re: ngardet

          Zoya kicks ass. well priced, and john the chef rulez

        2. re: Cynsa

          I tried to go to Zoya for dinner before the ballet Friday night. Got there at 6 p.m. and they wouldn't take me without a reservation. The bar area was totally empty with just one couple but they wouldn't let me sit there because they said the kitchen was overwhelmed just trying to feed the people with reservations. It looks like a small kitchen.

          Seems like the best advice about pre-ballet or pre-opera dining in Hayes is to make sure you have reservations.

          FYI, I ended up going to Sebo for sushi on Hayes. It was nice and quiet and empty that early in the evening, so didn't have a problem getting in without a reservation. The sushi is great, but pricey. Danny, the sushi chef, is friendly and has these great tattoos. ;-)

          1. re: christineb

            The only thing about Absinthe is that they're really snooty about time. So if you're not seated by 6 p.m. for an 8 p.m. show, then they're not going to seat you.

            Paul k is also a nice alternative. Modern Tea is a casual dining room if you don't feel like a fuss.

            1. re: singleguychef

              I recommend reservations for Modern Tea for a pre-performance meal, though. It's pretty popular for early dinners. I heartily recommend the tangy buttermilk cake dessert with a pot of tea.

              Modern Tea
              602 Hayes Street

              1. re: singleguychef

                That's not snooty, it's professional. If they don't allow enough time, they can't guarantee that they'll get pre-concert customers fed in time.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Yeah, the Hayes Valley restaurants have to run kind of a tight ship, just because all the performances force somewhat idiosyncratic seating patterns. If they weren't more careful about this, we'd be hearing a lot more complaints from diners missing first acts and such.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    If they were nice about it and explained it that way, I wouldn't mind. But the general response is often: "Are you going to the opera or ballet?" And if you say yes, they say "Sorry, you're too late for a seating." And then it's buh-bye. If they said something like, "Sorry, but we want to make sure you get fed without feeling rushed, so we don't recommend a seating at this time." Then I would be more understanding.

                    1. re: singleguychef

                      That would invite responses such as, "Oh, we can be in and out in an hour, no problem." They can't say anything that implies the policy is open to negotiation.

              2. It depends on what you want. We prefer to eat a light meal before the opera or symphony, so we usually stop by Arlequin (next door to and owned by the same people as Absinthe, same pastry chef, too). In particular they have great panini. We've also had nice meals at A La Turca, although that could be strategically a bit more difficult as it requires parking twice. We haven't had a problem though. (In street clothes we'd park once and walk without thinking twice, but I don't walk that kind of distance in heels.)

                For fancier, most options have been mentioned already, except for Bistro Clovis, where I have always found the food to be delicious and the service gracious.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Euonymous

                  Oh, I tried Bistro Clovis once because of the location and the charming French feel. But I have to say I wasn't that impressed. I felt it was a step below any of the other restaurants mentioned above. The execution of the dishes were very flat and the food didn't feel vibrant or fresh.

                2. For a more casual, off the radar place, I like Il Borgo. And it won't be as crowded as the other places...

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43365...

                  1. Cav Wine Bar is really lovely. I have been there twice now and both times perfect experience and nice service.

                    http://www.cavwinebar.com/

                    1. I second Paul K, although when it gets busy, the service can get a little rough around th edges. I also like Bistro Clovis, even though one person described it as flat. It's not the most exciting restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, but it's reliable in the way that European restaurants are . . . the menu doesn't change much, the execution is consistent, the service is gracious but not intrusive, and the price is right.