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$50 dinner for young, hip sommelier who likes French food and trendy atmosphere

a
albanyhunger Jun 15, 2010 03:34 PM

Hi all. Longtime lurker, first-time poster here. I'd love your advice for the following. I'd like to get my friend (young, hip sommelier) a restaurant gift certificate as a thank-you gift. I'm looking for a restaurant in SF that has either a trendy or sophisticated vibe. In an ideal world it will also have a great wine menu, will have opened in the last year or so, and will get a girl through dinner on $50 give or take. Bonus points if the restaurant is in Castro, Cole Valley or surrounding 'hoods.

Thanks in advance for your advice... I confess to not having paid much attention to SF's restaurant scene for the past year (I tend to be all about the East Bay) and my own ideas are probably pretty stale.

  1. v
    vulber Jun 15, 2010 04:12 PM

    Someone who knows more about wine than I do would have to evaluate their wine list, but Bisou in the Castro would seem to fit all of your other criteria.

    Unlike Bisou, I have not been to Frances, but reports seem to be very positive, with lots of great comments about the wine. However, it is very difficult to get a reservation

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    Bisou
    2367 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

    1. p
      pauliface Jun 15, 2010 04:52 PM

      One person can have a great dinner at Sushi Time in the Castro for $50.
      The catch here of course is that they have sake and not wine.
      And it's been open a while, but it flies under the radar and a lot of people don't know about it, even though it's the best japanese restaurant in the castro (and some of their dishes -- hiya yakkoo, oshitashi, tsukune, cucumber sunomono -- are the best in the city IMHO).

      L'ardoise is great, in the castro, relatively new. But you can't do it for $50 if you include wine.

      And then there's been a lot of talk about Frances, but I have not yet been.

      Another idea would be a $50 gift certificate to True Sake.
      This is an amazing store, and while it's just sake and not food, a sommelier might appreciate it.

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      True Sake
      560 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Sushi Time
      2275 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

      1 Reply
      1. re: pauliface
        v
        vulber Jun 16, 2010 11:44 AM

        L'ardoise can definitely be done for $50 with wine.

        However, while it's probably my favorite traditional French bistro in the city, it has more of a romantic vibe than a hip/trendy vibe.

      2. JasmineG Jun 15, 2010 05:21 PM

        Frances is perfect for this, and should fit all of your criteria. Though it's tough to get a reservation, it wouldn't be as hard for a solo diner to get a seat at the bar.

        1. a
          absc Jun 15, 2010 06:50 PM

          Frances. Great food, very good wine list. Just ate there w/ a winemaker friend and he agreed on the list.

          1. s
            stanbee Jun 15, 2010 07:37 PM

            try "Cav" on Market St ,same block as Zuni. Nice wine list. Good Halibut Cheeks Barigoule, Grilled Squid. It's hip with very good food and wine list.

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            Zuni Cafe
            1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

            4 Replies
            1. re: stanbee
              a
              albanyhunger Jun 15, 2010 10:13 PM

              Great suggestions- I'll look into Frances, Cav and L'ardoise. I know Bisou is one of her favorites, so I'm passing on that one, and she's not that huge of a Japanese food person (crazy, I know), so Sushi Time and True Sake are both out.
              Thanks for your help!

              -----
              True Sake
              560 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              Sushi Time
              2275 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

              Bisou
              2367 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

              1. re: albanyhunger
                v
                vulber Jun 16, 2010 11:46 AM

                Are you sure you're thinking of the right Bisou? The one I mentioned has only been open for a little over a month. Note that it is the same chef (and nearly identical menu) as Chouchou.

                Loretta Keller formerly had a restaurant called Bisou that is now Coco500, which might be what you're thinking of

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                Coco500
                598 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                Chouchou
                400 Dewey Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94116

                Bisou
                2367 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                1. re: vulber
                  wolfe Jun 16, 2010 01:08 PM

                  Loretta Keller formerly had a restaurant called Bizou

              2. re: stanbee
                Robert Lauriston Jun 16, 2010 07:48 AM

                Second on Cav. It's not new, but the food is great, it's comfortable for solo dining, and the wine list is one of the most likely to please a jaded sommelier.

              3. c
                carfeng Jun 17, 2010 04:27 PM

                I'd also suggest Contigo in Noe Valley. Or even Alembic in the Haight.

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                Alembic
                1725 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                Contigo
                1320 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                1 Reply
                1. re: carfeng
                  Windy Jun 19, 2010 03:00 PM

                  I left Contigo hungry after $50. And based on the service, they would have preferred I'd spent considerably more.

