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Need something cool/fresh to impress Jaded Foodie

myst Oct 6, 2010 04:54 PM

Have a birthday dinner coming up for someone who dines out often and likes every type of food. So preferably combining good food with fun ambiance. A place with cool, fresh, sexy vibe preferred but can be "chill" vs. noisy.

We really enjoy small plates or places without overwrought dishes i.e. the birthday boy was most recently impressed by a perfectly crisp roasted lamb shoulder with a warm honey mint wine sauce on a bed of pureed/roasted cauliflower.

Can be in SF, East Bay, San Jose or Palo Alto.

Although we love it, I would prefer non-asian as we have that often (korean, filipino, chinese, japanese, thai and vietnamese!)

  1. m
    ML8000 Oct 7, 2010 04:55 PM

    Besides the good recs here, why not check out Manresa and Chez TJ on the peninsula or Benu or Aziza in SF, or Commis in Oakland.

    -----
    Manresa Restaurant
    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

    Chez TJ
    938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

    Commis
    3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

    Benu
    22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    3 Replies
    1. re: ML8000
      mariacarmen Oct 7, 2010 08:40 PM

      Second Commis. Nice space, too.

      -----
      Commis
      3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

      1. re: mariacarmen
        myst Oct 8, 2010 10:31 AM

        Thanks for all the great ideas. Several of these look like really great options. Manresa has been on my list (Vue Du Monde in Melbourne is similar) Gitane I had not considered before and seems to have the right vibe. We've just had a lot of good meals in restaurants without much of a "vibe". The birthday boy is 34 and appreciates places that seem "cool" but also likes very good food.

        Maybe jaded was too harsh a word.....

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        Manresa Restaurant
        320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

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

        1. re: myst
          myst Nov 1, 2010 12:52 PM

          Thanks again for all the tips. I ended up going to Gitane and the birthday boy was very impressed by the decor.

          The cocktails were delicious (Coupe Glacee and a Salucar Sling). I think the price is a bit high for what you get, but again part of the $$ is the experience and this is just what I was looking for...

          We had the sardines to start - i'm not a huge fan - it was about 4 sardines breaded and fried propped up on a bed of chopped apples with a thin cream sauce.

          My main was the chorizo stuffed quail - I enjoyed it but again quails are small so $25 seems a bit more in the steak range....

          My hubby had the steak bavette with marrow and had nice things to say - however, we both appreciated that salt and pepper was on the table as both dishes needed a little seasoning (and I am not one who likes much salt).

          A little bit of salt and pepper improved both dishes.

          For dessert we had the beignets, which were fine, but nothing like the New Orleans ones (i'm a big fan) and NOLA's in Palo Alto has a better version.

          That said, the ambiance was terrific and exactly what I wanted.

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

    2. c
      carfeng Oct 7, 2010 11:28 AM

      What about Foreign Cinema? I definitely classify the restaurant as cool with a "wow" factor, especially when contrasted with the grittier street scene outside. Love the food, especially a fried chicken I once had there (not sure if still on the menu). You might also consider Range or L'Ardoise (excellent and not overly fussy food)?

      -----
      Foreign Cinema
      2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

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

      5 Replies
      1. re: carfeng
        mariacarmen Oct 7, 2010 12:09 PM

        Agree. Very cool vibe, unique. You have to sit outside, tho, or it loses its appeal. Whatever pork they're serving is good, too.

        1. re: mariacarmen
          myst Oct 7, 2010 04:44 PM

          Thanks I have not been to several of these (have a toddler now) as I have missed some of the newest things.

          Will let you know where we go!

        2. re: carfeng
          bbulkow Oct 7, 2010 11:27 PM

          Disagree. For the jaded, Foreign Cinema is pretty standard stuff. Not to say it's not good, just not what the OP is calling for.

          Manresa's full-bore tasting menu is 100% wow. It's outside the budget you mentioned, but will be jaw-dropping. I was very happy there on a wednesday when the place wasn't overwhelmed with diners - the timing on the courses was far snappier than an earlier visit.

          That meal wouldn't be about vibe and tableware, it'll be about cutting edge food.

          -----
          Manresa Restaurant
          320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

          Foreign Cinema
          2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

          1. re: bbulkow
            JasmineG Oct 7, 2010 11:38 PM

            Yeah, I agree -- Foreign Cinema's food is fine, but I don't think that it's anything special (except for the brunch). The food at dinner kind of bores me, I don't consider myself particularly jaded. Not that it doesn't taste good, it does, it's just not particularly memorable or distinctive in SF.

