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Feb 27, 2008 04:20 PM

Birthday Recs In San Francisco, Part Deux

Ok, gang, here I am... again, she with the picky partner.

When last we all spoke, I think the consensus was that Bix would be a good spot for a nice, upscale birthday dinner without completely breaking the bank. All was right in the world.

Now, however, my partner has sworn off all meat (will still eat fish, though) in the light of reading the book Skinny Bitch and doing some research into the meat industry. It's been about six weeks and it seems to be sticking (I had really thought she'd last a week or so and give up on it). And as it was the gourmet burger she was most interested in at Bix, the plan to go there is now out the window. So now I'm back to the drawing board and come, yet again, begging for guidance.

I need a good seafood place (not hard in SF, is it?) or somewhere that will have a good variety of vegetarian options as well as be omnivore friendly. I was originally looking at Waterbar as a possibility, but haven't seen much in the way of reviews for it.

We're staying in Japantown at the Hotel Kabuki (formerly the Miyako), with no car, so our destination will have to be within a fair cab ride. Looking for somewhere that's romantic, with killer desserts. Hoping to spend $75-100pp before tip for three courses and a drink or two apiece. Help?

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  1. Will you remind us of the other preferences she had? (A link to the other thread would work, I think.) Thanks!

    3 Replies
    1. re: ccbweb - that's the original post. Obviously not going for a steakhouse type option now. I think the two big caveats are not Italian (she's not a fan) and not Mexican (I'm not a fan). With seafood and the indication of us being in Japantown, sushi would seem a given, but we'll be eating much of it already, so something different would be nice for the big night out.


      1. re: DarkRose

        Very close to your hotel is Quince. The best food I've had in San Francisco. They do an exquisite job with pasta, but it's not Italian. More Cal-French, I think. They only do wine, no cocktails.

        I'll keep thinking, but Quince is definitely a place to check out.

        1. re: ccbweb

          Recent Quince posting. Sounds Italian to me but does have some nice fish dishes on the online menu.

    2. What about Bar Crudo? Lots of great seafood, and fun environment for a birthday.

      1. I would suggest Farallon. It is mostly seafood but also has meat dishes. The food is excellent and the decor is a must see. Great desserts.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sanbut

          We ate at Farallon a few years ago and were completely unimpressed. I'm shocked that it repeatedly makes the Chronicle's Top 100.

          1. re: uptown jimmy

            Agreed, I was completely disappointed by Farallon!!!!!

            1. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions. Floated Quince, Bar Crudo, Farallon, Aziza, Ame, Millennium and Masa by her, and the only one she didn't turn her nose up at was Millennium (which I ended up nixing myself because there's really nothing on the menu that appealed to me, and while I understand it's her b'day dinner... I'd like to be able to enjoy it as well).

              Then... I'll admit it, I got desperate. I suggested Alioto's. I know... I know. It's on the Wharf. Again... desperate. And for naught, as she turned her nose up at that as well, because they don't have much of a selection and she doesn't like any of the fish they DO have on the menu.

              I got more desperate, and suggested Scoma. And lo and behold, she FINALLY said she liked the menu. So.... yes. We're dining at the Wharf. But at least it's one of the... acceptable places. I'm almost afraid to try to suggest something else at this point. One can only take so much rejection, after all.

              9 Replies
              1. re: DarkRose

                don't feel bad....Millennium doesn't exactly get raves on this board most of the time recommendation at Scoma would be to stick to local fish and simple preparations or perhaps, if you are coming soon while it is still in season, crab. Their menu shows a whole cracked crab for $27, which isn't too awful of a price, actually....They've also got a whole roasted crab for $32 which might be even better, as I think roasted preps of Dungeness bring out its flavor best (never tried it there, but it sounds like a simple prep, and therefore may be acceptable as you say, if it is fresh). The other dish I would try on their current online menu is sanddabs...also local, not always easily available elsewhere.

                Have fun on your trip!


                1. re: susancinsf

                  Our trip isn't until May (the pickiness is why I started looking for restaurants so far in advance) , unfortunately, so I do believe the season will be over by then. Everything on the menu looks so tasty, it's going to be hard to decide which way to go, though I'm leaning towards the Cioppino, or maybe, as you suggested, the sanddabs, as I've never tried either.

                  I'm sure this trip will be as amazing as the last, which saw us both ready to pack our bags and move out there. I think within five years or so, it's likely that we will do so.

                  1. re: DarkRose

                    oh too bad...well, you could always use the few months to try and convince her to change her mind about Aziza :-)

                    I've never had cioppino at Scoma, but to me cioppino is really about the crab, so problematic in May.....(but then again, it is something I make really well at home, so am not likely to order it when I go out).

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      Ah, that's a good point, of course, re: the crab being the most important part of cioppino. Sanddabs it shall be, then!

                      And trying to convince her of anything else is going to be a waste of breath, believe me. When I realized that Scoma doesn't take reservations, I floated the idea of going to Scoma in Sausalito instead, as they do. She flat out refused to look at another menu and said she doesn't care if she has to wait a few hours, she's not looking for another place, period.

                      You know... I can respect her decision to go mostly veggie (guess you'd call her a pescaterian), but she was already such a picky eater that eliminating beef and chicken from her diet severely limits the options.

                      On a plus note, I think we're also going to try to get a reservation at Kiss Seafood.

                      1. re: DarkRose

                        Last time I ate at Scoma, the food was much better than I anticipated, especially considering the location.
                        Just a warning- I found the portions to be massive, especially the crab louis salad. If I return, I'll be sticking to 1 main or 2 appetizers.

                        Also, if any of you are visiting when crab is in season, Scoma's version of cioppino is quite good, but be prepared the server might try to convince you to order the lazy man's cioppino (with the crab taken out of the shell), without mentioning the increased cost.

                2. re: DarkRose

                  There is also Pescheria in Noe Valley which has some meat, but mostly fish and is really sound! Might want to try and pass that one off on her...

                  1. re: DarkRose

                    I like Scoma's. They have their own fishing fleet and it is some of the freshest fish in the city and they know how to cook it.

                    I have had the cioppino and it is very good. Here's my report

                    I still remember how sweet and wonderful the scallops in the cioppino were. This is a VERY filling dish. Eat lightly that day. I slightly prefer Tadich's cioppino to Scoma's, but it is a close second.

                    As mentioned, the portions are huge. Be sure to ask which fish is local and fresh. If you get the louie's ask for the dressing on the side. I haven't tried them yet, but they looked a little overdresshed.

                    Here's some other previous reports

                    Don't expect a lot from things like veggies and you will be fine at Scomas ... it is about the fish. Maybe if you can, at dinner suggest dessert at Alioto's. I love the creme brulle there. I actually have been back there three times for that alone.The make good espresso too.

                    Hope you report back on how it goes.

                    1. re: rworange

                      The Crab Louis at Scoma's is probably the best Crab Louis I have ever ordered, with the dressing on the side, as you mentioned.

                      Scoma's crab cakes are good, too. The best I can remember eating on the West Coast.

                      1. re: phoenikia

                        Thanks for the tip about the crab cakes.

                        Scoma's Fisherman's Wharf
                        47 Pier 45, San Francisco, CA 94133