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Visiting SF ~ Slanted Door?

k
kweesee Jan 7, 2008 06:33 PM

I'm visiting SF next weekend and will have 2 dinners and 3 lunches available. I'm contemplating Slated Door for Saturday night - is it worth one of my two dinners in SF?

  1. w
    walker Jan 7, 2008 07:18 PM

    I, and many others, like this place a lot. The fish is impeccably fresh. Do you already have a reservation? It's always hard to get one. If you don't already have one, perhaps you could get there right before dinner or lunch service.

    1 Reply
    1. re: walker
      Lori SF Jan 10, 2008 01:16 PM

      As much as I wanted to hate it (missing their first local in the Mission) I have gone there with my vendors from out of town and they still talk about it, I was suprised that I liked some of the dishes as well. Its more of a California/Vietnamese fusion than anything else, but who knows maybe somewhere in Vietnam they are doing a similar style. What bothers me the most is the interior, here they have the most amazing real estate and that is what they came up with, it just looks cheap and cold.

      Yes you can get authentic Vietnamese elsewhere but nothing exceptional in the city, need to go to the South Bay.

    2. j
      jjbourgeois Jan 7, 2008 07:21 PM

      I'll second the Slanted Door. Was there in August (Live in Boston, so I can't get there on a regular basis) found the fish very fresh. Some great flavors and good service. But definitely get a reservation.

      1. c
        Concetta Jan 8, 2008 09:01 AM

        If you can't get in at dinner, go for lunch and try to get a seat at the bar. You'll be able to hear each other at the bar (the acoustics in the dining room are terrible) and won't get rushed out.

        1. u
          uptown jimmy Jan 8, 2008 10:23 AM

          Overrated, IMO. Beautiful space, though. The food was good, not rave-worthy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: uptown jimmy
            k
            kweesee Jan 8, 2008 05:09 PM

            my local SF friend also says that its way overpriced and there are other trendy viet places that she likes more.

          2. r
            rahir Jan 8, 2008 10:53 AM

            I've never found Slanted Door to live up to the hype. It's fun to go once for the experience, but don't expect too much. Oh, and the wine always seems way overpriced.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rahir
              k
              klyeoh Jan 8, 2008 04:45 PM

              I'd second that. After experiencing really wonderful food in Vietnam, Slanted Door's offerings seemed like a pale, plasticky imitation of the real thing. But a visit to the Ferry Building is unmissable, especially on a Saturday.

            2. m
              mitcha Jan 8, 2008 01:54 PM

              I too agree, it's overrated and overpriced, but has a great scene and view. If your in the Ferry Building check out Hog Island Oyster Co, it's awesome!

              1. Honey Bee Jan 8, 2008 01:58 PM

                I have not found SD to be be as good as my neighborhood Vietnamese spot. My best dinners on my recent trip to SF were at Range and Bar Crudo.

                1. Carrie 218 Jan 8, 2008 05:10 PM

                  Count me as a Slanted Door detractor. I find the food to be mostly overly sweet OR overly spicy and generally inconsistent. The atmosphere is crowded, loud, and generally rushed. I think the prices are too high for what you get and we have much better restaurants with more relaxed atmospheres and better food in the city.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Carrie 218
                    u
                    uptown jimmy Jan 8, 2008 05:20 PM

                    Precisely, Carrie. Lots of flash, little to distinguish it culinarily. Definitely a place to see and be seen.

                    1. re: uptown jimmy
                      k
                      kai27 Jan 8, 2008 05:28 PM

                      I think it is good and is a great place to take out of towners because the atmosphere is beautiful. The Ferry building is fun to stroll around.

                  2. k
                    kweesee Jan 8, 2008 06:50 PM

                    thanks guys, we're thinking about going to ISA and universal cafe and still researching for more.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: kweesee
                      Paul H Jan 8, 2008 07:57 PM

                      Slanted Door is a great place. The food is a unique Californian take on Vietnamese, prepared with the very finest ingredients. Additionally, they have a really great wine list of well priced wine expertly matched with the food. I've loved every visit I've made. It's only the difficulty of getting a reservation that has kept me from more visits.

                      1. re: Paul H
                        rworange Jan 9, 2008 12:27 AM

                        I'm with Paul H on this one. When it first moved to the Ferry Plaza location they were inconsistant for a while getting used to the new larger place. If you want Vietnamese, yeah, go to your local cheap joint. However, if you want Cal-Vietnamese with top quality ingrediants don't miss Slanted Door. There's a pretty great wine list too that you won't find at a mom and pop.

