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Restaurant for a challenging group in SF?

jberezin Jan 7, 2010 12:21 PM

I'm in charge of making dinner reservations for a party of 9 in SF that includes 3 vegetarians, a wine lover, a 14 year old and a 10 year old. No problem, right? The veggies eat cheese and eggs, and a mixed menu is fine, but they would rather not just cobble together sides. The kids are reportedly adventurous, but something too fancy might try their patience. All the adults love and appreciate good food. Millennium probably wouldn't go over well with some of the non-veggies, and Greens has gotten mixed reviews from some in our party. Nothing's going to meet all of these needs, but I'd like to get close. Price isn't an issue. The East Bay has been vetoed, but something like Pizzaiolo would probably work. The best I've been able to come up with so far is Slanted Door, Dosa, and the big table at Bar Tartine. Any thoughts?

  1. j
    jberezin Feb 12, 2010 04:13 PM

    Ah...the best laid plans. So, we had a reservation at Firefly for 7 (+ 2 kids...they actually max out at 8, but were willing to be flexible on the kids). But then Mom had pneumonia and the kids flaked, so we ended up being 6. We called ahead and they were totally cool about the # change. The oenophile brought his own magnum, so he was happy and the 6 of us who made it all really enjoyed the food.

    I would HIGHLY recommend Firefly for groups where that have a couple of vegetarians and some dedicated meat eaters as well.

    1. j
      jberezin Jan 10, 2010 03:20 PM

      Thanks for all of your help! I'm going to give Firefly a shot. Will report back next month after the meal...

      1. j
        jberezin Jan 9, 2010 03:59 PM

        A friend just recommended Aziza...thoughts?

        4 Replies
        1. re: jberezin
          sugartoof Jan 9, 2010 05:56 PM

          It used to be a big favorite on Chowhound and probably still has devotees, but unless they've changed it around, the place is on the dark side. You should also take a look at the menu yourself because the vegetarians should be happy but depending on the kids, they might not like the flavors.

          Otherwise, expect meager portions in a non-traditional approach to the cuisine, with some fusion, westernized elements thrown in. The tasting menu seems to be the best way to go from reviews.

          I personally don't think it's the safe choice you're looking for, but your friend probably had good reason to think of it.

          1. re: sugartoof
            PulledPork Jan 10, 2010 12:40 PM

            I disagree that the portions are meager at Aziza. The lamb shank and the bastilla are particularly large and I find each of their plates to be on the bigger end of the spectrum. Kids would love a lot of the food at Aziza -- especially the spreads/pitas, the homemade ice cream, and the bastilla. That being said, I agree that it's probably too dark to be appropriate for your group.

            1. re: PulledPork
              sugartoof Jan 10, 2010 05:25 PM

              It depends on how picky the kids are. The spreads may be too eggplant/lemon-y for some kids. It all depends on what they've been exposed to, and their habits.

              The Bastilla would be a good dish for kids. As for the portion size, that's not particularly "large" for that dish, traditionally, and it is listed on the menu as a starter.

          2. re: jberezin
            saffrongold Jan 9, 2010 06:49 PM

            Aziza not appropriate for kids.
            I think your idea of Slanted Door or Dosa are fine choices

          3. v
            vulber Jan 7, 2010 07:44 PM

            Artisan pizza is "the thing" right now in San Francisco. It wouldn't seem nearly as trendy if there weren't a line to get into the place:)

            1. mariacarmen Jan 7, 2010 05:51 PM

              How about Gialina's in Glen Park? It's Pizzaiolo-like . . .

              5 Replies
              1. re: mariacarmen
                Euonymous Jan 7, 2010 07:20 PM

                Gialina does not take reservations, and because of their limited size and great popularity I think it might be quite hard to seat a party of nine. Their food is awfully good, though.

                1. re: mariacarmen
                  sugartoof Jan 7, 2010 11:15 PM

                  This was my first thought too. It's just not practical for the group of that size. I've never loved Little Star, but it's popular, so maybe that or Pauline's?

                  I wonder if someplace like Chilango would work. All of these suggestions might be too casual. Maybe Firefly?

                  1. re: sugartoof
                    bbulkow Jan 8, 2010 07:53 AM

                    I found little star on valencia fairly loud, I wouldn't use it for a gathering where I wanted to talk.

                    1. re: bbulkow
                      sugartoof Jan 8, 2010 11:58 AM

                      I was thinking of the Divis. location. It's about as loud as Gialina's.

                      1. re: sugartoof
                        vulber Jan 8, 2010 03:41 PM

                        no way you're getting a party of 9 without a ridiculous wait.

                2. v
                  vulber Jan 7, 2010 05:19 PM

                  I feel like a place like Perbacco kinda depends on the kids and what they're used to/what they like.

                  When kids think of pasta, they often think of mac and cheese or spaghetti and meatballs; and on a broader note, the things that Olive Garden passes off as Italian. Perbacco does have damn good meatballs, but it's just 3 of them on a plate, which might be a little disappointing to a kid.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: vulber
                    ceekskat Jan 7, 2010 10:00 PM

                    "The kids are reportedly adventurous, but....patience". Considering some of OP's choices, Perbacco is fairly conservative. BTW, I'm not sure what you mean about the meatballs (never had them) being "little disappointing to a kid". I've never left Perbacco hungry.

                    1. re: ceekskat
                      vulber Jan 7, 2010 10:33 PM

                      I more meant disappointing in the sense that theyr're traditionally served with spaghetti, not ala carte.

                      Kids might like the absolutely humongous dosas at Udupi....

                  2. c
                    ceekskat Jan 7, 2010 02:25 PM

                    Perbacco. Great pastas (incredible herb ricotta gnocchi), meats & wine. Kids (13 & 11) are looking forward to their dinner there soon.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ceekskat
                      daveena Jan 7, 2010 04:55 PM

                      Second Perbacco. It's relatively easy to get a reservation at too, even for a big group.

                      1. re: daveena
                        daveena Jan 8, 2010 06:21 AM

                        Oh wait - ha ha - I meant Bacco. I like Perbacco too, but I Bacco's more relaxed, and great for a large mixed group with kids.

                    2. Scott M Jan 7, 2010 12:53 PM

                      Is there a particular area of SF that is better than another?

                      One thought is LuLu

                      The restaurant has a wide variety of menu items and is wine friendly. It's relaxed enough for jeans and the 10 and 14 year old can be loud without drawing attention since it is fairly noisy. They can easily accomodate a party of 9.

                      The food is not groundbreaking or innovative but its solid enough.

                      816 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94107

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