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Anniversary Dinner please help narrow them down!

My lady and I will be celebrating our Anniversary next month and would like to go someplace nice. Her only requirement is that it is a more "upscale" place, as in the men are wearing jackets and the better halfs in dresses. Right now what's floating around in my head is Quince, Acquerello and Perbacco. I hear a lot of good things about Perbacco but it seems more of a business type of joint. I'm curious about the new Quince place, it is very "upscale" and has very positive reviews as well. Finally my co-worker just ate at Acquerello and she loved it, the 3 courses for $60 doesn't seem bad either.

Another place I'm curious about is La Folie however we did eat French the last time we went out so I was thinking something different. I guess a nice place that is romantic and upscale for her and good food for me. If there are any other places please let me know. Thanks!

PS: Our Anniversary is near V-Day so we will kill two birds with one stone but I never really dined out here over Valentines before. Is it really that bad and should be avoided if possible? I figure these higher end restaurants know how to handle these special occasions.

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  1. I like Perbacco. It's not a special place, just one I can count on when staying in the Financial District.

    The old Quince was one of my San Francisco favorites: wonderful pasta; good wines; very good service. The new Quince sounds every bit as good plus they now have David Lynch in charge of wines. I knew Lynch back in his Batali days. I've taken his classes, I have his book. The guy is good.

    At the end of the day, however, I would recommend La Folie. I took my wife there for her birthday in October. The meal exceeded expectations. I asked the waiter to supervise both our menu and our wine pairings. It was memorable.

    1. My choices in order:
      La Folie

      I think Acquerello has the nicest and intimate dining room and the food is well executed. La Folie is also very nice but the back dining room is not as nice as the front, and I just didn't feel it was as intimate/romantic feeling as Acquerello (the La Folie bathroom is also a bit of a hassle to deal with).

      I haven't been to Quince since they moved. My experience at the old location overall was positive but the food was more hit/miss then either Acquerello and La Folie. I had the tasting menu at Quince and the pastas were the standout dishes. The other courses were not as successful.

      I enjoy Perbacco but it doesn't have that "special" night out feeling that Acquerello and La Folie do. At Perbacco the food and service are very good but it's not as comfortable and can be loud and cramped depending on where you are seated.

      1. Your assessment is right on of Perbacco -- too businessy for a true occasion dinner. i also fear that Quince, while fabulous, may not meet the "men are wearing jackets" requirement, as it is elegant but still somewhat trendy.

        And while you cannot go wrong with any of these ideas, it might be worth considering Gary Danko if you can get a booking and have not yet been. If you are a looking for a place where the EXPERIENCE, beginning to end, will feel elegant and completely special, I have yet to visit a restaurant in SF that matches Gary Danko. From the second you step in until you leave, lagniappe in hand, Gary Danko is a class act, The price point is quite comparable to Acquerello (assuming you don't start ordering ounces and ounces of Osetra), so I think it is a matter of which menu you find the most appealing (and where you can get in!).

        2 Replies
        1. re: sosharp

          Second on Gary Danko. Though it is not cheap, I think it's actually a pretty good value. Also, this place has "special occasion" written all over it.

          1. re: sosharp

            For what it's worth, my husband and I were quite disappointed with my birthday dinner at Gary Danko this past September, particularly for the price. Service was excellent, but we were underwhelmed by the food and decor. Both of which were fine, but not in any way exceptional.

          2. I don't know of any fancy restaurant where everyone dresses up. The only restaurant I know of around here with a dress code is the French Laundry.

            I think Acquerello is the least likely to attract people who are dressed down.

            1. You may wish to try Jardiniere. If what she's seeking is 'fancy ambience' it really fits the bill. I'm not sure you could stll get a reservation for V-day itself, but if, as you say, your anniversary is close, you could see if you can get one of the upper floor tables with a view of the gorgeous bar.

              I personaly also love the food there, but for romance, the setting is really first rate.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mzscahlett

                hubby and I went to Jardiniere for a late anniversary dinner in October, after a symphony concert. Never got around to doing a full report, but while ambiance was nice (we did have one of those tables you mention) the food was only ok, service was very slow and poorly paced, and our server had a bit of attitude. We chose it partly for location close to Davies Hall, but mostly because I've been a fan of Traci des Jardins and have wanted to try it for a long time. Afterwards, I was sorry we hadn't just taken a cab to Acquerello instead, or perhaps gone to Boulevard, where we've had a very nice anniversary dinner in the past, and where the food has been excellent the two to three times I've eaten there (in a similar price point).