                        1. re: Paul H
                          Paul H Jan 9, 2008 12:08 PM

                          Here's my report from September with details for my positive opinion.

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/437660

                        2. re: kweesee
                          d
                          dinnerout Jan 8, 2008 08:15 PM

                          You mean Isa on Steiner? Great choice - one of my favorite restaurants - I am crazy about the chicken and the rissoto and the grapefruit granitee. Actually, I don't think I've ever been disappointed there, though a somewhat recent review said it had slipped. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

                        3. w
                          whiner Jan 8, 2008 10:08 PM

                          I love Slanted Door and would certainly tell you it is worthy. Try the shaking beef!

                          1. g
                            grubber4 Jan 9, 2008 07:05 AM

                            Look, the bottom line with the SD is that it was sort of a ground breaking restaurant nationally (bringing contemporary Vietnamese food to the masses) that expanded most people's Vietnamese food horizons behind what they can get at local pho or noodle joints. For that, it will be always well known. Is it a good dining experience? Well with the move to the Ferry Building the place does a huge volume of business (which many, myself included, believe impacts the food quality) and it is not necessarily a pleasant place to eat (the view is great, the noise unbearable.) At this point, I think there are at least two-- if not three--contemporary Vietnamese restaurants in the Bay Area that are comparable or even better, but that will not take away the role the Slanted Door plays nationally. It still maintains a great wine list and offers many local and organic products (that is not particularly important to me, but to others it's almost everything). Some dishes are sublime, others sloppy. If you have never been to a true contemporary Vietnamese restaurant then you should try get in. Viet food, despite the protestations on this board, is far more complex and broad than pho, bun, bahn mi etc.

                            27 Replies
                            1. re: grubber4
                              h
                              Hungry Celeste Jan 9, 2008 07:13 AM

                              Please list the two or three contemporary viet places you like better than Slanted Door....thanks.

                              1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                daveena Jan 9, 2008 07:29 AM

                                I'm not grubber4, but I'll list my two - Tamarine in Palo Alto, and La Vie in SF. La Vie isn't nearly as posh on the inside, but I think the food is at the same level. I haven't been to Bong Su (also in SF) - I've heard good things from friends, but I think reports on the board are mixed.

                                My feeling is this - I wasn't impressed with Slanted Door. However, it clearly has devoted fans, and at least half of the visitors who go there absolutely rave about it. So if you're coming from a city without a significant Vietnamese food scene, you should probably try it for yourself.
                                Here's a good thread on what to order:
                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/431761

                                1. re: daveena
                                  h
                                  Hungry Celeste Jan 9, 2008 07:32 AM

                                  I'm traveling soon to SF from NOLA, which has a HUGE viet population. Sadly, we don't really have any extremely high-end viet places, so I'm interested in the fine dining approach to the cuisine.

                                  1. re: daveena
                                    g
                                    grubber4 Jan 9, 2008 09:26 AM

                                    Those three (Tamarine, Bong Su and La Vie) are definitely in that category and I would add Ana Mandara.

                                    1. re: grubber4
                                      w
                                      whiner Jan 9, 2008 09:30 AM

                                      Personally, I prefer Slanted Door to those others...

                                      1. re: whiner
                                        k
                                        klum1971 Jan 9, 2008 09:43 AM

                                        I find most pricey Vietnamese places to be incongruent with the food's humble beginnings. Vietnamese food is not necessarily suppose to be pricey. I find the best meals in my local Viet establishment. I like Golden Flower in Chinatown for their pho and An Nam in San Jose for their bun bo hue.

                                        1. re: klum1971
                                          u
                                          uptown jimmy Jan 9, 2008 09:53 AM

                                          Exactly, Klum. There's something odd about trying to elevate what is essentially peasant fare to such fancy heights. It's street stall food, you know? It doesn't seem appropriate to gussy it up with a multi-million dollar location and a high-dollar wine list. It's inherently awkward.

                                          And the food at SD is simply not good enough to warrant the prices they charge. Perhaps the ingredients are incredibly fresh, I wouldn't know. But I've had better Vietnamese food, and the ambience was anything but impressive where I had it.

