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TOP FIVE TASTING MENUS in SF

Hello my fellow Chowhounders,

My fiance and I are celebrating our anniversary, and I have been dying to try a tasting menu that will just enhance how special the night is. So I am asking for your help by listing your top 5 tasting menus in SF or surrounding areas. We welcome any type of cuisine, as long as it is absolutely delicious, and well worth the money spent. Wine pairing in not required, but would be a plus. So thank you for your recommendations. I look forward to reading them.

Sincerely,
AmbianceMe

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  1. Five that get a lot of mentions:

    French Laundry [near impossible to get into though...and remote]
    Gary Danko
    Manresa [Los Gatos]
    Ritz Carlton Dining Room
    Chez Panisse

    1 Reply
    1. re: grishnackh

      Chez Panisse doesn't have a tasting menu. Downstairs it's a four-course prix fixe, upstairs it's a la carte.

    2. The Dining Room, Ritz Carlton (Cal-French with heavy Asian accent)
      Kiss (Japanese)
      Aziza (Morrocan)
      I am drawing a blank on the other two. Was not wowed by my Mina meal. It has been too long since I ate at the others to make a fair assessment.

      Here are some photos of 3 tasting menus:
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/388125

      And then obviously French Laundry...

      1. My personal choices would be....

        Cyrus (Healdsburg) - my personal top choice
        The French Laundry (Yountville)
        Manresa (Los Gatos)
        Gary Danko (SF)
        The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton

        1. Easy question, listed in order of preference:

          1. French Laundry (can't do better in the USA - in Yountville Napa Valley)
          2. Manresa (excellent & creative but also not in SF [it is in Los Gatos])
          3. Coi (devoted to fresh local ingredients / some El Bulli techniques / mild japanese influence)
          4. Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton (excellent food and service, but doesn't show the creativity of the three above)
          5. Michael Mina (no where near the other four. lots of "stuff three-ways," expensive ingredients, less than compelling food).

          3 Replies
          1. re: Paul H

            I like Paul's analysis but I'd flip flop his 1 and 2.

            1. Manresa: excellent, creative, and the head chef is in the kitchen cooking. Behind the scenes, he's working with his garden and local farmers to take his menu up to another level and challenge TFL for top restaurant in northern California, if not top restaurant in the country.. I'd put Kinch's creativity on par with anyone in NYC or Yountville.

            2. French Laundry. Has all the trappings of a top flight restaurant but the food didn't wow me any more than any other high end restaurant in the country. Their lack of wine pairing really bothers me. It feels as if the place is on auto pilot and not bothering to make the effort anymore. I found myself more wowed at Manresa. The truffled egg is outrageously good though.

            3. Redd. In some ways, I like Redd better than TFL. It's not as formal in setting or presentation but the food is delicious (hamachi with sticky rice, caramelized pork belly, and any fish prep) and Chef Reddington is still in the kitchen. The tasting with wine pairing is a relative deal.

            4. Gary Danko. Not innovative or cutting edge, but safe. The tasting and wine pairing is a good "deal"

            5. Dining Room. I agree that the food was pretty good and agree that it was not as creative as I would have expected from Siegel. The Salt and Pepper Tasting, when it was available, almost looked good enough for me to return.

            Michael Mina. I agree that despite the "prep 3 ways" it's overpriced and not worth it.

            1. re: Porthos

              that egg is amazing!! have had it a couple times now and it never fails to wow me. kinch is very creative, the courses are of the right size and the variety is wonderful. great technique, great products and a chef who is there watching the food make for a super meal.

              1. re: winterorchid

                I was actually referring to TFL's truffled egg. You're absolutely right though, Manresa's sherry egg is amazing in its own right.

          2. Another vote for Cyrus in Healdsburg.

            I've had the tasting menu at Redd a few times and very much enjoyed the food, but I'm not a fan of the ambiance.

            I have enjoyed the tasting menu at Quince in SF--fantastic service and perfect ambiance for an anniversary.

            1. The Dining Room at the Ritz Carleton ... lovely champagne cart too and top wine pairing.
              Michael Minna
              Aziza ... sure ... great food, romantic, though not an actual tasting menu.

              I just don't think the French Laundry is as good food-wise as The Dining Room. For the money, I'd spend the money for a room at the Ritz and stroll down to dinner not worrying about have to drive and enjoy the wine and food.

              Gary Danko I find grim and boring.

              I like downstairs at Chez Panise and it would be a special evening, but as Robert mentioned ... it is not a tasting menu.

              1. My wife and I had a wonderful tasting menu meal with wine pairing at Jardiniere last month. We were impressed with all aspects of the restaurant including the creativity of the food, the execution, the exceptional wine choices and the top notch service. We were there on a Monday night and the restaurant was perhaps half full; this certainly allowed the staff to take a very relaxed approach to the timing of our meal. We were able to enjoy a very leisurely cocktail at the bar and then had a very nicely paced dinner.

                I haven't been in town long enough to be able to list a top 5 tasting menus, but we were absolutely thrilled with Jardiniere and can't wait to go back

                1 Reply
                1. re: ccbweb

                  My wife and I do tasting menus most years for our anniversary.

                  Best had to be French Laundry, about 10 years ago. But that isn't in SF
                  About four years ago we did Fleur de Lys, which was fabulous.

                  Last year I emailed Myth and explained the anniversary and asked for a tasting menu. They set us up, and gave us a table "in the back", which overlooked the restaurant. They asked if we wanted to know the menu, or be suprised, and the sommelier asked if we wanted wine matched to each course or not, and got our preferences. The service was great and we really felt special. And the food was really fabulous as well. We had never been before, but I'm tempted to go back this year!