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Jun 25, 2007 05:19 PM

No Holds Barred - Best Food in SF


My wife and I are flying up to SF this weekend. This is a SUPER rare event for us to have a weekend off with the kids at the grandparents. I have several restaurants in SF that I've been regular at in the past, but am looking for potentially new recommendations. My standbys have been La Folie (I LOVE), Michael Mina (GREAT), Gary Danko (Really Depends), and many more of the higher end establishments.

I haven't been to SF in several months (maybe a year?), so may be a bit behind the curve.

We're staying at the St. Regis, and have no problem cabbing it around if need be.

I'm also bringing several bottles of wine up with me. We are fairly avid wine collectors, so will have some really serious high end wines with us.

So can you please recommend some of the best food possible in SF? Price no object? I'm willing to go $500 per person on food only if need be. A BIG plus would be to have the places open to us bringing some of our own wines. We would only open one or two bottles of our own and definitely buy one from the house. I don't mind paying for corkage up to $75 per bottle (maybe more), so the corkage doesn't have to be cheap, just available. I also can ASSURE the restaurant that the wines I bring will be extraordinary and not currently on their lists.

Any suggestions?

Thanks for your help, and will definitely post some detailed reviews afterwards.

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  1. Have you been to The Dining Room at the Ritz? In addition to Ron Siegel's wonderful tasting menu, there are different types of tasting menus so the restaurant might direct you to the one most appropriate to the wine. Also if you called ahead and told them the wine you are bringing they might be able to tailor the food toward that.

    1. We do a lot of high-end dining, but ai cannot imagine spending

      Are you kidding? $500 for food per person? I don't know where in SF you could do this. You can dine very well for one-fifth this, and have accomodations made for your wine.

      25 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        You could do that at the French Laundry...just order all the supplements and 4 bottles of wine. Barring that...yeah I agree. The mid-range (under $40 p/per) is pretty darn good.

        1. re: pikawicca

          Normally I would agree with you that great food is possible for way less. However, I've had several/many meals in that food only price range. All were, as you would expect/demand for that price, Spectacular.

          Most times these were extremely high end omakase sushi meals with tons of rare ingredients and 25+ courses. Or were ridiculously extravagant tasting menus with lots of truffles, caviar, foie, etc... Again, the rarity vs. the norm.

          I'm not saying I need to spend that kind of money, just saying that if such an experience reliably exists in SF, then we might want to give it a whirl.

          1. re: woojink

            For mind-blowing (or close) I'd look into The French Laundry, Dining Room at the Ritz and Manresa. Those are the only ones not mentioned yet...although Manresa and the Dining are pretty relatively reasonable at about $125 p/per for the tasting menu. Of these, I think Manresa might be the hottest ticket at the moment.

            1. re: ML8000

              I'd really prefer to stay in the city. Do you know how wine friendly in terms of corkage The Dining Room is?

              I've eaten Ron Siegel's food at both Masa and the Nob Hill place as well as at the Masters of Food and Wine, so am very familiar with his style and cooking, so that is good.

              I'm actually pals with one of the original chefs that opened Manresa with David, and know the meal there would be fantastic, but it's a bit of a hike, and would prefer to stay in the city.

              1. re: woojink

                You should also consider Daniel Patterson's new restaurant: Coi.

                The Dining Room at the Ritz enforces a two bottle per table maximum on BYOB.

            2. re: woojink

              Not to hijack this thread, but can you or anyone else give me recs for restaurants in San Francisco with course that are 10+ other than the Dining Room? Well, great food too, of course. Gary Danko and F de L are up to 5 courses, and Michael Minna's looks like a three-course meal. Thanks.

              1. re: boltnut55

                I was at Campton Place on Friday night -- I had a time-restriction as I had to get to a play but inside of two hours, I got upwards of 8 amazing courses with wine pairings. I'm sure if there were time, they could have easily kept serving me! I almost wanted to skip the play!

                1. re: boltnut55

                  Seven courses is often ten or more with amuse and other unlisted extras. Last year, places offering menus with more than five courses (before extras) included:

                  Manresa: 9+
                  French Laundry: 9
                  Masa's: 9
                  Dining Room at the Ritz: 9
                  Aqua: 7
                  Michael Mina: 6-7
                  Campton Place: 6

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Can you actually eat this much food? I gag just reading these posts, and you do not seem to be an "eat all you can" type of guy. I've spent $200.00 per person (minus wine) and can't imagine $500.00. What are these people eating?

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      It's not necessarily a lot of food. The servings in the long tasting menus I've had have been small enough that I was just pleasantly full at the end.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        But have you really spent $500 on food anywherere in SF?

                        1. re: pikawicca

                          Per person, not close. ML8000 said $500 but that was including wine at French Laundry.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            You could spent $500 p/per at FL...but you'd really have to try.

                            The standard tasting menu is $240 (including gratuity). If you got every supplement you might get it up to $300, so then you'd have to spend $200 p/per on wine and drinks. For a couple that's about 4 bottles of wine. Sure you could do it but you'd be sloshed.

                            1. re: ML8000

                              I dont think this dood is set on spending $500.
                              The point is that for him there is no $ constraint ...
                              and he's laid down the $500 marker to show he
                              knows what he is getting into.

                              In contrast to people who say vague things like
                              "willing to splurge if it is worth it" or "willing to
                              go somewhere nice, but i am in grad school".

                              Nobody has suggested a $200 taxi ride to Manresa?

