2010 San Francisco Dine Around Town - feedback
Now that the 2010 DAT has begun, I thought it would be nice if folks would post a "trip report" about where they ate and how they like their meal.
So, please tell us:
1. Where did you eat?
2. Where you there for lunch or dinner?
3. What day of the week did you dine?
4. What did they serve?
5. Were their choices available and if so, what were they?
6. How was the service; did you feel rushed?
7. Were you seated on time?
8. If you have eaten at the restaurant during non DAT, did you note any differences [other than menu items offered] like portion size, time to get food etc.?
9. Misc. comments.
I will post next week when we are enjoying DAT.
Well, I would have had a report but my friend completely forgot about our lunch and did not show!! We had a 12:30 reservation at Vitrine.
The DAT menu they showed me was the same one as one the website. Very good deal. I looked at their non-DAT menu and the cheapest entree was $19. You could elect to have a dessert instead of a first course, or have all three courses for $24.95.
The restaurant is located on the 4th floor of the St Regis. Very elegant atmosphere. They are also very strict about reservations. If one member of your party is more than five minutes late, they give the table away. Reservations are required for the DAT menu; if you are a walk in, you can only order off the regular menu. They are booked solid for the next two Sundays.
Sadly, no comment on the actual food.
I look forward to reading people's DAT feedback too!
So, betterbeheaven, they would not seat just you at the table? Or did you choose to not eat alone?
If you had a reservation for 4 and 1 person was late, would they not seat the 3? OR if you told them you had a res for 4 but it will only be 3, that's it -no res?? Is this typical for San Francisco?
They would not seat me until the entire party had arrived; however, as it looked my friend really was not going to show, the hostess offered to seat me to eat alone. I just chose not to.
They will not seat until the entire party has arrived, but if the party ended up being 3, I think they would seat
I did the DAT for lunch yesterday at Lark Creek Steak. The $17.95 menu was a salad and a cheeseburger, they also had a $19.95 or $21.95 menu for soup and (I think) a steak. The cheeseburger was large and juicy, cooked medium rare as requested, served with a small pile (just enough) of large-cut (but crisply cooked) French fries. I ate the salad and half the burger, and had the rest for dinner.
Lark Creek Steak
845 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103
I'm scheduled to do 4 DATs. Yesterday was Vitrine and I was pleasantly surprised.
Vitrine Lunch on Sunday.
Offered Menu on website. It was exquisite. Great effort and awesome value.
There were 2 choices for each course.
Hostess was a bit awkward. We arrived early 10:45 for 11:00 reservations. She didn't seat us, but there were others who came after us whom she seated. Other than that, service inside the restaurant was pretty good.
Seated at 11:02 for 11:00 reservations.
Overall Vitrine was the best DAT experience I've had. I feel that the chef is really trying to impress you with his offerings. Portions were average sized (not skimpy). He was innovative (uses foams, etc). Plating was gorgeous, everything was cooked well. Vitrine is comparable to most one starred michelin restaurants in the city!
On the schedule for DAT... maybe Luce, Destino on 1/27 and Bushi-Tei on 1/31. Will let you know how those go.
My partner and I went to Absinthe on Friday for the DAT lunch. I've never eaten there and was curious after all the hype. My partner had the Croque monsieur and I had the mussels. Both were tasty, tho I'm not a fan of shoestring potatoes which came with the mussels. It is a lovely space and handsome bar but we felt the DAT menu did not give us much of the sense of the kitchen, nor did it give us a reason to return. Competent but not special
Five friends & I went to Ruth's Chris on Saturday for DAT dinner. They're also offering two prix-fixed dinners on their regular menu -- one for $39.95 and one for 49.95 -- which offer a wider selection of appetizers, mains, and sides. They also offer upgrades to the DAT meal where you can substitute certain courses for an additional charge.
I ordered the DAT dinner but opted for the $8 upgrade to a 16-oz ribeye. A couple of us stuck with the filet DAT main course, two went for the $39.95 option with braised short rib main and a gumbo appetizer, and one went for the $49.95 option with chilean sea bass.
