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Boston's Birdy30 is eloping!

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Hellooo Fellow Chowhounds! (i am very excited btw)

Just over a month to go until Birdy30 and her beloved are taking off to San Francisco and Napa Valley to elope.
On Thursday night, we will be staying at the Fairmont with other Bostonians. I must note that all in our little party are BIG on oysters/shellfish and champagne of some sort. Fun, festive, and something pretty awesome to remember this city by. My SO and I have never been and we have only one night here. If this helps, or maybe it doesn't, but we love alll sorts of food. But it just has to be good food.

Off to Napa for the weekend. The forum is open on this one because I am completely clueless as to where to begin/go. I am in the wine industry and I could always ask my boss but I am going to put my faith in you for great suggestions. Money really isn't any object either.

Thanks so much!

Birdy30

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  1. Sounds like a great occasion. Unfortunately, your questions are just too broad to be answered in any kind of meaningful way (especially the Napa question). There are so many possibilities!

    I suggest you browse the board for a few minutes -- maybe do searches on "oysters" and "Napa" -- and then come back with some more well-defined questions.

    1. For your oyster/shellfish/champage in SF:
      I have not been yet, but I'd ask around and see if waterbar fits the bill.
      I think they have a private area, they are on the water, on embarcadero, with bay bridge views, they specialize in shellfish. I've passed by and it looks possibly a little nouveau-foodie-corporate, but it could be delightful.
      waterbarsf.com and waterbarsf.com/private.php

      Audience?

      As for napa, I know little, but recently went to Ubuntu (vegetarian) and had a really interesting and tasty lunch.

      -----
      Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
      1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

      2 Replies
      1. re: pauliface

        Had an excellent dinner at Waterbar last weekend. Should work very well for oysters, shellfish, and champagne. I would consider Farallon a strong candidate as well. Both places have special raw bar menus.

        1. re: pauliface

          For your night in SF I forgot to mention Bar Crudo, which is excellent.
          My review from earlier this year is here:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7133...

          -----
          Bar Crudo
          655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

        2. I know that my questions were sort of on the broad side - that's why I came to this board for some help. I did my own research and here is what I came up with myself. Farmstead, Mustard's, Don Giovanni, Bouchon, Bisto Jeanty, Martini House, Restaurant at Domaine Chardon, Auberge du Soliel, and Morimoto. Any thoughts regarding these???

          Thank you so much!

          -----
          Martini House
          1245 Spring St., St. Helena, CA 94574

          Bouchon
          6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

          Morimoto
          610 Main Street, Napa, CA

          3 Replies
          1. re: birdy30

            One reason the question is so broad is that we don't have an idea of what kind of restaurants you like and what kind of experience you're looking for. For example, I would never recommend Bouchon and Bistro Jeanty to a visitor because from my perspective they're too much like French restaurants you could find anywhere and not distinctive to the California wine country, but a lot of visitors really like them. The more specific you are, the better recommendations you'll get.

            -----
            Bistro Jeanty
            6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

            Bouchon
            6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

            1. re: birdy30

              I can absolutely recommend Mustards. You'll need a reservation there for any weekend meals because they are always mobbed. Personally I think the Mongolian pork chop, hanger steak with watercress sauce and ahi burger are all standouts. Portions there are huge so it's a really good value. Don Giovanni is a beautiful space, but the food is good, nothing extraordinary. Restaurant at Domaine Chandon is a really special experience: beautiful location, great menu and service, but it's really expensive. Auberge du Soliel is famous for it's views...and that it's restaurant produces not-great food, combined with rude service and is WAY overpriced considering the quality. I really like Bouchon and Bistro Jeanty, but it's more for the location of being in Yountville (a really charming one-street village) than for producing anything but standard French bistro dishes. That being said, both cook very well and have very different vibes. Bistro Jeanty is a bistro in a former house with curtains, while Bouchon is more like a Paris bistro (and it has a great raw platter, BTW). I haven't been to the other restaurants on your list. If you're willing to go downscale, there are several terrific burrito spots and taco trucks in the Valley that I can recommend. Let me know if you want a list and I'll post them. Hope this helps.

              -----
              Bistro Jeanty
              6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

              Bouchon
              6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

              1. re: birdy30

                as you may have noticed from the place link, Martini House is closed.

              2. You might want to look at Zuni Cafe, we really enjoyed our most recent visit there. The oysters here are one of the things I enjoy most here. Very nice champagne selection as well. I think it would make for a memorable atmosphere for your event.

                I would 2nd the Farallon rec as well.

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

                Farallon
                450 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                8 Replies
                1. re: Gabatta

                  birdy30, I also just read your comment on the Boston forum. I'm also in the wine business.

                  Don't know how formal you want your meals to be, BUT.... in San Francisco, I'd suggest Zuni Cafe. Not a big oyster place, but the food is great and the welcome is warm.