                                          1. re: uptown jimmy
                                            g
                                            grubber4 Jan 9, 2008 11:17 PM

                                            You two are completely out of touch. First of all, if Golden Flower is your idea of pho then you need a little lesson. Golden Flower, like most of San Fran's viet restaurants, is ethnic chinese. Therefore, you haven't even tasted true viet pho. Secondly, "peasant fare" and "humble beginnings" as descriptions clearly reflect an incredible dirth of knowledge about history, cultural. Vietnamese food is of course heavily influenced by French cooking techniques since they were colonists for over 100 years. Go to Saigon right now and you will find restaurants that rival or even surpass the SD in elegance and price. Better yet, don't go there, keep eating bad pho and "street" food and continue to believe you have really experienced viet food--just don't pretend you know what you are talking about.

                                            1. re: grubber4
                                              Xiao Yang Jan 10, 2008 07:33 AM

                                              I dare say an average Vietnamese would recognize the food at Golden Flower as more familiar than the food at TSD. Charles Phan has dressed up the food for California palates the way it was dressed up for the palate of French colonialists in Viet Nam. In a sense the TSD represents a form of cultural colonialism. How many Vietnamese do you see dining there, anyway?

                                            2. re: uptown jimmy
                                              k
                                              kweesee Jan 10, 2008 09:25 AM

                                              i wonder if people think the same about chinese food. they think that chinese food is pretty much what you can get in chinatown. because honestly of all asian food, id say chinese food in america has gone the furthest astray from what it actually is like in china, hong kong, & taiwan. and there are hundreds of gourmet chinese restaurants in china,hk,twn that serve delicacies that are not found around here, and can easily total up to $300-1000/person!

                                  2. re: grubber4
                                    Xiao Yang Jan 10, 2008 07:23 AM

                                    I don't think TSD is bringing anything to the masses, unless the "masses" ain't what they used to be. It's more a case of dumbing down a mass cuisine, usind designer ingredients, and adding a wine list, fancy cocktails, and desserts for people who wouldn't touch it otherwise.

                                    1. re: Xiao Yang
                                      rworange Jan 10, 2008 08:20 AM

                                      I don't know. After eating my way through Slanted Door's menu it gave me a future base to go out and try 'authentic' smaller mom and pop restaurants. Come to think of it, after Slanted Door, I was more open to trying other unfamiliar cusines ... Brazilian, Portuguese, etc ... that didn't need to be in a fancy setting ... a case of what other delicious food am I missing.

                                      It is just like eating 'Amercian' food can be at Chez Panise or Al's Big burger or FatApple's Why shouldn't Vietnamese or other ethnicities have the same option. Is Alice Waters dumbing down American cuisine?

                                      Why should a upscale setting and top-notch ingrediants and drink pairings equate to dumbing down a cuisine if it doesn't translate that same way to American Cuisine.? Isn't that stereo-typeing? Applying different standards?

                                      Either the food is delicious at Chez Panise or not.
                                      Either the food is delicious at Slanted Door or not

                                      Either Big Al's puts out a good burger or not.
                                      Either Saigon Sandwich makes a good bahn mi or not.

                                      It's not that I don't understand your statement, appliying it to my own dismay about Mexican cuisine. My gripe with upscale Mexican restaurants in the Bay Area is the food isn't all that tasty and compared to restaurants of that class in Mexico ... pathetic.

                                      Is the food at Slanted Door delicious or not? IMO it is. How it compares to restaurants of the same class in Vietnam I can't answer.

                                      However the arguments that better, tastier food can be had at cheaper Vietnamese mom and pops always seems like comparing apples and oranges to me.

                                      1. re: rworange
                                        Xiao Yang Jan 10, 2008 11:19 AM

                                        I don't think we are disagreeing on anything. I've been to TSD a few dimes (on the company's dime) and agree that the food is a reasonably tasty, if overpriced take-off on Vietnamese food. But to me it doesn't represent an authentic ethnic eating experience, OR a good value, unless your felicific calculus has as high a coefficient for "cachet" as it does for "parking".

                                        I can't speak to the capitals of Viet Nam, but a comparable example in Shanghai might be Whampoa Club versus a local stand-by like Lao Banzhai. Whampoa is full of well-heeled expats and visitors enjoying a pricy take on Shanghai cuisine but if you were to take a local there, the reaction would probably be "Why?"

                                        There's Dining and there's Eating, I guess, but we're talking rwapples and rworanges again.

                                        1. re: Xiao Yang
                                          u
                                          uptown jimmy Jan 10, 2008 12:46 PM

                                          That sums it up, Xiao, and in the case of SD, the answer to "why" is simply not "the food". It can't be, because there is better Vietnamese elsewhere, in larger portions, and for much less money.

                                          I mean, SD is a really beautiful place, but it ain't THAT beautiful. And the food is good, but it ain't THAT good.