Honestly I wasn't that impressed by the ribeye, and I'm wondering if Ruth's Chris overall has a decline in quality. Although the dishes were pretty much the same, it seemed like their meat quality at DAT a couple years ago was better. Overall I think it's a good deal for satisfying but not great food.
FYI the appetizer course was a house salad, the side was a choice of mashed potatoes and the dessert was a duo of chocolate mousse and carrot cake. All were nothing special.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
1601 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94109
went to #2 for my DAT experience to XYZ (instead of Luce) for lunch because we were nearby at the Fancy Food Show today. They offered 2 salads and either a Burger or a Croque. I tried their beet salad and croque. The Beet Salad was well executed and impressed me for being a DAT dish. There were about 8 half beets, with toasted slivered almonds, goat cheese balls dusted with almond crumbs and a sweet marmalade with some arugula. Good balance of textures and taste. My croque was delish as well. The star of the sandwich was an onion compote with an orange marmalade flavor. My boyfriend had the W burger not on the DAT menu and it was also delicious. Service was awesome. Our server was funny, comfortable and not stuffy.
p.s. I really liked Vitrine and dropped in today to see if we can do another DAT... and the hostess, a bit snooty says that they dont' do DAT lunch without reservations. Oh well... XYZ satisfied me!
Tried DAT for dinner at Campton Place. In order to be more efficient, they were serving only the DAT menu.
1st Course: Baby green salad or butternut squash soup
The salad was ordinary, but the soup had a lot of flavor and was quite rich, due likely to heavy doses of cream and/or butter. I would have liked a more distinctive starter than soup or salad. That's diner stuff.
2nd Course: Trout, Short Ribs, or Gnocchi.
The trout fillet was good with a crispy skin, although on the salty side. The short ribs were flavorful and didn't need a knife to cut. It came with some mashed potatoes which were barely lukewarm, however. Nobody ordered the gnocchi so no comment.
3rd Course: Coconut Panna Cotta or Chocolate Cake
The panna cotta was perfect with small bits of pineapple on the side. The chocolate cake was unusual: It was deconstructed with a small piece of plain chocolate cake and on the side was whipped cream, a dollup of peanut butter which was way too sweet, and some warm banana slices. It all looked good but I didn't like it that much. I'd definitelyt go with the panna cotta.
Service was mostly what you'd expect at a fine dining establishment like CP, although upon entering, nobody offered to check coats. With this bad weather we're experiencing, many had heavy jackets, hats, and umbrellas and I found it lacking that this was not addressed.
It looks like DAT has brought out quite a few diners to CP. In a previous DAT visit, the room was quiet, almost like eating at the library. On this occasion, the crowd was more lively and much louder than before. It was about 3/4 full for dinner. Also, just an observation and not a judgment, most people dressed very casually. On my previous visit, I noticed most men had sportjackets or suit & tie. This time, there were guys wearing jeans and one guy had a baseball cap.
Overall, it was a decent dinner and if DAT is offered again, I would go back since there are few restaurants that offer a bigger discount as compared to their regular menu prices. Fifth Floor is one of the others.
OK, here's the start of my reviews.
We ate dinner at Campton Place last night. As reported above, the only menu offered was DAT.
We like that there were choices, that doesn't seem to be the case in all restaurants.
We both had the Butternut Squash with Coffee and Olive Oil Soup.. We found it to be very flavorful and it had a nice consistency - a bit pureed, It was an ample portion.
My husband ordered a beer, I had Pellegrino.
i ordered the Shortrib, my husband had the trout. The trout was called sea trout, it looked and tasted like salmon. The menu on the website indicated Sea Bass, but that was not on the menu.
The fish was was nicely cooked, flaky and husband felt it was a little salty,but he does not salt his food; he said he would not call it salty. It came wilted chard.
My shortrib, boneless, was tender and flavorful. I found the gravy extremely flavorful, but there was not enough of it. There was a bit of mushrooms and what seemed to be mashed potatoes. There was also a bit of wilted greens.
My husband had to remind the waiter about his beer, which seemed to have been forgotten.
