Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 19, 2008 03:06 PM

Spruce or Gary Danko

going to be stopping over in San francisco for 2 nights at the Clift on our way back from a 3 week honeymoon in Fiji.
I am in the fine dining side of the industry in Toronto so are looking for exceptional food, service, and wines as this will be the grand finale of our trip. My wife-to-be does not eat red meat however is fine with fish and poultry.
I cannot decide on the two restaurants listed above - please help
tasting menus with wine pairings are welcome if available

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Is there a particular reason you chose those two among all the fine dining possibilities in the City? I don't think either of those would be most people's top choice for the kind of experience you're looking for.

    1. Last go-around at Danko was less than spectacular....I'd go elsewhere.

      1. For "tasting menus with wine pairings" I'd pick Gary Danko over Spruce. I think Spruce is more casual. If you really are looking for the best tasting menu with wine pairing your choices are Manresa (Los Gatos), Coi (San Francisco), Michael Mina (San Francisco), Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton (San Francisco), and Cyrus (Healdsburg).

        Manresa Restaurant
        320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

        373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

        Cyrus Restaurant
        29 North St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

        The Terrace at the Ritz-Carlton
        600 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108

        Michael Mina Restaurant
        252 California St, San Francisco, CA

        3 Replies
        1. re: Paul H

          my experience w/ manresa and michael mina , both last march, was that they were neither extraordinary in food or worth the very high expense.

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            Have you eaten at Coi, Cyrus or Dining Room at the Ritz? Perhaps you wouldn't like them, either.

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              Hmm, if you weren't impressed with the food at Manresa (I'm assuming you had the tasting), then I doubt you're going to be impressed with anything The Dining Room or Gary Danko is going to offer.

              That said, Gary Danko does a safe and conventional tasting menu at a relatively decent price and it does have a very good wine list.

          2. Spruce seems to be underserved on this board but I can say my two meals there were fantastic. It is just the right combo of quiet vs ambiance meaning there is a good vibe there but you can still enjoy a nice conversation. Danko is also wonderful but I don't like the area as much. I am local so the wharf area is a bit much for me but you might like it for an after dinner stroll. There is not much happening in the neighborhood that Spruce is located in but the bar there is well stocked with some excellent drinks if that is what you are into.

            Your decison will probably be based on where you can get in so call now. Either way I don't think you can go wrong.

            Avoid Mina like the plague; I hated my dinner there. My reasoning is that I want to walk out of a restaurant feeling better than when I walked in and Mina failed on that count; it just feels wrong in there somehow and the food did not live up to the hype for me. Can't really put my finger on why but I think it seemed to be too much work to eat there with all the different combos.

            Hope this helps

            1 Reply
            1. re: sfgal2

              Danko isn't really at the heart of Fisherman's Wharf. A walk down North Point and then up Columbus to North Beach would avoid the clutter. Or, they can just jump on the Cable Car right outside GD and head back to the Union Square area where they will be staying. Danko is known for service, I believe, as well as reasonable markups on the wines, as opposed to Manresa, for example, which has generated horror stories about outrageous markups.

            2. Gary Danko is a wonderful restaurant offering a exceptional food and service. Food is not adventurous or cutting edge, so if you're looking for a new experience thats not it. The wine list is great, although my experience and reports on the pairings have been sub-par. Although expensive, I think it offers very good value. You can spend just as much in town for much less.

              Spruce also very good, but not the same level of fine dining experience. I found the portions a little small, but the service suprisingly fine- wine by the glass poured at the table, for example. I do not believe they offer a tasting menu. The back room is quite nice, the front can get quite loud with its large bar.

              I am one of Michael Mina's fans. The wine list is amazing. The room is large but I find it grand, and I love the food. They have a tasting menu and the standard menu also provide a unique experience. Each course is presented a trio- either 3 separate sauces or 3 preparations of the same item. I like that it provides some of the experience of a tasting menu with out so many separate courses. Very expensive. Short 2-3 block walk from the Clift.

              You didn't mention when you will be in town. That impacts a decision to try the Dining Room. There has been persistant talk of the chef decamping.

              Manresa is quite far from the city.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chris Rising

                I researched the board and came up with these 2 restaurants however I am not stuck on them - please do not hesitate to recomend other places that will fit the criteria at the top of the thread- this dinner will be on May 14th so i would like to book soon. It just shouldn't be more than a twenty minute to half hour taxi ride from the Clift.
                thanks for your help

                1. re: mangiare10

                  Masa's. In my mind, Masa's is the best and most consistent special occasion restaurant in the City. There's a reason it's been at the top of the list for so long...and that's because it delivers an outstanding dining experience. And you can walk there from the Clift.

                  Masa's Restaurant
                  648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108