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Oct 16, 2008 09:35 PM

Need Recc for Fun/Delish Daddy-Daughter Dinner in SF

Hi SF Chowhounds,
I'm a student in Palo Alto and my dad is a foodie/wine merchant from Canada. Every time he visits we like to visit a few new spots in SF, and this time I'm a bit stumped as for what to try. A little about us:

SF faves: Zuni, A16, Range
Mentionable: Salt House, Perbacco
Won't go back: Slanted Door (I think Tamarine in PA does better anyways), Greens

Other criteria to keep in mind: Me & my boyfriend are students, my dad and his friend 50-somethings who are not turned off by a boisterous, fun room. We all really like the atmosphere at A16, for example, so nothing too stuffy. More important than atmosphere is focus on fresh, local ingredients and excellent wine.

Any of you out there with similar tastes have a specific recc? We are doing Fri/Sat/Sun, and right now my only leaning is to Bar Tartine for Friday. Sunday we might just do Zuni again because we have never been disappointed. For Saturday was thinking Orson (recent threads indicate this might be risky) or Town Hall (too stuffy?), but I'm not getting a good feeling from what I've heard that either of those are just right. I guess by the time we've combed the best of SF we should expect a few misses though.

He'll be out the weekend of Nov 21-23. Thanks in advance for anything you've got!

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    1. how about Laiola?

      1300 Fillmore for something different?

      5 Replies
      1. re: chutney

        Laiola might be just right. I'll run it by my dad. What about Aziza (vs. Laiola)?

        Edit to add: Does Laiola have a wine list by the bottle, other than the sparse selection listed on their website? That might be a dealbreaker...

        1. re: ajaw

          good question - i've only been to laiola once and really enjoyed it......but not sure about the wine selection - you might want to give them a call!

          i'm heading to Aziza next week (first time and looking forward to!)

          or how about Alembic?

          1. re: chutney

            then again i would disregard the alembic as it's more of a bar type place and concentrates on cocktails with a food menu (not terribly extensive)......but fun!

            1. re: chutney

              thanks for all the tips chutney, laiola sounds interesting and i look forward to hearing more about aziza! it's so hard deciding but at least he visits twice a year, so hopefully i'll check off all of these places by the time i graduate!

              1. re: ajaw

                I'll mention that Laiola is one of the loudest restaurants anywhere, based on the SF Chronicle's decibel meters. I was there at 6pm on a Sunday when it was only half full at the start of our meal, and we wondered how we would hear anything once it filled up. Answer --- you can't hear anything when it's full. I thought the food was good enough, and the wine list is interesting, but we got a dud of a server who wasn't much help in answering our questions about it and misquoted the price for a full bottle. Anyway, my ears rang for two days afterwards and I suspect that I've permanently damaged my hearing by exposing myself to Laiola.

                2031 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

      2. My favorite Bay Area restaurant is Zuni, so I certainly am on board there. If you've ordinarily done dinner, you can try them for lunch or latenight so you can sample their burger as well as some oysters, etc. If you haven't been, it is more than worth the BART trip across the bay to experience the Cafe upstairs at Chez Panisse. If you could avoid the lunch crush, it can be a fun and memorable experience to try Tadich Grill, supposedly the oldest continuously running restaurant west of the Mississippi -- make sure at least one or two of you order the panfried petrale sole so everyone can get a taste. Be sure to get some baked goods at Tartine. If you can get in and are at least somewhat adventurous, you can try to get reservations for the prix fixe meal at Canteen. Have fun, and make sure to report back.

        5 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          Thanks nosh, Dad's been to Chez Panisse before (I'm dying to go) and I do think lunch at the upstairs cafe is very possible this time around. It's high on my list and I really like Berkeley in general. Canteen is an intriguing suggestion, I'd read so much about their brunch (my dad is not a breakfast guy at all) that I didn't really get to the part where they excel at dinner too. It sounds right up our alley, I'll put it on the shortlist! Thanks!

          1. re: ajaw

            I was going to suggest Canteen as well. They only do the prix fixe on Tuesday night. All their food, brunch and dinner, is delicious! I would reserve as soon as possible b/c they are very small (4 booths and 7 counter seats).

            817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

            1. re: meggie t

              We'll only be in the city for the weekend unfortunately, but it's still a possibility. Dad's on board with Laiola it seems, but is interested in trying Fifth Floor now (especially since we are staying at the hotel palomar, no reason to skimp on the booze if all we have to do is carry ourselves to the elevator!). So I suppose the reasoning has become one *fancy* night and one *fun* night.
              Can't find tons of feedback on fifth floor, but it seems scattered-ly positive. The menu looks nice for sure.

              1. re: ajaw

                Canteen is open for dinner Tues-Sat. Tuesday is the only prix fixe night, but they have a regular menu the other nights.

                1. re: ajaw

                  Fifth Floor has undergone a lot of changes (to put it mildly) - I haven't been recently though I've been interested in trying it. You will also be near Ame which is fabulous - and you will find lots of comments about it! I haven't been to Laiola, though it is in my neighborhood - I am a big fan of Aziza though. (And I love Zuni, too!)

          2. My suggestion would be Nopa. It hits all the notes you're looking for, and it even has a similar drink menu to the previously mentioned Alembic. The service is attentive, while keeping the casual vibe you're after. It gets a freakish mix of patrons, literally of all ages which makes for good people watching. The menu incorporates a lot of house made items, and locally sourced ingredients but not to the point where that's the main focus. The food is pretty solid, and the desserts are interesting in a good way. It's a well put together place that draws heavily from a lot of other restaurants so it's probably worth checking out. Most of the reviews of late are preoccupied with their reservation system unfortunately.

            1. My husband & I went to Orson for the Whisey & Pig dinner this month and the food was great and the cocktails were really fun and tasty. (Not really a whiskey girl, so my husband finished mine. Happy boy!) Chef Faulkner came to our table and we got the backstory about how the Pop Rocks in the Parmesan Pudding's red pepper jelly didn't explode before they got into your mouth. (Coating them in olive oil does the trick) I really like the decor and the Staff has always been very helpful whenever I called with questions and the service is quite good. I actually called them yesterday for a friend to see if they could do a Vegetarian Tasting Menu and they said "Absolutely!"
              So, if you have time, either for dinner or some drinks and a few apps (the Tempura Egg is fantastic!) go ahead and give Orson a shot. BTW, next month's Special Dinner (11/13) is Gin and Game, December 10th is Rum and Roasted and January 14th is Schnapps and Schniztel.