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Best SF restaurant for 25th anniversary dinner

Having been away from the Bay Area for some years now (and happily ensconced in the Pacific Northwest), I find myself out of touch with the best and brightest restaurants. Oh, I know the top names. But what I'm looking for is an "insider's" pick of the one or two restaurants to choose for a very special occasion: 25 years of wedded bliss.

Other restaurants we have liked over the years include Cafe Boulud, Babbo, and Convivio (NYC), Guy Savoy (Paris), and Rover's (Seattle). We're looking for great food, but a comfortable atmosphere with relaxed service is actually even more important. Ideally, both would be sublime. On waiting list for TFL (I've been, wife hasn't), and if we get in we'll move the party to Yountville. But for now, I'm assuming SF.

So...where to go when you want to experience the best, most memorable dinner SF has to offer?

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  1. I would suggest Boulevard or Manresa. However, Boulevard is my top pick..the food is wonderful and current...the restaurant is beautiful but not overly fussy and wonderful service. I think it worthy of a 25th anniversary.

    1. La Folie, by a wide margin. Great food and decor. As for the service, the last time I was there they served me the wrong first course. They then gave me the one I wanted, in addition. Further, since they didn't want my wife to sit there with no food while I ate my extra course, they gave her an additional course as well. La Folie has been my favorite for special occasions for a decade and it remains so. Not too many places have retained quality for so long.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mc2

        La Folie tends to fly under the radar compared to some of the higher profile restaurants in the City. I think that's a better choice than Boulevard -- more intimate, more creative food. Here's a recent detailed review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6169...

        I belive uhockey called ahead and discussed some aspects of his visit -- I would certainly let the restaurant (which ever restaurant you choose) know that it's your 25th anniversary and ask if there is anything special they can do.

        1. re: mc2

          I think this is a good match up to the places they've liked, as well.

        2. My wife and I usually go to Zuni or Chez Panisse for those occasions.

          Boulevard's great too, provided you get one of the two-tops along the north side--very flattering lighting.

          I'd also consider Acquerello.

          1. I think Coi would be great for this. I have a very blurry memory of a great dinner at Guy Savoy, and for some reason think Coi would be the closest to this. The food is very inventive, a little bit playful, and very very tasty. The dining room is modern, but subdued, almost monochrome (which seems similar to Guy Savoy, IIRC).

            Susan

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            Coi
            373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

            1 Reply
            1. re: waldrons

              You'll want to check about Coi's schedule, since they have some guest chefs and a kitchen renovation coming up.

            2. Michael Minas is a very nice place for a special occasion. Great food and service, not too noisy. Nice location.

              1 Reply
              1. re: slipson

                Michael Mina is in the St. Francis Hotel, which is on Union Square.

              2. I'm spending my 30th at La Folie. If you want a 'culinary' experience, Coi might be the way to go. Otherwise, La Folie.

                1. Simple answer. Gary Danko. There is NO SUBSTITUTE. Period. Especially if you're a fan of Guy Savoy. Beautiful quiet room. Elegant presentation, but not fussy. Responsive service, but not invasive. Great cheese cart. Knowledgeable sommelier. Make your reservations now.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Marc Veyrat

                    On the other hand, Gary Danko has perhaps the least locally or seasonally focused menu in the area. The restaurant could just as easily be in New York, Tokyo, or Dubai.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Agreed, though it's still a good choice for high stakes occasions. It's my safe pick when I need a restaurant that will come through with zero service errors, but also avoid precious or stick up the butt proper service. Doing it for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary because I know that the food will not challenge them, it will be well prepared, and they won't make mistakes.

                      1. re: lexdevil

                        Speaking of which, I'm dining there on July 2. I notice they still have their Spring Menu on the website -- assume it will be Summer Menu on July 2. Will it differ much from the Spring Menu?

                  2. Looking at some of your likes , I think you would enjoy fleur de lys . Wonderful for that special occasion. More traditional then Guy Savoy .

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: celeryroot

                      Have you eaten there recently?

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                      Fleur De Lys
                      777 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                        1. re: celeryroot

                          If you can remember the details, a report might be helpful. The most recent one I found was a couple of years old and not wildly enthusiastic.

                    2. Gary Danko hasn't been the most highly rated restaurant in SF for no reason. It's a wonderful experience...the service is really impeccable and the food is too. The space isn't the greatest, but everything else makes up for it.

                      1. For a romantic special celebration I would go to Boulevard. It's always a wonderful experience - food, atmosphere, service. For a high end dinner with my foody friends where we spend a lot of money on wine and talk about food and wine non stop - I would go to Coi. Congrats on reaching your 25th anniversary.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Trevallon

                          I'm going to have to differ with you on that one. Boulevard is fine if (1) you're a businessperson on an expense account from yesteryear; (2) in town for a little weekend jaunt; or (3) a local who hasn't eaten there in a while. But it's far too noisy and, eh, dare I say, commercial, for a 25th wedding anniversary. Spouses who make it to that exalted pinnacle, either by virtue of God's grace or excellent scotch (or both), often are looking for a soaring dining experience (albeit a quiet and romantic one). Boulevard ain't that. Not by a long shot. And Coi? I had a fine meal there, to be sure. But I find dinner there to be a fussy and overdone production, like those at the old Elizabeth Daniel. There's also nothing that says 25th anniversary better than the strip club next door. No, for my money, I'll take a pre-dinner ride on the Hyde Street cable car as the sun sets (the extraordinary view of the Bay laid out before me) and a flawless dinner at Gary Danko. Ah.

                        2. I wouldn't rank Manresa with TFL - if you're going to drive an hour out of SF, you should substitute Cyrus instead.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Claudette

                            I'd rank Manresa over TFL on food, and that's not considering price. That said, Manresa is very California and the TFL is more intimate, better traditional service.

                            Not sure if anyone mentioned the Dining Room at the Ritz but it's in SF proper and if you're staying at the Ritz, that could be very, very nice.

                            1. re: ML8000

                              I'm in a similar situation, celebrating a big anniversary and B-day. We've eaten at Manresa a few times and are looking elsewhere this time. Am torn between La Folie, Masa and Fleur de Lys.