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Jan 5, 2008 05:17 PM

Birthday Dinner Recs in San Fran

Last March, this Midwest hound had a very memorable birthday dinner at Boulevard, on the recommendation of the San Fran hounds here. Now, my partner and I will be returning to the Bay Area for her birthday, in May (and yes, believe me when I say there's good reason to start looking for a place this far in advance....It's nearly impossible to find a restaurant she likes), and while she very much enjoyed Boulevard as well, she wants to try somewhere else for her big night out.

We'll be staying in Japantown at the Hotel Kabuki (formerly the Miyako), with no car, so our destination will have to be within an fair cab ride. Looking for somewhere that's romantic, primarily steak and seafood, with killer desserts. Hoping to spend around $75/pp before tip for three courses and a drink or two apiece.

Any suggestions? The soon to open Waterbar looks interesting to me. I know they'll have primarily seafood... any idea if they're doing steaks as well?

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  1. Welcome back!
    Based on what I have read my assumption with Waterbar is that it will be all fish. There will be tanks in the kitchen with both fresh and saltwater fish with seafood from global sources. Sounds like the way the kitchen is set up this is the focus.

    BIX might be a consideration- the menu covers both seafood and steak options (Kobe beef) and really good desserts; it’s a very romantic restaurant especially if you request one of the booths on the balcony, very clubby old school atmosphere. Take a look at their menu. This is just one thought.

    Would you be up for going over to the East Bay to Chez Panisse? There is enough time to make the reservation if you do it now.

    My new favorite place is 1300 Filmore good food with nice vibe. You could just get bar bites at the bar if you choose not to eat there. Check it out when you are here and get a show in at Yoshi's next door for a great live music experience.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Lori SF

      Thanks, Lori! We're both very, very excited about coming back to the city! Our last trip saw us nearly ready to pack up and move out there on the spot! Now we have a five year plan to do that :)

      And now you'll see why it's going to take me every moment of the next five months to find a place she'll agree to. I'd love to go to Chez Panisse, but with their constantly changing menu, it'd be a total crapshoot as to whether or not there'd be something on the menu she'll eat. She's extremely picky, which can prove very, very frustrating at times. Right now, we're hoping for Waterbar, with Bix in the lead of what we do have as possible places. She was gung ho for Bix until she found out what “Bavette” steak is. Then she decided it didn't sound so appealing.

      I was looking at 1300 Filmore earlier, and it looks like a place we'll definitely be checking out!

      1. re: DarkRose

        Another suggestion I forgot to mention is- Cafe Majestic would be a great place! Very romantic and the food is wonderful. I passed on desserts so again I cannot comment. Here is a sample menu-

      2. re: Lori SF

        I will second Bix for a special evening that would fit the bill. I live in Japantown and the cab drive to Bix is about $10 and they make stunning Sidecars.

        There are a lot of fabulous restaurants walking distance from Japantown (but not quite what you are describing for your big night). SPQR is one of the best in the city for informal Roman/Italian food, Kiss and Kappa for the best Japanese (both require reservations), and Vivande for *the* best fettuccine in the city.

        1. re: Carrie 218

          Ditto on all of those recommendations, they can be places to check out within walking distance from where you are staying. Beside the fettuccine I just had at home Vivande is to die for.
          Darkrose your picky partner will like 1300 Filmore, I would go sit at the bar and order a couple dishes and have some drinks. Maybe have a real lunch or dinner at SPQR.
          Well we have lots of time to play and boil it down for you. FYI- BIX is one of a kind.

          1. re: Lori SF

            I was just checking out the 1300 Filmore menu and it looks like a definite winner! Any idea of what they offer for desserts?

            And yes, five months give or take to get things sorted. I know it seems excessive to start planning this far out, but... I know a lot of the best places book up fast, it's going to be over a holiday weekend that we're there, and it's just... nearly impossible for her to find a menu she likes. If it doesn't make her go OMG WE HAVE TO GO THERE... we pretty much don't, not when it's a higher end place.

            1. re: DarkRose

              Sorry I don't. Just had some dishes at the bar to catch a show at Yoshi's but I plan on going back soon. Maybe someone can add to this.

      3. Pat Kuleto is actually opening two restaurants connected by a plaza at the same location, Waterbar and Epic Roast House. Waterbar will indeed feature seafood, while Epic Roast House "will specialize in all types of meats and birds" according to Eater SF.. The plaza between them will be shared for outdoor dining, so maybe surf will schmooze with turf.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Xiao Yang

          Thanks for the info! I'm going to be keeping an eye on the board for more info on these two!

          1. re: DarkRose

            DarkRose, 1300 Fillmore has only been open a few weeks. Even those of us that have dined there are still holding our breath to see if it holds up or not. That is why Bix is a great back-up as it has been around with consistently tried-and-true results. 1300 Fillmore *might* be a flash in the pan or not maintain its opening kudos.

            1. re: Carrie 218

              Thanks for the heads up, Carrie. I showed the menu to my partner this morning thinking she'd like that there's a filet on the menu, but she poo-poohed it. Right now we're saying we're going with Bix, and will see what else is out there. But this is what can be so frustrating about being with an uber picky eater. There's a lot of places out there I'm DYING to try, but would have to do so alone because she turns her nose up at everything.

              1. re: DarkRose

                Sorry the menu didn't appeal to the birthday girl, but 1300 Fillmore is quite reliable. I can report on three dinners (yeah, we really really like it), most recently January 7. All very consistent.

                1. re: goingoutagain

                  Sorry to say there is a definite downhill report going on with 1300 Fillmore. My recent visit was pretty horrible and I had a large group of friends there a week or so ago and all were disappointed. I think they were great out of the gate but are likely to not stand the test of time unless they fix LOTS of problems.

                  1. re: Carrie 218

                    The Chron reviewed 1300 Fillmore positively on January 13. Places are often thrown for a loop by the sudden spike in business. Sometimes things fade back to normal after a month or so.

            2. re: DarkRose

              I just made a reservation today for Epic Roasthouse on 2/2 so I'll try to remember to post a report afterward. It does open on Tuesday (1/29?) and I think Waterbar opens on the same day. I love Jan Birnbaum, the chef at Epic Roasthouse - his former restaurant in Calistoga, Catahoula, was incredible the few times (three I think) I ate there. Good luck with your trip plans!

              1. re: atjsfo

                Epic Roasthouse is aleady having "friends and family" seatings, and some reviews are starting to show up on Yelp. There is a $500 pp charity event open to the public on Friday, according to the Tablehopper Newsletter, and the official public opening is the 29th.

          2. FYI, the grapevine tells me that Waterbar will open on January 29.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Xiao Yang

              Thanks for the head;s up, Xiao Yang :) I'll keep an eye out for the site to be updated! I'm eager to see what the menu looks like.