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Anniversary Dinner in SF - reqs please

My partner and I will be celebrating our first anniversary in April and we'd like to go out for a nice dinner in San Francisco. Not quite Masa's/Gary Danko nice, but maybe something like Aqua. We're not picky eaters, so we'll consider any type of cuisine. We'll be wearing our wedding clothes (him in a suit, me in a simple white dress), so a dressier place would be great. Looking forward to your suggestions - thanks!

PS - I'm sure someone will suggest Chez Panisse - I would definitely like to go there, but I don't want to take BART in my wedding dress :)

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  1. I couldn't possibly more highly recommend Quince for that occasion. My wife and I spent our first anniversary there and it was lovely. The room is quiet, the service remarkable and the decor beautiful. None of which would matter much to us if the food wasn't just excellent. If you do choose to go there, stick to the first courses and especially the pastas (the entrees were very good, but we liked having more variety and so stuck with smaller dishes and more of them).

    quincerestaurant.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: ccbweb

      Quince does sound like the perfect choice. I'll post a review if we end up there. Thanks!

      1. re: ccbweb

        I went there for my first anniversary too! It was lovely.

      2. You know, I just looked at the websites for both Gary Danko and Aqua, trying to decide where to go for an upcoming birthday. Their prices are pretty comparable for the prix fixe, in fact it seems like you would get more courses at GD and have more to choose from than fish fish and fish. I can't compare the two otherwise, though, since I have only eaten at Aqua, once, several years ago, and never at GD. I would think, though, your first anniversary is pretty special, you should celebrate it somewhere that qualifies as Gary Danko-nice, if that is your highest qualification. ;)

        3 Replies
        1. re: Leadbelly

          I have to agree with Leadbelly; you can drop some coin at Aqua too and the menu at Gary Danko looks spectac. I've only been to Aqua once, mind you, and while our service was impeccable, I found the space loud and not suitably intimate for a 1st anniversary tete a tete. Have you considered Bar Crudo - reasonably priced, great food, and very cozy in my opinion. As for dress, it's pretty casual, but you could certainly "glam it up" and not be at all out of place.

          PS - Are you sure about not taking the BART to Berkeley? Could be very "The Graduate..." ;)

          1. re: urbnmns

            Only if Dustin Hoffman is in the last seat in the last car and the train is going the wrong way.

            1. re: wolfe

              True. And no one wants to recreate that look of restrained panic on a romantic anniversary night out...

        2. Check out Ame - the food is wonderful and the ambience is closer to what you are looking for than Aqua, I think. Aqua does have lovely flowers, but it is more of a business/expense account place in my experience.

          1. It's been a while, but I wanted to post a review of our evening at Quince. Quince was exactly what I was looking for and we had a really wonderful night. It's a beautiful restaurant, the food was fantastic, and the service was amazing!! When I called to make the reservation (exactly 30 days in advance for a Saturday night), they asked if we would be celebrating a special occasion - what a nice touch. Even better - they printed "Happy Anniversary" on one panel of the menu and gave us all 3 pages of the menu to keep at the end of the meal. Our waiter was great (actually married just 6 months earlier) and helped choose between dishes and recommend wine pairings. I would definitely recommend Quince for anyone looking for a special night out.

            2 Replies
            1. re: snacktime

              Thanks for the report back. Do you remember what you ordered?

              1. re: snacktime

                Hmmm ... the link didn't take in the previous post.

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                Quince Restaurant
                470 Pacific Av, San Francisco, CA 94133

              2. I've done anniversary dinners at all 3. As others have mentioned, I don't think Aqua is any cheaper than Danko. In fact, I did Masa's for my most recent anniversary, and found it to be more expensive than either of the other 2 (both of which I had dined at recently too).

                Personally, I'd go with Danko if only because (a) the decor is nicer and more intimate (b) the service is, in my experience, impeccable. I find Masa's a little stodgier and old fashioned (food's great though) and Aqua is less intimate than Danko (the seafood centric menu might also play into your decision).

                Michael Mina is another option (the trio schtick is always enjoyable), but you might take issue with the dining room which is big and just kind of an extension from the St Francis lobby. Ame is also excellent. Maybe not as fancy as Danko/Masa/Aqua, but definitely inventive foodwise.

                Anyway, you can't go wrong just picking one from your shortlist out of a hat and remembering that you'll have plenty of other anniversaries (and other opportunities to celebrate). Special occasions are always a great excuse to dine out and try someplace new.