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3 dinners in S.F. - are my choices good ones?

meganinlosfeliz Sep 9, 2008 05:35 PM

I am coming up to S.F. in a couple weeks for 3 days and other than revisiting my favorite city, the reason is just to eat, eat, eat. I am an L.A. 'hound and try to get up there once a year, but it's been at least a year since my last trip and I am dying for my Blue Bottle fix, among other things. :-). Here are my dinner selections:

Friday - Bar Tartine ( I found a vacation rental in Noe Valley, so it will be easier to get to the Mission than it has been on prior visits. I have been wanting to try Bar Tartine forever, as well as Range, but I chose between the two).

Saturday - Boulevard (I have been wanting to go for about 10 years now and my husband has gone on my recommendation many times while there on business.)

Sunday - Delfina (I have been twice, 5 yrs apart, and loved it both times so cannot pass it up again, having tried A16 and Incanto last year on two prior visits instead)

What do you think of these choices? I have not really kept up on new openings, but read a lot about Bar Tartine and Range when planning a visit last year, so wanted to check out at least one this time. Is Bar Tartine still great?

Any reason not to try Boulevard (at last)? And is Delfina as good as I remember it, i.e., no downhill alert?

I'll do a separate post with other eating questions.

Thanks so much.

http://meganinlosfeliz.blogspot.com/

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  1. JasmineG Sep 9, 2008 05:49 PM

    Sounds great! Some people on this board love Boulevard, and some hate it, so you may get a variety of opinions there. I adore Bar Tartine, and like Delfina, I'd probably pick A16 or La Ciccia above it for Italian, but I have still had good meals there. I hope you have a great trip!

    1. Carrie 218 Sep 9, 2008 09:26 PM

      If you've been waiting ten years to go to Boulevard, than by all means go. Get it out of your system.

      I am one that won't ever bother with the place again, having eaten there half-a-dozen times in the past 18 months and was ALWAYS disappointed. But, as Jasmine said, there are those that love it; I just can't figure out why...

      5 Replies
      1. re: Carrie 218
        meganinlosfeliz Sep 10, 2008 08:10 PM

        Just out of curiosity (and of course for future trips), what restaurants do you prefer that are in the same price range as Boulevard? I am still trying to learn as much as I can so that when I visit, I am assured great meals! We have some great restaurants in L.A., but I still prefer those in your city.

        1. re: meganinlosfeliz
          Carrie 218 Sep 10, 2008 09:03 PM

          For me, my top five are:

          Ame
          Coi
          Aziza
          Canteen
          Bix

          1. re: Carrie 218
            w
            whiner Sep 10, 2008 10:32 PM

            Funny... you and I agree on Ame and Aziza being wonderful restaurants, so we can't have THAT dissimilar palates... but I think Boulevard is better than Ame and MUCH better than Aziza.

            Still have to hit Coi...

            1. re: whiner
              Carrie 218 Sep 11, 2008 06:29 AM

              Whiner, I guess I'm just tired of the "large-hunk-o-protein" with "some-some-o-wilted-vegetable" combination which is so prevalent at Boulevard. I know that is what is 99% of John-Q-Public wants when they go to a restaurant, but with Boulevard, it seems too many are touting that combination in a crowded setting and mediocre service as exemplary. It just bores the heck out of me and on my last few visits, the flavor combinations of said hunks-o-meat/veggies (which I *can* occasionally appreciate) just bordered on mediocrity.

              1. re: Carrie 218
                w
                whiner Sep 11, 2008 07:08 AM

                I wasn't doubting your review... Personally, I have had *excellent* service there both times I went. I have found the flavors subtle, exciting, unique, and with the last bite a good -- or better -- than the first. The atmosphere I love.

                My comment wasn't to disparage yours. Rather, I was saying how strange it is for us both to love certain restaurants -- Ame and Aziza, for example, -- yet have such disperate views on another.

      2. Husky Sep 9, 2008 10:12 PM

        Great choices, however, I prefer Range to Bar Tartine. Delfina is still outstanding and even though some complain that it is not "Italian enough", I disagree -- it is VERY Italian to take local, fresh ingredients and use them in an unobtrusive manner. You can't have a proper insalata Caprese in March.

        1. l
          luckygrlllll Sep 9, 2008 11:02 PM

          I would do a16 over delfina any day. While both places are equally hyped, A16 consistently serves excellent food in a great atmosphere in a much nicer neighborhood.

          The 2X I have been to Delfina, just about every dish I ordered was terrible.

          1. w
            whiner Sep 10, 2008 04:18 AM

            I LOVE Boulevard -- my favorite semi-casual restaurant in SF -- and I really really really like Delfina. Awesome choices, both. For your appetier, consider the hazelnut ravioli at Boulevard... one of the two or three best appetizers I've had in SF.

            I've not been to Bar Tartine.

            One comment... as opposed to Delfina or Bar Tartine, since you are staying in the Noe Valley... there is La Ciacca. I haven't been, but all my friends who have absolutely swear by it. Sardinian, supposedly really casual and laid back and old world-y.

