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La Folie? or Dining Room? or...

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Hello fellow CH'ers to my north! I will be visiting your lovely city once again for my birthday! I am flying in earlier than my friends and family and will have one dinner solo. I cannot tell which resto will be best as I have not done fine dining solo(just casual places). Idon't know if it's a faux pas to read a book at such places, I might be uncomfortable if not able to(what's there to do but stare then?). Plus, it seems places like the Dining Room have really low lighting so I might not be able to anyway! So a place where a twenty-something year old chick won't feel too out of place. I'm not interested in a bustling scene, I want a somewhat low-key quiet dinner this time. Any cuisine will do, I'm kinda itching to do a good tasting menu if possible as I won't have the chance once my entourage arrives. TIA!

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La Folie
2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

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  1. I think The Dining Room is probably a better choice than La Folie for a single diner -- the atmosphere is more "clubby" than romantic, and since it's in a hotel, they're probably used to dealing with single diners.

    1. First off, I don't think there is any restaurant in the city the I have dined at that I did not feel comfortable eating at, especially the high end places. I just had a great experience at Benu a couple days ago by myself and while I was there another person was enjoying it alone as well.

      It is definitely ok to bring some reading material along or a pad to doodle on or take notes during the diner. I do agree the The Ritz does handle more single diners than others. While I got seated they actually offered and brought me some magazines to look at during the tasting menu. Personally, I dont bring any material with me because I also use the time to just relax, think about the day, people watch, and most of the time tables next to me start to mingle with me or actually invite me to their own table. I usually have to dine alone at nicer places since my peers dont understand spending more than $5 on a burrito for a meal. I am 21 years old and have never felt out of place or uncomfortable. I dont really focus on anything like that anyway, I just think about what is about to come to my table.

      So, think about what restaurant you want to eat at the most and try not to put that behind which one you think could be more accommodating because it should not be a problem with any restaurant that offers tasting menus. If it were me and you were choosing between La Folie and The Ritz, I would go with La Folie. For me the food is very special, the staff are friendly, and its a lively place that is nice for looking around and seeing what is going on around you. If there were actually others that you were thinking of, go for it.

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      La Folie
      2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

      Benu
      22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      3 Replies
      1. re: benv

        Excellent advice, benv. I'm feeling much better about this already! I'm still torn though between LF and DR....I've wanted to go to both for a while now but I am also starting to miss real French food something terrible since I came back from my vacation there a few weeks ago. Maybe it will depend on how much food I will actually be able to eat that night. I'll have to do a little more soul searching.

        1. re: baloney

          If you are set on choosing just between those two, I would go for La Folie. First, it is located on Polk St. which is a happening street with a good amount of foot traffic and lively places. For me, being a solo diner, I always like it when I get there a tad early to walk around, pop into a book store, people watch, etc. But that is just me. I also think they should be very close to earning a second Michelin star. The service feels very relaxed and all the staff are nice. I have been to both over 10 times and would say even though The Ritz probably does deal with more single diners since it is in the hotel, I have always felt for relaxed and eased at La Folie. And, dont be intimidated by the food portions, it only depends on how you order. For me, I always have a huge appetite and always prepare myself when doing a multi-course dinner. It also helps that my mode of transportation is on a bike, so my appetite is usually larger. I, actually, usually get 6 courses there with 5 savory and then a final dessert. My first experience awhile ago I was so hungry that I actually did 9 if I remember correctly. Some of the kitchen staff came out at the end to applaud me. Would I do it again, no, but it was an experience.

          Roland Passot is great. If you like your Foie Gras this is the place to have it. He is one of the only big chefs I know that still does work in his own line most every night. I was talking to him a week ago and he mentioned some new changes to the menu are coming soon, like truffled foie gras.

          In case you do go, some of my favorites are the tempura duck egg over sweetbread pancake; sweetbread, pigs feet, and lobster terrine; seared foie gras; and the roti of quail and squab.

          You should be in good hands.

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          La Folie
          2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

          1. re: benv

            Just had dinner at La Folie and while it was good, it did not thrill me. My biggest objection is the crime against shellfish done in that sweetbread, pigfeet, lobster terrine. I think the love of pig parts and fat has gone too far with this dish and I could not finish it. The poor lobster had no chance. The foie gras soup was sublime tho.

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            La Folie
            2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

      2. If it were me, the bar at Gary Danko is where I would eat...yum! Lobster Risotto there is my absolute favorite dish anywhere.

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        Gary Danko
        800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        1. I had dinner recently at The Dining Room as a single and I have to say they are MORE than accomodating. They offer something to read if you wish (they have magazines) and there were a number of other singles, as well as a family with 2 youngish (very well behaved) children, some couples and a group of 8ish.

          The service is fantatic, the food was incredible and the setting very peaceful. At 20 something you may be amongst the youngest - but no one would notice.

          I felt very pampered and well attended to (as has been the case on my previous visits - altho it's been a while and all the staff seemed new). La Folie is one of my favorites - but haven't been in a while. TDR is much more elegant and peaceful if that helps. (btw they are very willing to accomote eg I don't care for beef and they were happy to substitute (a wonderful) duck dish from the other menu :)

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          La Folie
          2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

          1. Sorry for reporting back so late but I ate at La Folie about a week ago and it was great! The highlight was probably the seared foie, amazing. I was stuffed to the gills and left quite a bit lighter in the pocket but it was worth it. Can't wait to come back to SF soon and try the Dining Room next!

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            La Folie
            2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

            1 Reply
            1. re: baloney

              Thanks for reporting back!