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Gay Chocolatier visiting Fancy Food Show Weekend (01.16.10) searching for wedding proposal restaurant

Funny posting, no? Well, that's pretty much it. I'm owner of a chocolatier in San Diego who is launching his line nationally at the Fancy Food Show this coming weekend. It also happens to be my anniversary week and I plan on proposing to my partner. It will be a very busy weekend, but I hope to steal him away so we can have a romantic meal Saturday night, the day before the show starts.

Specifically, I'm looking for a great little spot anywhere in SF that is cozy and romantic and gay friendly. He used to live in SF 5 years ago, so something "new" would be preferred. I don't know the city as well as he, and we will be traveling about without a car. I don't really have a limit on the budget. Looking for it to be perfect.

Tried to do a quick search, but I really didnt get too far. I'm a sucker for french cuisine, so I have a reservation at L'Ardoise which being so close to the Castro, I assumed would comfortable. But that was pretty much just a stab in the dark. It would be lovely if there were other points of interest within walking distance. We may spend a few hours on foot in whatever neighborhood the restaurant is in.

Ideas? Help a chocolatier out!

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  1. I wouldn't confine yourself to the Castro for this--in general the food everywhere else in the city is better than the Castro, and outside of particular categories of divey ethnic joints, I wouldn't worry about homophobia anywhere. Especially among upscale restaurants where part of good service is discretion, you will not have a problem.

    That said, it sounds like you're looking for romantic and French. What does "romantic" mean to you? Candles? Dim lighting? Flowers on every table? Floral print wallpapers? Beaded lampshades? Boudoir/harem look?

    There are about a dozen decent to good French bistros in the city, some of which are somewhat romantic, but they tend to have tables jammed together and the food can be all over the map. There are fewer upscale French restaurants, and not too many of them are very romantic.

    2 Replies
    1. re: SteveG

      I definitely wouldn't say I'm worried about homophobia, I was just hoping to find something in a neighborhood that would have some comfort (for example, my to-be-fiance won't hold hands in the Mission or similar places). RE: romantic? Definitely quiet and cozy would be preferred over a crowded "hot spot".

      1. re: Eclipsechocolat

        In that case, I would recommend Absinthe in Hayes Valley. It's a nice strollable neighborhood near the Castro, but it has better food than anywhere I have been in the Castro. Across the intersection from a great new chocolate shop, lots of nice boutiques. Comfortable neighborhood for strolling hand-in-hand as it is only 4 blocks from the LGBT center and maybe 10 blocks from the edge of the castro. Very good French bistro food, excellent cocktail program, decent wine list, good service, decent cheese list, and a civilized amount of space between linen-covered tables in the main dining room. While the executive chef was gallivanting around on TV, I thought the food slipped a bit, but she's back and my more recent meals/snacks/drinks there have been back up to the original high standards. If you pick this place, when you call for a reservation make sure your special night isn't going to overlap with a symphony or opera crowd--they get slammed those nights up until 7-8 PM! They have a private dining room and a few nooks, so if you requested a slightly secluded table they should be able to manage it for you without any trouble.

        Another suggestion below, Gitane, is a good idea. It's a new restaurant with some of the best cocktails in the city, my favorite new interior design, a romantic but not foo-foo interior, and pretty good food. Not the best food around, but perfectly good and easily on par with L'Ardoise, which I have enjoyed but would really like to love more than I do. When you call, ask for the 2-person table in the upstairs corner that overlooks the lounge, I think it is table number 3, and is a rounded quarter circle that is really ideal for a romantic 2-person evening with beautiful views of the whole restaurant while at the same time allowing you to sit close to each other and whisper in each-other's ears if you want to. Gitane translates in French as "gypsy woman," which provides the inspiration for the food and decor. Think eclectic French/Mediterranean.

    2. Hi there. I too will be at Fancy Food, walking as an attendee. Might I suggest to you Gitane? It is tucked away in the corner of Claude Ln., an alley with charming French bistros. What I like about Gitane is the excellent cocktails, low lit ambience and of course the food. There is a lounge-like feel and this is quite the hot spot at present. It can get really packed later in the night, so I would recommend checking them out online and seeing what kind of availability they on opentable. Since you're a chocolatier, I would also check out their dessert of crostini with chocolate ganache and olive oil. Delish! Have fun in town.

      1. What about Zuni? It's not *that* cozy, but it is really good, a bone fide splurge, it's on the edge of the castro, and it's very gay friendly.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bbulkow

          I have had bad service at Zuni more often than not, so I wouldn't trust it for a special occasion. I still go back for the food, but I know what I'm getting into. There's also a good chance the prospective husband already has a strong opinion about Zuni, which hasn't changed much in over a decade and seems to elicit either strongly negative or strongly positive reactions.

        2. First off, congratulations!! (If he says yes -- :))))))))))

          Not French, but I like the Italian restaurant Poesia in the Castro. The photo on the website doesn't look like it, but I thought the atmosphere was pretty romantic and the food is very good.

          http://www.poesiasf.com/menu.htm

          I respect your partner's personal boundaries, but holding hands in the Mission really would not raise any eyebrows.

          1. I can't speak for others, but I'm finding myself stumped because a lot of the new popular restaurants are not designed to be intimate and cozy. Blame the economy, or just the overall trend towards bustling places with shared plates and communal tables.

            So which is more important to you, the new requirement, or the cozy? Unless an ingenious CH has a suggestion for both!