            1 Reply
            1. re: whiner
              Ruth Lafler Sep 11, 2008 12:05 PM

              I wouldn't consider Boulevard "semi-casual" -- by SF standards it's pretty dressy (lots of people dressed in "businesswear"). I also wouldn't consider it in the same price category as Aziza. Dish-for-dish (not comparing dinner there with dinner at a place with a multi-course tasting menu) it's one of the most expensive restaurants in the City. Of course, if someone specifies that Boulevard is in their price range, then almost anywhere else would also fit into their price range.

            2. Robert Lauriston Sep 10, 2008 08:25 AM

              Bar Tartine's definitely worth a try. Best bread in the world, though you can buy that at the bakery. It's not on my short list of places I'm eager to go back to, which is nothing against it, there's just so much competition in SF.

              You could go to Bar Tartine for brunch, freeing up a dinner slot for Range.

              La Ciccia is great.

              1. meganinlosfeliz Sep 10, 2008 08:06 PM

                Hmm, maybe brunch at Bar Tartine and dinner at Range is a better idea. I'll mull that over. I also am not familiar with La Ciccia, but will look into it. I preferred Delfina to A16 last year, but it was the cauliflower pasta at Delfina that sealed the deal for me - which I realize is not often on the menu. I think we caught A16 on an off night - it was good, but not nearly as good as I had heard it was (our pizza was a real disappointment - it was soggy) - here's my review
                http://meganinlosfeliz.blogspot.com/s...
                Sounds like it is worth another visit.

                Thanks so much for the feedback. I actually am in San Francisco right now - took an impromptu work trip up here today - and am pondering places for a late dinner tonight and tomorrow, so any suggestions I can't get to next week, I might try to hit this week.

                6 Replies
                1. re: meganinlosfeliz
                  mariacarmen Sep 10, 2008 10:04 PM

                  Perbacco, if you can get to Financial District easily.
                  Canteen - my new fave. Dennis Leary, formerly of Rubicon. totally different scene, tho, much more casual atmosphere, but the food is still top quality.

                  1. re: meganinlosfeliz
                    w
                    whiner Sep 10, 2008 10:30 PM

                    Late dinner downtown to me has always been Scala's. Though the chef there whom I loved I think is now at Perbacco, which is even better than Scala's now, but isn't open as late.

                    1. re: meganinlosfeliz
                      Robert Lauriston Sep 11, 2008 08:17 AM

                      Boulevard's open till 10 and good for solo dining at the bar.

                      Same goes for Perbacco. To me it's a step down from Incanto, La Ciccia, and A16, but still very good. Their main weakness seems to be inconsistency when it's crowded but later in the evening that shouldn't be a problem.

                      How late is late? Good dinner options on Thursdays after 10:

                      Bar Crudo, 10:30pm
                      Fish & Farm, 11pm
                      Farmer Brown, midnight
                      Scala's Bistro, midnight
                      Thai House Express, midnight
                      Zuni, midnight
                      Globe, 1am
                      Nopa, 1am
                      Oola, 1am

                      1. re: meganinlosfeliz
                        Husky Sep 11, 2008 09:32 AM

                        I find that A16 has slipped recently. A few weeks ago we were served prosciutto di San Daniele that was rancid - they took it back and substituted the "prosciutto Americano" which was much better. How does rancid prosciutto leave a kitchen? We could smell the rancidity when it arrived at the table. In any case, A16 is a better lunch spot than dinner spot - better atmosphere, less clubby.

                        1. re: Husky
                          w
                          whiner Sep 11, 2008 09:36 AM

                          Whoa! That sounds very un A16-like. I've been several times, though admittedly, not since March. I hope that was just an odd experience...

                        2. re: meganinlosfeliz
                          meganinlosfeliz Sep 11, 2008 11:39 AM

                          I could not get into A16 last night - it was too late and it would have taken too long to get there - but slipped in under the wire at COCO500 and I liked most of the dishes we had quite a bit (fried green beans, salmon caviar special, squash blossom flatbread and grilled squid). Tonight, per your suggestions, because A16 was booked until 10 and La Ciccia is far (we are in SOMA), we are going to try Perbacco out.

                          Next week I am still pondering what to do, but now have it narrowed down to Delfina or La Ciccia one night, Bar Tartine or Range another (reservations at the latter are a challenge), and Boulevard the other. I have been wanting to try Canteen for a while, so am adding that to my list for the future, along with Ame and Aziza. Coi intrigues me too--I have heard raves from several people over the last year. Thanks everyone!

                        3. Atomica Sep 13, 2008 02:39 PM

                          I would consider two Mission places not on your list: Maverick and Farina. I think the food at Maverick is much better than Range (though, and let me phrase this properly, Maverick doesn't serve cocktails and Range does, but I still think the menu at Maverick is more interesting and executed better). We had a stellar lunch yesterday at Farina, where I watched the chef roll out our pasta and form our ravioli and handkerchief pasta right on the spot. And desserts there are fantastic.

                          ETA: Perhaps this post is too late, I just realized. But you can think about next time.

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