                                          I do think that some of us have eaten so many wonderful Vietnamese meals in fairly unimpressive, even sketchy, places, and that it is simply jarring tom us to have the same dishes presented in such a fancy atmopshere as SD. It'd be like me, a Southern Boy raised on fried chicken and collard greens and sweet potato pie, being taken to a restaurant where they served that sort of food in a setting more fitting for foie gras and charged you $30.00 to $50.00 a head for it. It would just seem incongruous, and more than a little bit like a rip-off.

                                          1. re: uptown jimmy
                                            Paul H Jan 10, 2008 01:25 PM

                                            "... in the case of SD, the answer to "why" is simply not "the food". It can't be, because there is better Vietnamese elsewhere"

                                            This claim continually appears, but it is seldom accompanied by concrete alternatives. I haven't eaten my way through the Vietnamese places in the City, but so far, I see no evidence for claims like this. There might be more authentic Vietnamese food out there, and I have no doubt that there is cheaper Viet food, but there is none better. Based only on quality of ingredients, number of standout dishes, and consistency, Slanted Door is the best "Viet-Cal" restaurant in the city, and there is no "Viet" restaurant where you will have a better meal.

                                            1. re: Paul H
                                              u
                                              uptown jimmy Jan 10, 2008 03:37 PM

                                              Well, I admit to being no expert on Vietnamese food in the Bay Area. And I'm sure some derision will be heaped upon me for confessing that I was a Tu Lan junkie way back in the day. I loved the Cha Giao Bun there so much I never tried to hunt down a "better" option.

                                              But I can say uneqivocally that the Cha Giao at Tu Lan is hands-down better than that at Slanted Door: it's meatier, tastier, and just has a better texture. And I combined that with the fact that some of the more trustworthy posters here on this board have chimed in with several supposedly "superior" places for Vietnamese food. Perhaps I spoke too strongly, but I think my point is valid: ultimately, what's the point of paying high dollar for smallish portions of what is essentially Vietnamese soul food? Soul food just belongs in divey joints, I always thought.

                                              But the folks who started SD are brilliant. It was the perfect niche, really. Of all the mostly-unknown-to-most-Americans cuisines that were ripe for exploiting in a posh, expensive environment, Vietnamese was certainly top of the list.

                                              I will say, though, that the place is worth visiting once just for a snack and a drink. Remarkable space, IMO.

                                              1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                Xiao Yang Jan 10, 2008 08:49 PM

                                                In addition to good timing, TSD also benefited from a highly publicized visit by Bill Clinton (still a sitting President) and his daughter Chelsea to the original Valencia St. venue back in 2000.

                                                1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                  k
                                                  klyeoh Jan 11, 2008 03:27 PM

                                                  It's funny, Xiao Yang, I was at Slanted Door last July when one of my friends said "Bill Clinton ate here". I was in Ho Chi Minh City 6 months earlier & was dining at Pho2000 (near Ben Thanh Market) & a Vietnamese friend there said "Bill Clinton ate here". Same thing happened when I was at Bukhara, Maratha Sheraton in Mumbai - and Indian colleague said, "Bill Clinton ate here!".

                                                  One thing both Clinton & I have in common, besides being prolific eaters, we'd both underwent heart angioplasty operation. I guess there's a price to pay for being gluttons.

                                                2. re: uptown jimmy
                                                  g
                                                  grubber4 Jan 11, 2008 12:57 PM

                                                  These comments are too funny. Would the same comments be made about other cuisines? I mean is $18 for a small plate of pasta at A16 or SPQR "that much" better than Pasta Pomodoro's $12 version? Or is a crepe at Ti Couz that much better than Crepe House? As I stated earlier, if your whole knowledge of Vietnamese food is pho, bun or bahn mi than you won't even recognize what you are being served at the SD or any other higher end Vietnamese restaurant. I challenge any of you to find a brick oven roasted whole fish like the one served at SD at any of the Tenderloin restaurants or Tu Lan. They don't serve it.

                                                  As a frequent traveler to Vietnam, I can tell you that both Saigon (and Hanoi to a lesser extent) have similar restaurants with much broader menus than traditional cafe food. The food is adventurous, creative and more expensive than cafe or street food. And, guess what? They are filled with local middle class families. Furthermore, what many of you think is Vietnamese food here (based upon trips to Tu Lan and other cafes) doesn't even exist in Vietnam because no real cafe there would serve both good pho and a multitude of other dishes. Most cafes specialize in one or two dishes.