My husband had the Valrhona Chocolate Cake with peanut butter mousse and carmelized bananas and a touch of whipped cream. I had coconut pannacotta with bits of pineapple [didn't not seem like they were fresh, but rather were canned??] and raspberry foam.
Due to beer being "forgotten" they did not charge us the $10 for the litre bottle of Pellegrino.
They took our coats when we were seated and returned them as we got up to leave.
The service was attentive. The room was pretty full, the noise level was midrange for San Francisco.
The attire was business casual, I did not notice anyone wearing jeans.
On Monday I enjoyed the DAT Lunch at Campton Place with my aunt and uncle. Sounds like the choices were the same as dinner. There was an option of having 3-courses for $24.95. We also got the wine pairing for $17.95 for two full glasses of wine per person that would otherwise have cost about $25-30. I only drank about 1.33 glasses of my serving but both Ruby and Ben, who are in their 80s drained their glasses.
Tasmanian sea trout
Coconut panna cotta
340 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94108
We had lunch today at Spruce.
We arrived at 11:45 and were seated promplty. We were given a nice table along the wall with a great view of the restaurant. It is a lovely room, done in dark brown and had a very comforting feeling, especially on this rainy day.
They were serving a DAT menu along with their regular menu.
We both had the DAT menu:
The first course was a velvety, silky smooth Parsnip Soup with Black Truffle Emulsion and Candied Chestnuts. The soup had a marvelous flavor and mouth feel. Again, a good portion. Rolls were served which were a nice change from sourdough bread.
The entree was a Celery Root Risotto with Maine Sweet Shrimp and slivers of Black Trumpet mushrooms. This was a treat! The shrimp we tender and tiny, the mushroom were a symphony of flavor.
We ordered dessert and had beignets. the 8 [yes, 8!] warm tasty morsels, were served with a chocolate orange dipping sauce and a creme anglais.
The waiter was friendly and knowledgable. My husband expressed interest in the $33 Nora beer that was on the menu, the waiter acutally brought the bottle over so we could see it.
We were most impressed with the food, the ambience and the service. We would absolutely return.
This was 5 star meal.
Dinner tonight was Fifth Floor.
We were seated on time. Though Opentable would not get me a table for two, there were plenty of tables available the entire time we were there; we ended up booking a table for 4 and had dinner with friends.
The DAT had no choices. Forgive me because I didn't jot notes down but it was -
a jidori egg with potato and truffle oil. Entree was a pork shoulder with a bit of pasta and some peas. Dessert was a huckleberry tart with meyer lemon sauce.
My husband had the DAT, I ordered scallops off the menu.
They did bring us a taste of duck mousse with the compliments of the chef. Nice consistency, tasted suspiciously like liver.
I tasted the egg dish, it was very rich and tasty. I did not tasted the entree; my husband told me my pork shoulder was better. I tasted the tart, it was tasty but VERY small.
My scallops were nice, fresh and firm with a nice sear on them. I got 3 of them, there were also some fingeling potates  and a bit of bacon.
For dessert, I had Fifth Floor sundae: popcorn ice cream, with fudge and malt foam. Yummy. They brought a dish of truffles, chocolate merangues and some homemade marshmallows.
The service was good, It was quiet and not very busy, we were surprised.
All said, we were disappointed - the meal was only okay. We had really expected more in the way of creativity and flavors. Based on this meal, we would not return.
I had a Sunday night dinner at Aziza and a Monday lunch at One Market.
First, Aziza. Aziza is a definite must, as any reason to go to Aziza is a good one. Birthday? Aziza reservation. Parent visit? Aziza reservation. DAT? Aziza reservation. I believe there were past posts on Aziza's DAT menu, not much has changed. Aziza's DAT menu includes options from its regular menu.
First course had about 6 - 7 choices. Notable missing items from the regular menu items are the basteeya and sardines. But there is no wrong in Aziza's starters choices, so I'm not complaining. We had the meatballs and spreads.
Second course hae about 5 - 6 options. I believe it included the cous cous (both the vegetarian and the meat versions), chicken, atlantic cod, even its lamb shank. I can't remember the other choices. All available in the regular & online menu. We had the cod & cous cous.
