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"4-Star" restaurant with only a few weeks notice?

This is an open plea for help from a short-sighted 'hound.

Somehow I managed to overlook planning a celebratory dinner for my SO who's taking the Bar exam at the end of the month. Typically I'm planning out these types of dinners well in advance but it just didn't happen for this one.

I was hoping to somehow get in at Danko but that doesn't look like its going to work so I'm hoping some of you could suggest a similar restaurant (we don't really visit many restaurants in the price range--the latest was Jardiniere for our engagement dinner). We live in the city but if there are places up or down the coast (wine country included) that would be a good fit, I'm open to those as well.

Thanks for your help.

Concerned Mofo

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  1. Studying for and taking the Bar exam is an ordeal -- I like the idea of going away, even if it's just overnight. You might want to try the Farmhouse Inn -- nothing but raves about the restaurant, the rooms look divine, and they often have discounts for mid-week or short-notice stays (although the restaurant isn't open every day, so pick your day with that in mind).

    1. Did you have a specific date in mind? Cyrus has a 7:30pm for 2 on Sunday, July 27.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cindy

        Looking at 8/1 or 8/2 if out of SF, we can do 8/3 if it's in SF (unfortunately I have to be at work Monday morning.)

        1. re: mofo313

          I would aim for Saturday night. Your SO will still be sleeping on Friday. Personally, my vote would be for COI. I find the food and decor to be very calming, which is good after the bar.

      2. Ruth--thanks for the tip (for some reason I can't reply to your post) but the Farmhouse Inn is booked. I should also mention that if we're heading out of the city, we'll probably need to find somewhere to stay nearby (had I thought of this awhile ago FI would've been perfect.)

        1. you might want to consider silks at the mandarin oriental hotel. try the tasting menu with the wine pairings. good food, good wine, good people, good times. spend the night at the hotel.

          quince is a wonderful alternative. apply the money you save against his college loans.

          either way, have a great time.

          1. In the opposite direction from Farmhouse Inn, you might consider Marinus at Bernardus in Carmel Valley. I haven't eaten at the restaurant in a while, though it still gets very good reports, (and I did eat at their lower end restaurant, Wickets, recently and thought it was excellent), but the rooms are absolutely lovely, and if your SO likes spas....When I ate at Marinus I thought it was also excellent, and the vegetable dishes were outstanding.

            If you choose Bernardus, check their website for last minute specials mid-week. Can reduce the price of the room in half....

            In the City, have you considered The Dining Room at the Ritz? It is usually possible to get in there with less notice than at Danko (and staying there would be lovely too, not to mention less stressful after the exam than driving up or down the coast). It has been a long time since I've eating at the Dining Room, but by most accounts food is better than the Danko too.

            Good luck!

            1. I would try Cavello Point in Sausalito - very cool spot.

              3 Replies
              1. re: napawinegirl

                napa, this looks like a great place--even better that I've never heard of it

                I'm wondering if we're better off eating at Murray Circle or heading to Sushi Ran which seems to be fairly close?

                  1. re: wolfe

                    Thanks Wolfe. After looking over some options in wine county, sticking close to home never looked so good.

              2. Have you tried opentable.com?

                Chez Panisse (Berkeley)
                La Folie
                Manresa (Los Gatos)
                Oliveto (Oakland)

                  1. how about the bar area at the slanted door? definitely wont get a table this late but the bar area is certainly worth it

                    california culinary academy does a good job and is very reasonable

                    i was quite surprised by the whole experience when i went

                    1. I always have good luck getting in at La Folie when a Danko night is in order but I haven't thought enough in advance to book there. Highly highly recommended. Same price point, service, and wonderful food and atmosphere. Always a great time and they typically have tables available fairly last minute.

                      Also, if you go late enough (9ish) you can pretty much always get a couple spots at the bar at Danko, which I find sometimes to be more fun than the tables, as the bartender banter is great. Heck, last time we went to the bar we ended up with a table!

                      Good luck with Coi, they are pretty booked.

                      1. The Dining Room at the RItz-Carlton in the City is wonderful--a lovely room, terrific food, and excellent service. Oh yes--an extensive wine list, too.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Michael Rodriguez

                          I'm going there in a few days and was going to recommend same, which, coincidentally, is 20 years since I took the Bar Exam, and the birthday.

                        2. La Folie
                          Fleur de Lys
                          The Dining Room at the Ritz

                          At least one of those should have an opening. After you have reservations at a few, come back and we can give the pros and cons of each.

                          1. I would second or third the La Folie suggestion. What a find! A lot more reasonably priced and more well-executed, in my humble opinion, than Acquerello. Try the pork belly appetizer, the corn soup with truffles and sweatbread, but everything we have had there was incredible.

                            I would also second the "Open Table.com" suggestion, as you are able to make reservations on line and also accumulate points which may lead to 20, 50, or $100 off a meal, depending on how often you book.


                              1. re: grantham

                                I like Perbacco, but I don't think it's in the same class as most of the other restaurants discussed above. I wouldn't go there for a celebration.