                  L'Ardoise is less expensive than Frances, but agreed, it's not a great place to eat alone.

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                  L'Ardoise
                  151 Noe Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                  Contigo
                  1320 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                2. n
                  nd06 Jun 18, 2010 07:57 PM

                  I would recommend Gitane.

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                  Gitane Restaurant & Bar
                  6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

                  1. Cynsa Jun 19, 2010 12:30 PM

                    We just enjoyed a spectacular evening at Baker & Banker - the restaurant's sommelier is a young and hip '32' and your friend can dine at the bar and I guarantee a wonderful time. We had the 2005 Georg Breuer Spatburgunder Pinoto Noir and the 2008 Thierry Puzelat 'le Telquel' Gamay. I'll post later. Bush and Octavia is Lower Pacific Heights and near Japantown. apologies for the out-of-focus pix of Collin Casey.
                    http://www.bakerandbanker.com/index.php/site/about/
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7008...

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                    Baker & Banker
                    1701 Octavia Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

                     
                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Cynsa
                      a
                      absc Jun 19, 2010 01:29 PM

                      I agree that Colin is a great guy and has put together a wonderful wine list. But we spent a lot more than $50 per person there.

                      1. re: absc
                        Cynsa Jun 19, 2010 02:09 PM

                        Dining at the bar alone for $50, I'd do a glass of wine and 3 Starters and be quite happy... or,

                        sample menu suggestion:
                        by the glass: 2007 Domaine le Sang de Cailloux Vacqueyras $14
                        STARTERS
                        French spring onion soup, shaved pecorino, extra virgin olive oil $9.50
                        or
                        Homemade ricotta and pickled cherry crostini, wild arugula, black pepper honey $10
                        ENTREES
                        Spring vegetable risotto, shaved porcini and parmesan salad $23
                        or
                        Hoffman Farm chicken breast, mini chicken pot pie, braised collard greens, natural jus $24

                        1. re: Cynsa
                          a
                          absc Jun 19, 2010 04:08 PM

                          I think it is doable but on your sample menu, I'd want a second glass of wine. Also a pity not to have something sweet to finish as it is a rare restaurant that has an exciting dessert list.

                          Bet the crostini are amazing!

                          1. re: absc
                            Cynsa Jun 19, 2010 04:32 PM

                            amazing, indeed. housemade ricotta, black pepper honey, pickled cherries.
                            Collin shared stories and descriptions - I loved it - drinking a Hobbit wine from a punk wine maker. I think the friend who is the young, hip sommelier will feel at home.

                             
                      2. re: Cynsa
                        t
                        Thomas Nash Jun 19, 2010 05:00 PM

                        I would concur that Baker & Banker is considerably more interesting than the other hot new places mentioned here that we have been to recently (Frances, L'Ardoise) and even than the always excellent Zuni. I think we paid something like $70/person and the extra could be justified for professional experience for a young sommelier...

                        BTW I was put off by the, to me unfortunate, name Baker & Banker... it suggested a partnership with a financial source but turned out to be the names of the chefs... Anyway the name was overcome by the excellent food, wine list, and ambience --

                        -----
                        Zuni Cafe
                        1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                        L'Ardoise
                        151 Noe Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                        Baker & Banker
                        1701 Octavia Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

                      3. a
                        artemis Jun 19, 2010 11:37 PM

                        Sophisticated, but definitely not trendy: Chapeau! $50, especially with the prix fixe, will comfortably cover one person's meal. The wine list is great, and the markups are very reasonable.

                        1. w
                          whiner Jun 21, 2010 05:26 PM

                          Why do I think I might be friends with this friend of yours...?? The 22yo girl I'm thinking of spends her nights at NOPA. NOPA has been open a while, but it fits your criteria.

                          1. Cynsa Jun 24, 2010 11:11 AM

                            Bistro Central Parc has an early dinner special/prix fixe for $17
                            560 Central Avenue
                            (between Hayes St & Grove St)
                            San Francisco, CA 94117
                            Neighborhood: Western Addition/NOPA
                            (415) 931-7272
                            Wed-Fri 5 pm - 10:30 pm
                            Sat-Sun 9 am - 10:30 pm
                            -go to Bistro Central Parc at Grove St. and Central for the early bird prix fixe - 3 courses for $17.50 if you request the special 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm menu. (call to see if this is
                            offered)

                            Bisou has a $26 prix fixe from 5:30 pm to 7 pm
                            http://www.bisoubistro.com/index.php?...
                            2367 Market Street

                            -----
                            Bistro Central Parc
                            560 Central Ave, San Francisco, CA 94117

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