Two options for dessert. Chocolate mousse with some type of spice cake, and cranberry compote? Second choice was passionfruit semifreddo with pistachio & some crumbled crunchy spice cookies and cherries.
Not sure if my description above is accurate, but we had an amazing meal, which is definitely the trend in Aziza. Service and ambience (a little loud in the main room, quieter in the back) was also amazing. I may be returning within the week!!
Second, my Monday lunch at One Market with the coworkers. The lunch menu can be found in the DAT website. Two choices for starter (salad & scallop soup) and three for main (risotto, mussels, and squash skewer). I was not very excited to go, just by looking at the online menu. I have never been to the restaurant and do not want a mediocre first impression.
The waitress highly recommended the mussels, so I had the scallop soup and mussels. I like the light herby preparation and the mussels definitely taste fresh. I had a light but deceptively filling lunch (also helped by the delicious bread starter - Acme?; but portion sizes are more generous that I imagined) - overall a good meal though not impressed. Service was extremely friendly. I would have a hard time returning because i can't justify the prices based on my so-so experience. If someone is treating, I'd jump on the chance to try the regular menu items.
Overall, great DAT experiences!
One Market for Saturday dinner. 1st course was Caesar or Cauliflower soup. 2nd was steak, petrale sole, or squash (veg option). 3rd was bread pudding or something I can't remember. We did 1 DAT menu (salad, steak, bread pudding). All was good, but not the most interesting chow on their menu. I ordered the 5 course beast dinner, which was duck this week (terrine, warm salad, ravioli, roast breast, creme brulee). The duck dinner was $14 more for two extra courses and a serious jump up in flavor and interest. All of the food was good to great, but the DAT menu wasn't the best representation of what One Market can offer. No problems with service, which was efficient. I was impressed with how they paced our meals with a 5 course meal and a 3 course meal. Very satisfying meal for 2 and we were out of there for $130 after tax and tip.
re: Shane Greenwood
Had DAT lunch today at One Market.
For starters both of us ordered the Cauliflower/scallop/apple (?) soup, which was fantastic - great interplay and contrast of flavors - too many flavors to remember, but well integrated, and the soup itself was excellent in texture.
Mains were a 'puck' of duck confit in a bed of red wine risotto. Good flavor on the duck, though almost swamped by the risotto flavor. Very tasty all around, though I prefer risotto with a bit less liquid.
Dessert was a small cup of butterscotch pudding, on a bed of chocolate creme caramel (maybe?) with a quenelle of creme anglaise on top. Small, rich, and nicely balanced.
Compared to their regular lunch menu prices, this was a steal, and both food and service were good.
When the bill came, they presented us with the DAT bill, and an "uncorrected" bill showing what the lunch WOULD have cost if we'd paid regular menu prices - this is to ensure that their servers get the full measure of the tip, and are not penalized by the reduced lunch price. We complied with that...
I went away very pleased with the lunch, and would go back in a heartbeat if prices were like this.
One Market Restaurant
1 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
We did DAT at One Market for lunch on Friday. I had the same menu as you, except I did not have dessert. FWIW, you got to pick 2 items: starter and entree or entree and dessert. If you did all 3, there was an extra charge.
The Cauliflower soup had nantucket bay scallops, asian pears, pickled ramps [like leeks or scallions]. It was very tasty, smooth and satisfying.
The risotto was cooked al dente and the duck confit was flavorful and a good amount of the rich duck. There was a lot of red wine surrounding the risotto, but I enjoyed it.
My husband had the mussels. There was a large bowl of them and they had been cooked with lemon grass, thai basil, coconut and had a lovely broth in the bowl, perfect for dipping the wonderful french rolls that came with butter.
This was a great lunch and we were pleased.
Went with a group of five people to try DAT at Foreign Cinema last night. They give you their regular menu and put an asterisk next to the items that you can order as part of DAT. The choices were
1) In appetizer section, a cheese course with tapenade and things.
2) In starter section, a Moroccon soup with squash that I had and was very lovely. It had a nice drizzling of some kind of colored oil that made for a beautiful presentation. Very nice. Also in the starter section was a Caesar salad that some of my friends ordered that looked fresh and hearty.
