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French on a Tuesday?

I need to take four people out for classic French next Tuesday. I don't want the Fleur de Lys price tag for folks who aren't that knowledgeable or appreciative.

Clementine is my gut reaction choice and want to make sure I'm not missing something obvious.

I took one of these four to Hyde Street Bistro back in July; he was thrilled (his first escargot) but I was unimpressed.

I have not been to Fringale, Gitane, Le Charm or L'Ardoise. Thoughts?

Thanks!

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Fringale Restaurant
570 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Hyde Street Bistro
1521 Hyde St., San Francisco, CA 94109

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

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

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  1. Fringale was good, charming, and very French the last time I was there, maybe two years ago.

    I've only been to Cafe de la Presse for wine and snacks, but the food was very good.

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    Fringale Restaurant
    570 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

    1. I just came back from a wonderful lunch at Fringale and recommend it. I've always liked Le Charm, as well, but something has changed there in the past months and I'm not as enthused. I had horrible fries there recently and the menu is limited and doesn't change as much--maybe they got a new chef. L'Ardoise is a cozy, romantic, neighborhood restaurant--have been there only once and really liked it. I don't think Gitane is really French anymore--if it ever was--new chef but the food is supposedly wonderful and what a neat atmosphere. There's also Chapeau on Clement which I also like a lot--i've had the cassoulet many times. The new Des Amis on Union is a beautiful restaurant and we've been twice for lunch and once for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed it, though some (including Willie Brown) are not enthusiastic about the food.

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      Fringale Restaurant
      570 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

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

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

      2 Replies
      1. re: bobpantzer

        Chapeau took over the old Clementine space. The old Chapeau space at 1408 Clement is still closed but there's a liquor license pending.

        http://www.abc.ca.gov/datport/LQSData...

        1. re: bobpantzer

          Gitane is wonderful, but it is more Mediterranean / North African and not classic French. Gitane is also very small it's difficult for larger parties. It's sister restaurant, on the same block, Cafe Claude has some of the classics as well as some more California inspired dishes and is reasonably priced.

          Both restaurants have outdoor tables if the weather is nice.

          If your friends enjoy interesting cocktails, you could stop by Gitane either before or after.

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          Cafe Claude
          7 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

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

        2. Strongly strongly recommend L'Ardoise, in my opinion the best bistro fare in SF.

          Clementine has been replaced by Chapeau, which is fantastic, although a step up from bistro fare (not sure what you mean by "Classic french"

          Make sure to make a reservation.

          Quite intimate

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

          2 Replies
          1. re: vulber

            Vulber, by "classic French," I mean offerings like what is on the menu at Café des Amis; marrow, blanquette de veau, pot au feu... (although they don't have a Duck a l'Orange).

            I am looking for circa 1970s French instead of California-inspired French.

            Thinking about it, I am leaning towards Café des Amis because it has many of the things I know these people will like; simple Hangar Steak with fries while on a Tuesday, I can get Frog Legs. I appreciate that Melanie has already saved me from the tartare with her picture of too much egg and while I thought their rillette on the dry side, would be willing to try again on their Jambon Persillé (which I adore and have yet to find an acceptable version in the Bay Area).

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            Hangar Steak
            1800 Bayshore Hwy, Burlingame, CA

            1. re: CarrieWas218

              If you want 70s, how about Le Central?

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              Le Central Bistro
              453 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

          2. http://www.ruesaintjacques.com/menu.html
            Havent been in awhile but old school French and was very good

            1. I'm also looking at Chouchou and Le Central (they are 1,000 Open Table restaurants...)

              Thoughts on those?

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              Chouchou
              400 Dewey Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94116

              4 Replies
              1. re: CarrieWas218

                The food at Chouchou is pretty good, but it's not old-school classic bistro fare.

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                Chouchou
                400 Dewey Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94116

                1. re: CarrieWas218

                  I haven't been to Chouchou, but I've been to Bisou a few times (sister restaurant) and have really enjoyed the food - however, it is a very noisy place, just FYI. As far as LeCharm goes, the former chef / part-owner now runs La Bedaine on Solano Ave. You could serve an entire "reheat at home" gourmet French meal from what comes out of that little space.

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                  Chouchou
                  400 Dewey Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94116

                  La Bedaine
                  1585 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

                  Bisou
                  2367 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                    I agree with Robert that Chouchou is not classic bistro fare, but I wouldn't even call the food 'pretty good'. Average, IMO, not somewhere I would take a guest. I'd go to L'Ardoise
                    or Le P'tit Laurent as Cynsa notes.

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                    Le P'tit Laurent
                    699 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                    Chouchou
                    400 Dewey Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94116

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

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      Agree that the food at Chouchou is average, and the service, in my experience, doesn't even rise to that level.

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                      Chouchou
                      400 Dewey Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94116