                                                  Finally, while I find SD to be good food, it is not SD that I am defending in particular. I am challenging the whole argument here (a pervasive one on this board) that contemporary Vietnamese food should be directly compared to its street and cafe food cousin, when in fact it should stand on its own.

                                                  1. re: grubber4
                                                    Xiao Yang Jan 11, 2008 07:25 PM

                                                    I don't think anybody is arguing that high-end Vietnamese restaurant food is the same as street food/cafe food. That wouldn't be the case anywhere in the world. The debate is whether TSD's offerings are representative of high-end fare that would be found in Ho Chi Minh City, or if it's been Californicated beyond recognition.

                                                    Let's have a chorus of "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, Alice Waters is going to win!"

                                                    1. re: grubber4
                                                      k
                                                      kweesee Jan 12, 2008 07:25 AM

                                                      I totally agree with you grubber, thats why I asked the same question about Chinese food earlier. It seems that people believe what they get at small pho shops here or chinese food in chinatown IS what it actually is like in China, Taiwan, HK. I personally feel that it is FAR from what chinese food is really like in ASia.

                                                    2. re: uptown jimmy
                                                      jbyoga Jan 12, 2008 09:15 PM

                                                      Tulan!!!!

                                                    3. re: Paul H
                                                      Xiao Yang Jan 10, 2008 08:34 PM

                                                      "there is no "Viet" restaurant where you will have a better meal."

                                                      For a Caucasian from Carolina, perhaps, but I'd like to hear a Vietnamese person (unrelated to Charles Phan, of course) make the same claim.

                                                      1. re: Xiao Yang
                                                        Lori SF Jan 11, 2008 01:13 PM

                                                        I have been told by my Vietnamese friends that most of the Vietnamese food here in the Bay Area is not really pure Vietnamese, its more Vietnamese/Chinese infused. Because there are so many 2nd generation Vietnamese that are both Vietnamese and Chinese. They both think SD is Vietnamese/Calif fusion and creative. but have a hard time paying those prices.

                                                        1. re: Lori SF
                                                          g
                                                          grubber4 Jan 11, 2008 02:08 PM

                                                          That is absolutely correct. San Jose is the exception. In San Francisco that is absolutely the case. Saigon has a very big Chinatown (Cholon) where Chinese style food is cooked and Chinese is spoken. Many if not most of San Francisco's Vietnamese restaurants are owned by former residents of Cholon (including Charles Phan at Slanted Door and Mr. Kwok at Bodega Bistro), and it definitely impacts their cooking. I have eaten pho with friends in San Jose who were shocked by the dark nature of the broth with heavy star anise. This is because most people locally haven't eaten true Pho.

                                                          1. re: grubber4
                                                            l
                                                            lamster Jan 11, 2008 03:25 PM

                                                            I 100% agree with grubber4. Much like you, I've been to Vietnam several times and I am the offspring of one of those familes that lived (and some still live) in Cholon. You're right, comparing food at SD to street and cafe food is apples and oranges.

                                                  2. re: Xiao Yang
                                                    rworange Jan 10, 2008 01:00 PM

                                                    Cheap shot, Gary :-) ... the name was an unfortunate, unintentional choice. Anyway, for me it was never about cachet with Slanted Door. My major eating there was at the previous location when I lived nearby. I like California Cuisine a lot and this was a Vietnamese expression of it and about as comparable as any restaurant in its class. I was going to spend the same about for dinner at Bizou (then open) as Slanted Door.

                                                    I liked Slanted Door so much that I chose it as a post-funeral dinner once because the food was comforting to me and it was a pleasant-under-the-circumstances meal. All concerned thought it was a good restaurant choice.

                                                    There still remains the problem of putting out great food on that scale but they are handling it better than at opening when I had major disappointments with all my former favorites.

                                            2. s
                                              singlemalt Jan 9, 2008 09:52 AM

                                              We just got back from SF and, like you, made inquires about the Slanted Door and got a myriad of responses. We, my daughter and wife and I, did go there one night for dinner and sat at the bar to eat because we did not have reservations. The place was interesting with an interesting menu but very crowded and very noisy. I think we were luck that we sat at the bar because it was quieter. I have never been to a restuarant, though, where they have a disc jockey playing a repititious, booming, heavy bass type of music. The food we had was good except for the whole fish which was lacking in flavor. The fish meat was mild, okay with that, but it seemed to lack any seasoning to make it a distinctive dish. OTW, we had the apppetizer ribs, coconut milk eggplant, quite good, and papaya salad, which was good but not that interesting. (Confession, on the papaya stuff we got a vegetable sauce since the menu item had a sauce with shrimp in the stock and I am allergic). The Negronii I ordered was served up and was quite tasty. I am used to Cinzano in my Negronis and they used a different type of vermouth. Warning: don't order a French 75 without checking the menu. Their French 75 is not a champagne based drink as it traditionally is. Service was quite good, even at the bar.