                              I'd go with the Ritz Carlton too. I liked the serivice
                              at Campton Place better, but I havent been there since
                              Humm left for NYC.

                              I think it is hilarious some people are telling him he doesnt
                              even have to bother leaving his hotel [Ame] and other are
                              telling him to drive +1hr [FL, Cyrus, Manresa].

                              Does anybody actually have corkage above $50?

                                1. re: psb

                                  Oh it's all "pub and pints" talk. In this case it's about food instead of if Mike Ditka could beat Green Bay by himself, although in theory you can spend $500 per at FL. However that much wine is sort of excessive. I've had 5 bottles of wine/champagne btw 6 people at FL and we were sloshed...didn't remember the second half of the meal but it was fun.

                                  $200 limo ride to Manresa is a good idea.

                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    Including wine, there are lots of places I could spend well over $500 a head if somebody with deep pockets was picking up the check.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Just as a fun data point, the wine pairing at THE FAT DUCK:

                                      >Selection of wines by the glass to accompany this menu,
                                      >Available per person at £90, £145 or £295 (min. two people)
                                      The USD-GBP conversion rate is pretty much exactly 2x today.
                                      So the tasting menu with the gonzo wine pairing rings in at just
                                      over $800 pax, plus an "optional" 12.5% service charge ... which
                                      brings it to about $925.

                                      BTW, the last time I was at the Rtiz Carlton/SF, it was "prime time" on
                                      a Friday night and it wasnt that full, so unless there is a load spike in
                                      the summer, I think getting in there should be ok. The men and women
                                      got mostly disjoint tasting menus so we got to try lots of stuff ... that was
                                      great. Non-great was when a couple of days later my associate discovered
                                      we were overcharged ~$90. It possible also the mistake was they just forgot
                                      one of our wines or something like that. I dont remember exactly.
                                      Doveriai, no proveriai.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Robert is absolutely correct. These meals take a long time, and the courses are quite small. At the best of these places, you are not at all stuffed

                          3. re: pikawicca

                            Six weeks ago I did 22 courses at Manresa. It took 6+ hours. Honestly, I would have been happy with 8 or 10 of their best courses in half the time, but these are the types of meals one does not do every week.

                            1. re: Carrie 218

                              Sounds like fun... interestingly, one of the chefs from when Manresa FIRST opened is now working as Exec in my neck of the woods in LA at a restaurant called Opus,... TERRIFIC place. One of my first meals at Opus was a 31 course crazy extravanganza... insane.

                            2. re: pikawicca

                              I felt like French Laundry was a bit of a food marathon. Delicious, but between the food and wine, I was wiped out afterwards...

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                In my one experience which was in the Dining Room, other than the three main dishes, the rest were almost bite size... OK, two bites worth each course. The main dish were probably a couple of ounces of whatever the protein was (it included duck and beef, but I forgot what the others were). For example, I remember the sorbet being the size of a pearl onion.

                                It took us 4 hours from the time we sat down until the time we left. :-) I was a very happy person that night.

                              2. re: boltnut55

                                Thank you everyone for your suggestions! I'm really looking forward to wherever I'll be going (in September!), and I'll try to post. Last time I was in awe and didn't ask for a copy of the menu or had anything to write with... I don't know how you all remember these things when you're eating.

                          4. I can't quite tell from your post whether you want to hear about only the high end places or not. The Dining Room at the Ritz is wonderful, as is Fleur de Lys. You may also want to check out Ame, which is in your hotel. Funny, I can always think of lots of good restaurants, but when someone says "the best", I am always a bit flummoxed...I haven't been to Fifth Floor or Campton Place since chef changes, you may want to check those out - I have no idea what kind of recs they get these days. Are you interested in something less pricey or do you want to stay in the top tier price-wise?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: dinnerout

                              How could I forget Quince, you should definitely check that out as well. We enjoyed Myth also, which is less pricey so maybe not what you are looking for, but worth checking out. I don't usually bring my own wine, so I can't help at all with the corkage issue.

                              1. re: dinnerout

                                I was at Campton Place on Friday night and it was exceptional. I'll be doing a full write-up in the next day or so but for me right now, this has moved into my Top Five. Amazing meal.

                                1. re: dinnerout

                                  Fifth Floor's chef left at the end of last year and they still haven't hired a replacement.

                                2. You will need to check out the corkage situation.. I found it easier to bring your own wine easier in LA and share with the chef.. but it's different here - You did not mention what wines you are focusing on. Here are some suggestions-
                                  The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton
                                  Oliveto- in Oakland
                                  Scott Howard- I have not been but have heard great things
                                  Acme - again I have not been

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Lori SF

                                    I've been bringing my own wines to every restaurant for damn near ever. For years I asked if it was OK when I reserved, but in the era of Open Table, I don't even bother.

                                    Please, please don't post absurd corkage fees and give restaurants the idea they can charge as much as or more than food!

                                  2. If SF proper is a prerequisite, and you're looking for big city glitz (think Michael Mina, or Jean George in NYC), then don't forget about Aqua. For what i think you're looking for, Aqua may be as good an option as the Ritz or Fleur de Lys. Keep in mind that Aqua was one of only two restaurants (the other being Michael Mina) in SF proper that earned two Michelin Stars.

                                    However, given the fact that you're willing to pay $1K all in, it does pain me that you're not willing to travel to yountville (or even Los Gatos, for that matter).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: mikelbower

                                      Been to Aqua many times... back when MM was exec chef there, and also after he left.

                                      Just a short weekend trip, but will hit Los Gatos and Y-ville when we have more time.