3) In the entrees, there were three items with an asterisk for DAT. They included: a risotto with mushrooms and sage that my friend ordered and he liked it but didn't seem totally impressed by it, I ordered the mahi mahi that had some Indian spices in it (seemed like a lot of the items marked for DAT had an Indian theme). The fish was prepared all right, it wasn't amazing, and I did like the Indian like yogurt sauce that came with it. But I have to say probably the big winner is the Curry Fried chicken that a couple of my friends ordered. The curry flavor wasn't very strong, but it was just such a big plate of fried chicken. Since it had slight curry, the skin wasn't super dry or crispy, but my friend let my tried a bit and the meat was just so easy to eat. I can't say it was super moist, but just so tender. I think if you go for DAT at Foreign Cinema, you should get this entree just because it's such a value meal. Super big chicken pieces!
For dessert, there were three options: 1) granita with citrus flavors like blood oranges, 2) chocolate pot de creme, and 3) chai flavored creme brulee. I got the creme brulee and really enjoyed it. The chai flavor was again subtle and had slight cardomom taste to it that I enjoyed. It was done well, and would recommend this as the DAT choice along with the chicken!
We opted for brunch at Foreign Cinema instead of DAT. It was wonderful! I had 2 fried eggs deglazed with balsamic, rose potato-roasted garlic hash, tender greens. DH had 2 poached eggs: grilled duck breast, warm salad greens, croutons, currants, shitakes, sherry.We started with Apple Pop Tart and fresh orange juice and finished with Pot de Cream and a Chocolate Truffle Cake. Great Meal.
We went to Roy's last Friday, since while nothing blew me away, I thought it was a good value for $35. We went as a party of 6 and they didn't bat an eye when we all wanted to order from the DAT menu.
I do like how we got a real starter instead of soup/salad like most places, and in their case, it was even a trio! The lobster potsticker (seemed more like gyoza, actually) was easily the best one, but the seared tuna was also good. I thought the ribs were just meh, but my hubby and brothers-in-law liked it.
For the entrees, we got the butterfish, salmon, halibut, and braised short rib. I tried everyone else's dish and I thought all the fish dishes were much superior to the short rib dish. The butterfish was my favorite though and I'm glad I ordered that for myself...I always get it whenever a restaurant has this fish and it's always been great. It's usually $30 so you really get your money's worth with the DAT menu. The portions are huge so it doesn't seem like they cut it down for DAT.
Most of us got the molten chocolate cake for dessert, which was awesome. Since it's my favorite dessert, I've had similar dishes at many restaurants and I thought they did a better job than most, probably because they make it to order instead of just heating it up like most places do. My non-chocolate-eating hubby got the pecan tart and he thought it was good, but nothing mind-blowing.
We ordered wines by the glass and they had a pretty decent selection, which I didn't expect but was a nice surprise. Service was good in general, we had to flag the servers a couple of times, but we didn't feel like they were rushing us or that they were any less unhappy that we were ordering from the DAT menu.
I think that if you're expecting exciting and inventive cuisine, you'll probably be disappointed. But if all you want is a hearty meal with tasty food and good portions, this is a great place to go to for DAT. I doubt I'll ever pay non-DAT prices for this place, but it was a good experience overall.
We're going to One Market next this Friday, looks pretty good from other people's postings here. My sis just went there and she said they give you a wine pairing (for appetizer and entree) for $13 which is not bad at all. Looking forward to it and will report back after!
I was actually just skimming Roy's website (considering it for this weekend) and while they do normally offer a $35 prix fixe menu, that menu does not offer the macadamia nut mahi mahi, which the DAT menu does. That dish alone is $30, making DAT a good deal if that's the dish you want.
Yes, we looked at their winter $35 prix-fixe menu online, but the DAT menu includes more expensive items (mahi mahi, butterfish) that they didn't have for the regular prix-fixe.