                                              I call this type of place a "destination" place. Don't really know why I use that term but it is a place the many out of towners (tourist) go and is a destination for them just like ,for example, Buena Vista, which was crowded beyond belief). Personally, I would use the time to go to another place, e.g. Vietnamese, Chinese, even Chez Panisse in Berkely, Canteen, especially Canteen for dinner. ( ate brunch there, made dinner reservations but were too packed after a late dinner at Chez Panisse) I would not reccomend Zuni, which I will be writing a review of.

                                              1. w
                                                walker Jan 9, 2008 09:52 AM

                                                If you choose to go to Slanted Door, besides the excellent fish, I love the shaking beef and for an appetizer, the Imperial Rolls -- best I've ever had.

                                                1. g
                                                  Giselle Jan 10, 2008 08:15 AM

                                                  SD is good but overpriced and crowded as was its two previous locations ( Brannan and Valencia). Tamarine in PA is also way overpriced. I still like Koh Samui on Brannan and its fresh spring rolls.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Giselle
                                                    g
                                                    grubber4 Jan 10, 2008 11:02 AM

                                                    Talk about comparing apples and oranges? Thai food at Koh Samui v. Viet food at the SD? Huh?

                                                  2. s
                                                    schemsy Jan 10, 2008 09:17 AM

                                                    yes, it's most definitely worth the money. make sure you order the shaking beef!

                                                    1. c
                                                      chavdar Jan 10, 2008 10:17 AM

                                                      Very good food, but not traditional Vietnamese if that is what you are after. Sitting at the bar is your only option unless you have a res. Try to get there before the rush and it is totally doable though. cellophane crab noddle dish and shaky beef are my two favorites.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: chavdar
                                                        c
                                                        cleopatra999 Jan 11, 2008 04:01 PM

                                                        we were in SF in December and I had heard of TSD. We were at the Ferry building right before 5pm on a Friday and people were lined up, both with & without reservations. We would have gotten a table had we waited in line but we snagged a couple of chairs at the bar, granted we were only 2 people. We are usual consumers of typical Vietnamese food (pho & noodle bowls). I did not go there expecting that, and we were not disappointed, interesting wine & food list. The food was definitely on the expensive side but the quality seemed really good, I loved that they had a brown rice option. The salad rolls were great, and the peanut sauce for dipping was some of the best I have ever had. Overall we really enjoyed our meal and were happy that we ended up going.

                                                      2. f
                                                        fdb Jan 11, 2008 09:16 PM

                                                        I don't know about dinner but I had lunch at SD during my visit last summer. Loved the food, the view and the service was great. Being lunch time with no DJ spinning, it wasn't overly noisy. Yes, you can get authentic Vietnamese or Chinese food in any other city in the US, but I feel SD (with the freshest ingredients and the priceless view)is uniquely San Franciscan. Well worth a visit.

                                                        1. k
                                                          kweesee Jan 12, 2008 07:27 AM

                                                          perhaps I will go on Saturday for lunch since there isnt loud music and see for myself what you're all talking about :O) thanks!!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: kweesee
                                                            c
                                                            cleopatra999 Jan 12, 2008 11:42 AM

                                                            make sure you report back :)

                                                          2. k
                                                            kweesee Jan 14, 2008 04:24 PM

                                                            fyi: I've booked slanted door for sunday lunch, universal cafe for sunday dinner, and Jardiniere for Monday dinner! I'm so excited!

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: kweesee
                                                              k
                                                              kweesee Jan 14, 2008 05:23 PM

                                                              we're also going to mama's in washington sq for brunch, as well as slow club for breakfast. and this place called hunan garden in stanford for peking duck

                                                              1. re: kweesee
                                                                Melanie Wong Jan 14, 2008 05:31 PM

                                                                "interesting" that you've chosen Hunan Garden over Peking Duck Restaurant in Palo Alto for a Peking duck meal, any particular reason?

                                                              2. re: kweesee
                                                                daveena Jan 14, 2008 05:30 PM

                                                                Curious - why Jardiniere? The food is solid but unimaginative, and fairly expensive.

