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Dine About Town - general impressions/what to avoid?

NoMoreSnuggles May 14, 2009 05:23 PM

hi - i'm looking for advice on Dine About Town. i'm planning a trip to SF which seems to dovetail with the dates of your June DAT promo. at home (Vancouver), we have a similar promo in February called Dine Out. in my circle of friends, Dine Out is controversial at best. we often avoid going to some of our favourite places because of the insane busyness, some restaurants will rush you through a dinner in order to squeeze 3 or 4 turns out of each table, and the quality of the food unpredictable overall. for the fine dining restaurants that are typically out of financial reach for most (thus, offering a 'deal'), my experience has been that Dine Out forces sub-par representations of what's normally excellent food.

so my question for you locals is, what's the DAT experience like? should i be making deviations in my vast and decadent eatin' schedule because of it? if so, towards participants or away from them? i'm assuming it's going to be busy because of the *economy*....

just so you know, my list of lunch and dinner stops based on research here and on the web as well as previous trips: Coi, Aziza, La Ciccia, Incanto, NoPa, Canteen, Laiola, SPQR, Gialina, Piperade, Quince, 1550 Hyde, Beretta, Heaven's Dog, Ame, Perbacco, A16, Bushi-Tei, Delfina, Boulevard (the last two being sentimental favourites from when i used to be able to get to your lovely city more often), Koi Palace for dim sum, a Fruitvale taco trek... maybe Mission Street Food cause i love the idea.

thanks in advance for your help!

  1. tvham May 14, 2009 08:40 PM

    One of the more intriguing spots for DAT is Sutro's at the Cliff House. The great views have always outshined the food but I've heard good things since George Morrone has taken over the kitchen. I'm probably going to check it out for lunch (a better value IMO and the great views!)

    3 Replies
    1. re: tvham
      rworange May 14, 2009 09:02 PM

      I very much liked Sutro's when I tried it for DAt in January. That being said, Michael Bauer gave it a mixed review and I have a feeling that the restaurant is not giving the chef the room he needs to star. I really wouldn't select it over any of the resturants in that list. Find for locals, but a visitor ... maybe not until I read more Chowhound reports.

      The thing with DAT is that usually it isn't a big bargain. At most you get the price of a free dessert or appetizer thrown in while having to stick to usually boring menu options.

      It has gotten a little better. In the beginning there was the DAT menu - soup (usually not on the regular menu) or plain greens, chicken or salmon, creme brulee for dessert.

      Often many of the restaurants offer a prix fixe year round. For example, 1550 Hyde always has a nice prix-fixe option. Nothing special specifically for DAT.

      Sometimes DAT is more expensive than a la carte. You really have to compare it to the menu.

      Looking at your list and the Dat offerings, I wouldn't change a thing. It is more a locals thing ... trying that restaurant you've wanted to for a zillion years .... hopefully on the cheap.

      -----
      Dine About Town
      San Francisco, Ca, San Francisco, Ca

      1. re: rworange
        Ruth Lafler May 14, 2009 11:36 PM

        Agreed. Check the sample menu before you decide, and if you can call the restaurant and ask what the menu for that day actually is and/or have them fax/email it to you.

        I think lunch is a much better deal than dinner -- sometimes the menus are so much the same the price differential is unwarranted. For what it's worth, Sutro's is one of the few places offering DAT for lunch on the weekends. That's something I think it worth trying.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler
          tvham May 15, 2009 08:15 AM

          Yeah, the reason Sutro's is so appealing to me is the fact you can book on a weekend for lunch plus the lunch options would be almost double the price if ordered ala carte :

          First Course
          Baby Gem “Caesar” - Boquerones, Parmesan, Pain de Mie Crouton, Meyer Lemon
          or
          White Brentwood Corn Chowder

          Second Course
          Penn Cove Mussels Steamed with House-made Harissa Caramelized Onions, Anchor Steam Beer, Kennebec Potato Fries
          or
          Steak Frites - Truffled Fries, Bordelaise, Red Wine Onion Compote

          Third Course
          Classic Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse - English Toffee, Chantilly Cream

    2. s
      sfbing May 14, 2009 07:33 PM

      I don't think a lot of your restaurants are on the DAT promotion. Aziza and bushi-tei are the only ones I see after a quick peek, so it probably won't affect you.
      http://www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/tas...
      I wouldn't go out of my way to eat at a restaurant just for the DAT promotion.

      1. a
        artemis May 14, 2009 06:28 PM

        it's controversial here for the same reasons as in vancouver. still, hounds have explored and reported back with some finding success. as i recall, aziza stays on its A-game, even during DAT. and while hornblower cruises is not chow, it's deeply discounted for DAT, making it worth it for some people. a cruise on the bay on a warm night can be very nice.

        threads to get you started:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/586812
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/470173

        1 Reply
        1. re: artemis
          pamf May 15, 2009 09:50 AM

          I had dinner at Aziza during the January DAT and it was excellent. They did limit which dishes were available as part of DAT.
          I think I actually preferred the 3 course format to their usual 5 course prix fixe, since I don't usually eat large meals.

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