My thoughts on Roy's were similar to Ruth's Chris (which I also thought was a good deal for DAT). They're both normally expensive restaurants that may not be worth the money unless you go during DAT. Sure, they have branches in every major city, but if I'm vacationing in Hawaii, I would never eat at Roy's when I can eat at places like Alan Wong's, nor would I eat at Ruth's Chris in NYC when there are so very many other options that I can't get in the bay area. The best way to try these places seem to be right at home, and with a discount. :-)
Went to One Market last weekend. My hubby wound up getting tempted by the "weekly beast" (it was rabbit) and decided to skip the DAT dinner.
I got the "deluxe" version of DAT for an extra 10 bucks. I had the cauliflower soup as the appetizer. The portion wasn't huge (almost the same size as one of my hubby's 5 courses), but I thought it was enough for soup. The duck entree was much larger, it came with three large slices of duck breast plus some duck confit. I thought it was very tasty and definitely worth the extra $10. The chocolate cake was really good too, it was more like a flourless chocolate cake instead of a lava cake, which I prefer anyway.
Since the hubby had the 5-course while I got a 3-course , I also ordered a cheese course, since at first I wanted an extra course to even things out a bit. I think it wound up being a bit unecessary though since my entree about the same size as his 2 courses. We only ordered two cheeses, but they sure gave us a lot of bread, grapes, and marcona almonds to go with it. I was already stuffed before we even had dessert.
The wine pairings were $20 for the 5-course (4 wines) and $13 for the 3-course (2 wines), and the pours were extremely generous. My hubby had around half a glass for each pairing and I had almost a full glass for my first course and a full glass for my main. If more restaurants offered pairings these affordable I wouldn't ever bother bringing my own wines.
We were initially going to go because of the DAT deal, but I was pleasantly surprised that their menu and wine pairings are very affordable for a 1-michelin star restaurant. I would probably go back even without the DAT deal. The weekly beast is definitely a bargain at $50, and I would like to try it if they ever have duck or pig on the menu. Nothing blew me away, but I thought this place was an excellent value for DAT and their other prix-fixe options.
Went to Aziza last night. It was wonderful, me and 3 friends shared the following :
Spreads with homemade grilled flatbread, skewered meatballs and grapes, and Lima beans, Couscous w/ prawns, chicken and lamb sausage, lamb shank, and mackerel dish. For dessert we had two servings each of the chocolate and passionfruit.
Everything was freshly made, exquisitely prepared and seasoned just right. Spreads and Meatballs were great but the real standout was the Lima Beans dish, which was sort of like a lasagna/casserole of lima beans. Wonderful. Meats were tender, the Mackerel was simply one of the best mackerels i've ever had. And to this day, IMO, Aziza is the only place where they can somehow make couscous really shine, and I'm not even a fan of couscous in general. Portions were very good. Though I haven't been to the restaurant on a non-DAT, I can't imagine they reduced the serving sizes. My whole party was very comfortably full and satisfied by the end of the meal. Both desserts were very good, but my favorite was the Chocolate. Everything seems simple enough, but just the seasonings and flavor combinations really make this a great experience.
Aziza is one of my favorite DAT deals, there's about 6 choices for apps, 5 for mains and 2 for dessert. Also, their cocktails are very creative, and are listed by your favorite alcoholic base (ie gin, brandy, vodka etc) with really something for everyone.
Our table server Katya was top notch, friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful. The pacing of the food was perfect, we weren't rushed at all. The supporting staff had our water glasses refilled efficiently, and plates and utensils were replaced almost as soon as we were done with each course.
Aziza has been my best DAT experience of the 10 or so DAT meals I've done over the last 3 years and I would love to go back for the 5 course tasting menu.
5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121
I love the lima bean dish at Aziza!
It is my impression that folks are on to the fact that Aziza is one of the better DAT deals. I thought about giong when I was in town a few weeks ago, but by the time I checked, it was sold out for reasonable times on DAT nights (but not sold out on Saturday when they don't offer DAT). I remember running into the same issue the year before. Next year, I will make plans earlier! (or bite the bullet and go some time other than DAT. though, btw, I've never ordered the tasting menu; always seems like too much food for me, especially since I want the calories for one of those drinks or two....).