                                                                1. re: daveena
                                                                  k
                                                                  KitchenSkank Jan 14, 2008 05:57 PM

                                                                  We ate at Jardiniere on our last visit (7 years ago).
                                                                  We ate in the wine vault with my wife's company on expense account.
                                                                  If you like to start with foie gras & champagne
                                                                  and finish with a cheese array & sauterne... it's the bomb.
                                                                  (Don't expect to want to be sexy after this meal).

                                                                  We were at the Ferry Plaza Market last Saturday
                                                                  and by chance snuck into the Slanted Door at @ 11:30.
                                                                  By 12:15, it was a zoo.
                                                                  Once something is this trendy... it's not the bomb.

                                                                  1. re: daveena
                                                                    k
                                                                    kweesee Jan 14, 2008 06:17 PM

                                                                    I told my friend I liked French and he wanted to go there. He's heard good things about it. I do have a list of restaurants, mostly French, from another SF friend. Can anyone comment on these? We dont want anything super uptight and boring; also I want something thats very SF or very Cali, not something I can get in Boston. Finally, I'm quite interested in Isa (as its french infused cali food)

                                                                    isa
                                                                    french laundry
                                                                    chez panisse
                                                                    gary danko
                                                                    fleur de lys
                                                                    la folie
                                                                    izakaya lounge
                                                                    anjou
                                                                    belden place
                                                                    chapeau

                                                                    1. re: kweesee
                                                                      Paul H Jan 14, 2008 06:42 PM

                                                                      Except for The French Laundry (which is in Yountville in the Napa valley, and essentially impossible to get a reservation at), the food at Jardiniere will be every bit as good as any of the other places on your list. Belden place is not a restaurant, it is a street with several sidewalk cafes.

                                                                      1. re: kweesee
                                                                        daveena Jan 14, 2008 07:51 PM

                                                                        Oh boy... we got up to 62 posts on just Slanted Door alone... well, before we get another 62 posts on each of the other restaurants you named, we should probably get some basic info from you.

                                                                        1) Are you on a budget? How much (including wine, tax, and tip) per meal?
                                                                        2) When are you coming? (If this trip is coming up soon, you can eliminate French Laundry and Gary Danko).
                                                                        3) Are you willing to travel to Berkeley? (If yes, you get a strong yay from me for lunch upstairs at Chez Panisse).

                                                                        I haven't been to Isa for over a year, but I've enjoyed my meals there. It's also a fun place with a young crowd. Execution is a little inconsistent - it's sometimes brilliant (perfectly crisp paper thin slices of potato wrapped around tender, beautifully cooked halibut) and sometimes mediocre (same dish, with undercooked potato slices and overcooked halibut).

                                                                        I'll defer to Paul H re: whether the food at Jardiniere is as good as the food at the other French places on the list, as I haven't been to Fleur de Lys, La Folie, Anjou, or Chapeau!. My question is whether or not one of the other French places may represent a better value - Chapeau! seems to get good reviews, and is far less expensive.

                                                                        1. re: daveena
                                                                          k
                                                                          kweesee Jan 15, 2008 04:57 AM

                                                                          1. we're not really on a budget but I'm not really in the mood for super formal places. Im visiting very good friends i havn't seen in ages so we're prob gonna be talking non stop.
                                                                          2. this weekend. i am leaning towards isa right now.....or chez panisse
                                                                          3. distance is not a problem.

                                                                          1. re: kweesee
                                                                            daveena Jan 15, 2008 06:43 AM

                                                                            OK.

                                                                            Drop Jardiniere.

                                                                            You probably won't be able to get a weekend Chez Panisse rez this late, but it's worth calling (specify the cafe upstairs - the menu is a la carte, it's less expensive, and overall reports have been more positive for the cafe than for the restaurant downstairs). They're closed Sunday, but you should be able to get a Monday reservation. Probably better to drive than BART for dinner, as it's a bit of a walk from the BART station.

                                                                            Look into Aziza (Cal-Moroccan) as another uniquely SF experience (and definitely not stuffy).

                                                                        2. re: kweesee
                                                                          k
                                                                          KitchenSkank Jan 14, 2008 08:02 PM

                                                                          Hi again,

                                                                          We spent a day in the wine country this trip
                                                                          and what we heard may amuse you:
                                                                          French Laundry is closed in January to make repairs,
                                                                          give the kitchen staff a vacation and
                                                                          (if you believe pouring room hype)
                                                                          have the wait staff brush up on ballet lessons
                                                                          to tighten up the choreography on synchronized plating.

