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NYC 'hounder needs SF dinner rec, not Slanted Door

Tengo Hambre Aug 5, 2008 09:48 AM

My husband and i are going to SF (from manhattan) for a wedding. Sadly we only have time for one dinner in the city and would love to enjoy something memorable that we can't find in nyc. Last time we visited SF we went to Slanted Door and Ame and loved both, but being that we're both adventurous about our food we wanted to try something new. So far i have my eye on Range, Delfina, and Canteen...but would love to hear of other/better/different options suggested by local chowhounders. Neighborhood is not an issue as long as it's in the city.


  1. Paul H Aug 5, 2008 09:59 AM

    Are you tasting-menu-adventurous?

    Go for the eleven-course dinner at Coi where you will find California cuisine elevated by finesse and a touch of intellectual playfulness.


    It's a lot closer to Ame than to Slanted Door, but entirely different from either.

    373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

    1. w
      whiner Aug 5, 2008 10:00 AM

      Those are all great choices.

      I love both Slanted Door and Ame, I think you did well on your last trip...

      That you cannot find in NYC is tough as you can find so much there... I do think the restaurants you mentionedc are all 'safer' restaurants, the likes of which you might be able to find in NYC. I would do a more regional Italian maybe? A16 for Southern or La Ciccia for Sardinian. There is Aziza for Moroccan. Laiola is a true favorite of mine -- awesome modern Spanish. Trendy, especially on the weekends, which coul dbe a plus or minus depending upon what you are looking for. I LOVE Boulevard, though I'm not certain how different it is from the type of food you might find at Blue Hill...

      1. Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2008 10:15 AM

        Nothing against Range or Delfina, but personally I'd take New Yorkers to Incanto and Zuni Cafe first.

        Canteen is great but not as suitable for a blowout dinner as the above.

        La Ciccia is great Sardinian, which I don't think you have in NY, but not as much of a blowout-type place.

        Aziza is definitely unique.

        I think you have places somewhat similar to A16.

        At Coi, Daniel Patterson's doing a lot with essential oils, which is in some ways similar to what Wylie Dufresne's doing at WD-50.

        You might look at some of the recent recommendations to other New Yorkers:


        11 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          Paul H Aug 5, 2008 11:03 AM

          Besides the signature pink grapefruit with ginger, tarragon, and black pepper mousse dish, I don't know of anything Patterson is currently doing with essential oils.

          And to equate the food at Coi with what Wylie Dufrense is doing at WD-50 is wildly misleading. Read Bruni's review in the Times again (linked above) and tell me if you think that sounds at all like WD-50. The reason I suggested Coi is that the OP asked for 'something memorable that [they couldn't] find in nyc.' Coi's take on California cuisine makes it both a San Francisco experience and a unique one.

          1. re: Paul H
            Paul H Aug 6, 2008 06:54 AM

            "[Patterson] uses mostly vegetables -- he even grows some of his own -- and his food has such a strong sense of place that it would be impossible to transfer it anywhere else. You couldn't find Coi in any other city." Michael Bauer when bestowing a fourth star on Coi.


            1. re: Paul H
              Robert Lauriston Aug 6, 2008 07:23 AM

              Whatever. The "gelatinous tomato water," "fluid gel," "leek ash" oil, and too many courses sure sound like WD-50 to me.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                Paul H Aug 6, 2008 07:37 AM

                That's "leek ash vinaigrette" not oil, and it is the sauce for: butter-steamed wild black cod, chantenay carrots, pea shoots, and sorrel. This is about as far away from a deconstructed eggs benedict (c.f. WD-50) as it is possible to get. Where did you see "gelatinous tomato water"? This usually refers to the seeds and gelatin removed from the flesh of the tomato. If you _carefully_ remove the seeds and juice from a tomato, this is what you get. It's fresh as can be and completely unmanipulated.

                1. re: Paul H
                  Robert Lauriston Aug 6, 2008 08:08 AM

                  From Bauer's review (your link is to his blog):

                  "Patterson ... roasts the [leek] in a convection oven until it's dry and then whirs it into a powder. He blends that with oil and lets everything steep for a couple days at room temperature ..." That is exactly how they make their "toast oil" at WD-50.

                  "... cherry tomatoes suspended in a gelatinous tomato water ..."


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    rworange Aug 6, 2008 11:01 AM

                    Have you been to both these restaurants, Robert? I remember reading a number of Paul's reports.

                    1. re: rworange
                      Robert Lauriston Aug 6, 2008 12:15 PM

                      I last had Patterson's food at Elisabeth Daniel, at that time it was right on the edge of being too fussy and complicated for me. One meal at WD-50 satisfied my Iron Chef-inspired curiosity about molecular gastronomy:


                      Maybe it is an only-in-SF experience. I'll defer to those who've paid the big bucks to find out.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        sugartoof Aug 7, 2008 03:50 AM

                        Patterson's concept for Coi was to get away from what he did at his previous ventures, which had problems. Actually, every kitchen he's run in recent years has had problems. Coi was meant to be a less fussy, less foam kind of joint, which is kind of laughable because he's obviously one of the more pretentious chefs around...but it does sound like he's trying to restrain himself with the perfume schtick. If you like deconstructed food and sucking flavors off a spoon, then it's a fine choice. For the most part, all that has gone out of style in NY.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston
                  daveena Aug 6, 2008 08:37 AM

                  I haven't eaten at Coi, but I've read the reports with great interest (I loved Alinea, and was meh on WD-50, with the exception of desserts).

                  As far as I can tell, the only similarity is Patterson's occasional use of "molecular" techniques. Otherwise, the approaches are very different.

                  WD-50: emphasis on meat, every component on the plate heavily manipulated, flavor profiles tend towards "Classic American" (pastrami sandwich, cheeseburger, eggs benedict).

                  Coi: emphasis on veg and fish, molecular techniques predominantly used on accompaniments, flavor profiles tend toward Chez Panisse + some Asian influence

            2. re: Robert Lauriston
              nelson_lamp Aug 7, 2008 01:04 PM

              I just took a New Yorker to Incanto, and she loved it. A bit Babbo-esque in that Chris Cosentino really knows his way around offal and house-made pasta, but I think Incanto's food is more innovative, and the all-Italian wine list is phenomenal.

              1. re: nelson_lamp
                Robert Lauriston Aug 7, 2008 01:18 PM

                The Babbo regulars who took us there were impressed, maybe most by the relatively affordable wine prices.

            3. Chris Rising Aug 5, 2008 04:42 PM

              I think Delfina is uniquely Californian, memorable and suitable for dinner when you only have one night in the city. I lived in NYC for quite a long time and can't think of a comparison. Maybe if you put Babbo on 2nd and Avenue B and he was in the kitchen on a daily basis. (Delfina is not in a bad neighorhood, it has a semi-gentrified East Villiage feel)

              Canteen is also memorable, and offers a limited menu of the chefs choice. The food is usually very, very good but in no means spectacular. It is not a blowout.

              I really enjoy Range, but it feels like a great NYC neighborhood restaurant.

              1. n
                norcalfoodie Aug 6, 2008 11:20 AM

                You should go to Coi. Nothing like wd50 (I have been to both).

                1. g
                  grantham Aug 10, 2008 10:49 PM

                  Although I loved Judy Rogers' book, the one time I dined at Zuni Cafe for lunch, I was milldly disappointed. We had the much hyped Caesar salad and chicken. We recall the salad was dry and the chicken was nothing special. Would hate to steer chowhounds from NYC to Zuni Cafe for their only meal.

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