A quick note on my lunch at Asia de Cuba yesterday, the last day of DAT. Choices were a four-course bento box with a variety of choices for each component or a lobster club sandwich. I went with the lobster club, which turned out to be a trio of slider-sized sandwiches, shown here.
I picked the jerk fries as the side, just OK, wish they were spicier and didn't have that hint of sweetness. The lobster bites were quite good with a mango-chili mayonnaise dressing, crispy bacon, lettuce and tomato. The little buns were grilled. The chocolate opera cake was nice. Small, but presented nicely with a squiggle of dulce de leche. This option also included a choice of coffee or tea. Good service, pleasant room, and a nice deal for the $17.95 lunch price.
Asia De Cuba
495 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94102
re: Ruth Lafler
re: Ruth Lafler
Windy and I had a very nice DAT dinner last night at Fifth Floor. As I've mentioned before, in my mind the best "use" of DAT is to eat in a more expensive restaurant where you get the high-end atmosphere and service without the high-end price. In a town where the prices at mid-range restaurants have crept closer and closer to the higher end restaurants, this is an important distinction to me. Actually, looking at the regular menu at Fifth Floor, the prices aren't any higher than a lot of more casual places, with entrees in the mid-20s, appetizers in the 8-13 range (except for the foie gras) and desserts 8-10 (except for the cheese plate).
The DAT menu was included with the regular menu and as mentioned above, offered no choices. A wine pairing was available for $20. After inquiring what the pairings were, we ordered one DAT menu with the pairing, and supplemented with two more appetizers, a dessert, and two more glasses of wine. Total cost after tax and before tip was $117.
The DAT menu was:
Crudo (king mackeral and yellowtail) -- paired with sake
Stuffed quail -- paired with a French Burgundy
White chocolate almond dessert -- paired with a madiera malmsey
Beef tar tar
Dungeness crab ravioli
Fifth Floor sundae
A glass of Evolution (aromatic white wine blend from Oregon)
A glass of moscato d'Asti
All the wines were delicious. I know nothing about sake, and I was surprised that it not only paired well with the crudo, but exceptionally well, I thought, with the beef tar tar, which had some crumbled blue cheese with it. Blue cheese and sake? Definitely not a classic combination, but it was delicious! Windy remarked that the pours were generous for tasting portions.
Everything else was very good, although we had a few quibbles: the quail came with two or three tiny halved Brussels sprouts, and it definitely could have benefited from the vegetables playing a bigger role to balance the richness of the quail. Both the beef tar tar and the quail also could have benefited from a little more generous saucing -- the sauces were good, but there was barely enough to scrape off the plate. The quail was cooked perfectly. The only disappointing dish, I thought, was the Dungeness ravioli -- the flavors didn't come together, and I think again it would have benefited from being sauced, instead of being placed on the sauce. Basically, we thought the kitchen was on the right track with their technique and flavor combinations, they just needed to be a little less restrained in putting them together.
The desserts were surprisingly similar in concept, although very different in flavor. Both came in crocks with a dense chewy cookie/cake base layered with creamy, gooey stuff. The trick was to dig the spoon down and get all the layers in one bite. While the white chocolate almond was good (especially the almond cake at the bottom), the Fifth Floor sundae was a masterful combination of flavors and textures: dense chewy chocolate cake, creamy popcorn ice cream, malt foam and some crisp, crunchy chocolate nut tuilles. I think they could have benefited from some better presentation, though -- perhaps a glass vessel that would show off the layers.
As reported above, we got a little amuse of duck liver mousse on a spoon with some microgreens; I thought it had too strong a liver aftertaste. A plate of sweets came with the bill, including a green macaron (pistachio, with a touch of raspberry jelly?), a couple of marshmallows, a coconut macaroon, a brownie and a fruit gelee. The bread basket contained two moist chewy breads from Firebrand Artisan breads in Oakland: a plain whole wheat and a whole wheat currant bread with an orange cast that Windy thought might indicate some pumpkin. Service was good, although I thought our waiter, while technically proficient, fell a little short on being knowledgeable about the food (he didn't know where the bread was from, and incorrectly said the bread with black flecks in it was olive, rather than currant). Coats were checked, water glasses (spiegelau crystal stems) were refilled promptly, extra "share" plates were brought for each course (four, as the ravioli and the entree were brought out separately), our two-top by the window was roomy, the seating was comfortable, the lighting was flattering (small spots directly over the table, so we could see the food while not being brightly lit ourselves), and the noise levels were pleasant -- a degree of luxury that's rare in restaurants in the same price range in San Francisco.