                                                                          For something French and very SF, consider this:
                                                                          After 3 miles of walking the Presidio & Crissy Field
                                                                          we stopped at Buena Vista for a couple Irish Coffees.
                                                                          After that we walked up Polk to avoid the worst of the steepness.
                                                                          Some bit after Lombard we came across a two block section
                                                                          filled with a variety of little French Bistros.
                                                                          They all looked cute and worth investigating.

                                                                          If you attempt a Bistro Crawl with Cassoulet tasting
                                                                          let me know how it goes.

                                                                          1. re: kweesee
                                                                            d
                                                                            dinnerout Jan 14, 2008 08:28 PM

                                                                            I'm a huge fan of Isa - I've always had great meals there and I like the folks who own/run it. It is relatively casual and much less expensive than French Laundry, Gary Danko, Fleur de Lys or La Folie. I've seen disappointing posts about Fleur and La Folie lately so check those out for more info. These places - along with Chez Panisse - are all expensive and can be very hard to get into. Anjou is very French, but I much prefer Isa - Isa has a broader menu to my mind. Anjou is on an alley of Union Square - Isa is on Steiner near Chestnut and you can walk around the neighboorhood and perhaps have a drink or something after if you are so inclined. Belden Alley has a number of places, some of which are French. I've not been to Chapeau, but I very much like Clementine on Clement St. Chapeau will soon be taking it over from what I understand. So...I vote for Isa!

                                                                            1. re: kweesee
                                                                              d
                                                                              dinnerout Jan 14, 2008 08:40 PM

                                                                              How could I forget - just down the street (about 5 doors) from Isa is Bistro Aix, which I also like very much. Similar casual type neighborhood place. I think all of the spots on your list have websites, so check them out! I think you can also get a res for most of them on Open Table...if a reservation is to be had at all!

                                                                              1. re: kweesee
                                                                                f
                                                                                fdb Jan 14, 2008 11:11 PM

                                                                                Again, I think you can find good French restaurants in any other cities in the US, and I'm sure in Boston, but there is only one Chez Panisse in SF or the entire US.

                                                                          2. k
                                                                            kweesee Jan 24, 2008 06:11 PM

                                                                            So i posted a SF report but it was WAYYY too long for people to want to read i bet, so heres the SD section:

                                                                            Sunday lunch: Slanted Door. I got a 2pm reservation on opentable for 4 of us. I was excited to try this place because of the 71 replies I got on the split opinions towards SD. For those of you who didnt read that post, basically half the people were saying it's a great experience and high quality food, and the other half felt that it was way overpriced for vietnamese food. First of all, I think that too many people have the wrong perception of what certain cuisines should be like or cost. For example, the Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Thai, and Malay food here in the US are mostly pretty cheap and casual. A lot of people fail to acknowledge that what's available here does not fully represent what is available in those countries. Most importantly, people often these countries each have hundreds of restaurants that are high end and/or trendy with delicacies not available here.

                                                                            So, my opinion on SD is that it is not overpriced, overrated, Vietnamese food. It came to $35/person include tax/tip. Everything we ordered was fresh and tasted unique. It wasnt just soy sauce, sesame sauce, and ginger -- which what most people add when they want to make something 'asian,' We ordered:

                                                                            Prather Ranch beef carpaccio - beef and sesame crackers very fresh. great appetizer
                                                                            *Grilled lemongrass pork over rice noodles with imperial rolls - very authentic, light, fresh, and crispy
                                                                            *grilled 5-spice chicken - it was super juicy and you could taste the spices that were not overwhelming.
                                                                            *meyer ranch shaking beef - soft, great flavor, with unique taste
                                                                            *hodo soy beanery organic lemongrass tofu - this seemed like a dish i could order in asia because how authentic it tastes.
                                                                            *Pear crisp - soft pear and great cinnamon taste. better than the one at universal cafe.
                                                                            *Creme Brule - one of our friends ate the whole thing in a couple minutes.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: kweesee
                                                                              daveena Jan 24, 2008 06:20 PM

                                                                              Hey kweesee - thanks for posting (I actually read your entire trip report and enjoyed it).

                                                                              I think you're missing one group when you break down the responses in this thread, though - I'd say half consider SD to be a great experience with high quality food, a quarter feel it's overpriced for Vietnamese food, and a quarter feel that it is not as good as other upscale Vietnamese places in the Bay Area (or elsewhere).

                                                                              Anyway, I'm glad you tried it and liked it, and thank you for reporting back. I can sometimes predict whether or not someone will like a restaurant based on where they're from and what restaurants they like, but I haven't figured out a reliable pattern for Slanted Door yet.

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