            -----
            Foreign Cinema
            2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

            1. re: JasmineG
              mariacarmen Oct 8, 2010 09:58 AM

              i agree with both of you re FC food - just thought if you're jaded anyway, then cutting edge food might not be the lure - maybe he's been there, done that - and maybe scene is equally as important as "good" food. i do think the brunch is more special than their dinner.

        3. daveena Oct 7, 2010 09:49 AM

          Has he been to Commonwealth or Plum yet?

          3 Replies
          1. re: daveena
            Ruth Lafler Oct 8, 2010 12:56 PM

            I think Plum might qualify as "overwrought" based on his description. There are lots of cool new/new-ish places in the East Bay in addition to Plum: the new place in the old Eccolo location on Fourth St. (Zut?); Locanda De Eva; Hibiscus; Pican; maybe even Chopbar.

            -----
            Pican Restaurant
            2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              myst Oct 8, 2010 03:49 PM

              Thanks Ruth. We've beent o Pican and liked it. So for reference something like that but a little more zing.

              Gitane (from photos) looks like something that might work for ambiance and he is a big fan of Tapas style dining.

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

              Pican Restaurant
              2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

            2. re: daveena
              ankimo Nov 8, 2010 09:49 PM

              for any jaded foodie, i think morimoto, alexander's, plum, commonwealth, redd, commis, baume, benu, lers ros, so, sumika, incanto, los gemelos, shanghai flavor shop, should all do the trick for different reasons

            3. p
              pauliface Oct 7, 2010 09:47 AM

              In the last 6 months or so, I've had 4 food experiences in the city that gave me that great, I'm eating something wonderful and a little different and new, feeling. Ya know, with a little edge of surprise to it...

              Lolo's in the mission
              Kappa Goumi (sorry, Asian I know, but must be included!)
              Frances
              Bar Crudo

              Of these, Frances is the 'finest' and even that does not fall under the 'fine dining' category because it's a fairly informal place.

              If I had the food from any of these at a place where I was expecting michelin 2* dining, I might well be disappointed (or maybe not;: Bar Crudo's 1/2 chilled lobster may be the best I've ever had).
              But they all do what they do very well, creatively, and are just off and different enough from other places that I feel they fit the bill.

              1. f
                foodeye Oct 7, 2010 09:20 AM

                Prospect, the modern cousin to Boulevard, is new and good for a special occasion. Or Gitane, for the hidden, sexy venue.

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

                1. bbulkow Oct 6, 2010 11:50 PM

                  New/fresh will be new/fresh to them. Perhaps you can list a number of the target's normal restaurants.

                  1. m
                    ML8000 Oct 6, 2010 08:31 PM

                    What's the price range?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ML8000
                      myst Oct 7, 2010 12:48 AM

                      Price range can be anything from casual to $100 per person type place. He does not drink wine or cocktails or one at most so generally most of the budget is on food. If some fanastic place comes up with $$$$ I sitll might consider.

                      As for what is new/fresh, I guess I am thinking more of the vibe than the food. He is impressed by "cool" places so something with a little bit of a wow factor (sometimes this is just cool cutlery with him....).

                      Some places he liked include Bottega in Napa, Rumi and Vue Du Monde in Melbourne (Lebanese and Avant-Garde) Perabacco, Kokkari, and Fresca. Normal haunts are usually ethnic food - Indian, Thai, Korean, Sushi

                      And probably jaded from eating out too often....

                      Maybe I should cook or try out something odd like the Supper Club. Ha Ha.....

                      I know its hard to define because sometimes the food creates the wow factor, sometimes the drama (open kitchen/flaming platters) and sometimes something kitschy (like the caribbean place that had a jet as its waiting room).

                      -----
                      Fresca Restaurant
                      2114 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                      Bottega
                      6525 Washington Street Suite A9, Yountville, CA 94599

                    2. mariacarmen Oct 6, 2010 08:20 PM

                      How about Spork?

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                      Spork
                      1058 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mariacarmen
                        myst Oct 7, 2010 12:36 AM

                        Have not tried Spork will take a look.

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                        Spork
                        1058 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      2. v
                        vulber Oct 6, 2010 07:53 PM

                        Why is this foodie jaded?

                        Isa comes to mind...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: vulber
                          myst Oct 7, 2010 12:35 AM

                          I like Isa. They have that nice crisp chicken and I like the ambiance there.

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