I would definitely go back, especially, as I mentioned above, as the regular menu wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be. The bar menu also looks quite appetizing.
re: Ruth Lafler
Not much to add except to agree with Ruth that DAT was a great introduction to Fifth Floor, and they do a fine job of impressing first-time guests. I was greeted by several different people upon entering, all of whom wanted to make sure I was taken cafe of.
The space is elegant and intimate--equally good for a date or a business dinner. The regular menu is not as expensive as I'd perceived.
I'm not sure quail was the best showcase for an entree, simply because it was a bit small, and the ravioli was disappointing (crab, pernod, olives?). But both the regular menu and bar menu had many appealing options. And desserts which sounded complicated were simply wonderful. Fifth Floor really excels at execution--everything comes together on your plate and on your fork.
Wines are reasonably priced; I had a lot of fun browsing their list online. The cocktails look great too.
What was on the DAT menu for others who've eaten at Fifth Floor?
I think the issue of the quail being small was more that the plate needed something else on it. I thought there was plenty of quail, since it was pretty rich, but it needed more than a couple of bites of Brussels sprouts to make it feel like and entree instead of an appetizer.
I went last week and the DAT menu had the same appetizer, crudo, although I think that the fish might have been different. Short ribs were the main entree and a generous portion was served. For dessert, there was a banana and chocolate concoction.
I was also surprised that the prices on the regular menu were similar to those of a medium to high-end restaurant in San Francisco. We sat in a side room and everyone was very friendly, but there was a slight funky odor in the side room. That was the only thing that put me off. Perhaps the carpets absorb odors.
I went off of the DAT menu since the crudo did not appeal to me. I had the egg, I forget the name, but it's their specialty and it was delicious. It was served with a truffle sauce and I might just go to the bar one day to order it again. I had the pork belly with a special pasta as my entree. The pork belly was nice, but the portion was rather small (2 or 3 small pieces of pork). There were about 4 to 5 papardelle-like pasta on the plate. For dessert I ordered an almond tart that I was very happy with. I am glad that they participated in DAT since I have been put off by negative reviews and my perception that the prices are too high.
I think Fifth Floor is one of the restaurants that "gets" DAT: it's a chance to bring people in, show them what you can do, and impress them so they'll come back. I'm thinking it might be a nice choice for my birthday dinner with my parents -- most restaurants are too noisy for a dinner where six of us can all hear each other talk.
BTW, I couldn't remember who the current chef was, so I looked her up. Jennie Lorenzo has quite an impressive CV! In this article she specifically mentions "transitioning" to "more approachable, less expensive" menu of New American cuisine.
re: Ruth Lafler
Part of what I liked about Fifth Floor was the emphasis on the food and dining experience as opposed to the chef. This is a very competent kitchen, but it's not a trendy ego trip.
(I just ate at Commis and got to watch starry-eyed people take their photos in the open kitchen. Which might have been more understandable if we'd liked the food there more. )
A special promotion with restaurants having a set menu at a usually less than normal price.
So if you want to get a taste of the San Francisco food scene, June is the time to travel. The 7th annual Dine Around Town runs June 1-15. During this food fest, restaurants around the city offer special 3-course lunches for $21.95 and/or 3-course dinners for $31.95.
At French bistro Chouchou, you could have escargot, duck leg confit and creme brulee. Or the popular PlumpJack Cafe offers a lunch menu featuring braised short ribs with parmesan polenta and red wine mushroom sauce, and apple huckleberry crisp.
400 Dewey Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94116
There is always a discussion of whether the DAT menu is a real "deal". The menu is restricted and the price might be lower by only a few bucks - or might be a real steal. If one is flying here, and paying hotel bills, getting to order exactly what you want might be worth a few extra bucks.