                On Valentine Day's Jardiniere has a pre-fix, $125 a person. Pretty pricey, which is why I would recommend not having the dinner on VDay. By comparison, hubby and I spent about $250 total but that included a bottle of wine, tax and tip. Granted, we did skip dessert, mostly because we figured it could take forever to get it....

                1. re: mzscahlett

                  here is the Jardiniere Valentine's Day menu, from their website:


                2. Thanks everybody for you advice, i ended up snagging a table at la folie. I wasn't able to get a table for acquerello for that particular night. I also was able to request a table in the front dining room and they will be offering their normal menu so that's good news. I went to Jardiniere for their $45 prix fixe monday and it wasn't anything to write about. The decor is very nice as we were seated upstairs however I wasn't expecting much from a 3 course with wine pairing for $45. Anyways thanks everybody for your advice I'll report back after the meal!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Justin L

                    Good call on La Folie. Bring an appetite.
                    Happy anniversary!

                    1. re: steve h.

                      Thanks steve for the rec, i hear the portions are pretty big. Is a 3 course enough?

                      1. re: Justin L

                        A three course meal is more than enough. Let your waiter know this is a special night. Have him confer with chef and put yourself in their capable hands. I was more than satisfied with their food/wine selections. Maybe my best meal ever in San Francisco.

                  2. After a month of anticipation I finally dined at La Folie. All I can say was from start to finish the entire experience was exceptional and definitely surpassed my expectations. When walking in we were seated promptly in the very attractive front dining room. It had just the right lighting and it was quiet enough to conduct a normal conversation. The decor was first-rate and very romantic, perfect for a special occasion!

                    First Amuse- a slice of lobster with a meyer lemon yogurt I think. A nice bite that did it's job in waking the taste buds.

                    Second treat- was an egg yolk that was still inside the shell, there were some other ingredients but I tasted mostly the yolk but it was a little creamier and served with a little crouton.

                    1st course
                    my gf- seared foie gras w/ huckleberry and aged balsamic
                    it was absolutely delicious and the serving was very generous. Nice and fatty with the acidity and sweetness from the huckleberries and balsamic providing a great contrast
                    I had the foie gras torchon
                    I haven't had foie gras for a while and we definitely made up for it. Wow served with brioche and some fleur de sel on the side. Very good reminded me of my last trip to Paris, something much needed.

                    2nd Course
                    my gf- lobster on top of a butternut squash ravioli with some greens (i dont remember what exactly)
                    Another knockout, the lobster was super flavorful and buttery there was some acidity in the greens that cut through the fat. She enjoyed this dish so much! all I got was one teeny tiny bite and it was gone!
                    I had the butterfish on top of a cauliflower puree with an uni sauce
                    I didn't know uni was in this dish when I ordered it and when the server told me i was ecstatic! This dish did not dissappoint and every component of this dish worked very well together. The fish was cooked perfectly and we were so quiet during this course, enjoying each and every bite.

                    3rd (last course, so full!)
                    my gf- quail stuffed with squab and mushrooms.
                    All the courses we had and others I saw were extremely beautiful but this one topped them all. The quail was wrapped around crispy potato strings with the squab perfectly cooked. There was also a quail egg inside a circular ring of potato. I spent 5 minutes taking pictures of this dish and my gf was getting antsy!

                    i had the beef trio
                    this was the only mishap of the night and it was completely my fault. The menu is a bit overwhelming and I honestly wanted to try every single item on that menu. I ended up taking the appetizer/ Fish-shellfish/ poultry-meat route and I was completely flustered when choosing my last course. We spent probably 30 minutes looking over the menu and I didn't want the server to wait any longer so I ordered the "la boeuf" at last minute. ti was not a bad dish whatsoever, I did enjoy the filet mignon along with a little slider and a braised beef short rib. It was just too much beef and not how I wanted to end the night, it seemed like something I can get at an ordinary restaurant. Other than that it would be good for beef lovers. I should have ordered the duck ahhh!

                    All in all this place was great and my girlfriend was truly satisfied with the entire evening. The servers were extremely attentive and efficient, they were there when you needed them and gone when you didn't. The wine pairings were well chosen and complemented each dish. A memorable night and worth every penny even though I'm eating tuna out of a can for the next week. thanks for the rec steve!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Justin L

                      Sounds like you enjoyed a wonderful evening. La Folie is pretty special.