                  In Napa.... where are you staying? which town? a lovely celebration brunch would definitely be at Domaine Chandon. They're famous for that sort of thing. My favorite meals are Bistro Jeanty (only like a French restaurant if you've never been to France), and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen. Cindy's is VERY casual, but great food and a lot of fun.

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

                  Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen
                  1327 Railroad Ave., St. Helena, CA 94574

                  Bistro Jeanty
                  6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    On the contrary, I'd say that Zuni ranks at the top of a lot of people's lists of good places in SF to go for oysters!

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

                    1. re: JasmineG

                      That may well be, but I've never had oysters there. ;)

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        Zuni typically has a separate oyster menu and 6 to 10 varieties in stock. They take great pride in their oysters.

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

                    2. re: ChefJune

                      Hi ChefJune!
                      I am a wine distributor here in Boston. I was a server for the longest time in many of the best restaurants too. I (we) like food a.lot. With that said, formality doesn't have to be the top choice. I just don't want a tourist trap. Zuni seems like it just might have to be the choice in San Francisco. Great food and a warm welcome - just sounds sooo inviting. (We are staying at the Fairmont)
                      Friday - Sunday night will be in St. Helena. Our Honeymoon night is Sunday because that is when our entourage of two head back to LA. We were in Paris back in July and had the most surly French waiter ever! Duh! Bistro Jeanty could fit the bill to redeem him. ;) Many people have recommended it so far. Even here.

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

                      Bistro Jeanty
                      6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                      1. re: birdy30

                        Birdy, I'm in France quite a lot, and Bistro Jeanty is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.

                        -----
                        Bistro Jeanty
                        6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          Oh hey, you're ChefJune from that great thread on Leon. Welcome aboard.
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/729292

                        2. re: birdy30

                          Zuni is the quintessential San Francisco restaurant for California cuisine. It would be hard to top for a one-night first visit to San Francisco given your criteria. Reserve soon because it fills up. It will definitely hit the oysters / shellfish mark too. I haven't been to Meadowood, but based on Kostow's cooking at his previous stop at Chez TJ that seems like a real good bet up in Napa.

                          Enjoy!

                          Michael (one of the ex-Bostonians here)

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

                    3. Hi!
                      If you really have one night, and money really isn't an object, you want to structure your evening with several restaurants. 3 would probably be perfect, maybe 4. Starting at Zuni for oysters and a champain toast would be a good choice. I would take Gitane next, because it's about the right distance away, has a party atmosphere, and very good food - but still small plates. Or maybe COI lounge. Then perhaps the Slanted Door, or I could see trying just entrees at Boulevard, or Kokkario, or maybe La Mar. I'd stick toward the financial district. Finally, a place with great deserts. My go-to here used to be jardinere because of their nice lounge area and port and desert wine flights, but I've heard it's gone downhill. Bourbon and Branch if your crowd is into cocktails - if you can get a reservation.

                      If you have enough people to fit in a single taxi, just taxi-hop. If you're doing a party of more (10? 12?) the whole thing gets complicated and you'll need a limo and do a lot of calling around - and do fewer hops, just for sanity sake. The size of the party likely is the first question. Second question is whether you really want to stay in one place (like a dinner party in a private room) or whether you want to move around, and whether your crowd is more wine or cocktail. There are some very nice 12 person private rooms where you can stretch out and have a full evening.

                      The benefit of multiple places is you get to see more of san francisco as you drive around (and avoid the "hey, we've been stuck inside, we could have been in chicago"), and you get less invested in finding the One Perfect Place.

                      But, see, at each stop I could call out dozens of restaurants depending on how much you like holes-in-walls, old-skool vs new-skool, and whether cost is really no object. Do give us a bit more to work with! A fun project.

                      -----
                      Slanted Door
                      Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                      Zuni Cafe
                      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

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

                      1. Eloping with an entourage is a whole new category for me.

                        It's not hard finding really good places in San Francisco for sparkling wines and oysters. Waterbar is ok if your posse is large, Zuni can be fun if your entourage is small. Bix can be a hoot if you reserve ahead of time, like to dress-up a bit and have an ear for music.

                        Napa? Maybe consider Sonoma. Call ahead to Keller Winery and reserve the private dining room in their hand-carved cellar. I haven't tried their catering service but my visit to the estate (private tour) greatly impressed me. It's a beautiful estate with stunning architecture. Pretty special.

                        -----
                        Bix
                        56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: steve h.

                          Thank you all for your posts. This is soooooo helpful. We have never been to California and we needed some sort of starting point. I promise you that I will let you know what we have decided. Oh! The entourage will consist of a whopping total of four people. :)

                          1. re: birdy30

                            I just re-read the "money isn't any object" portion of your message, so I really think your list should include Meadowood. Honestly the list you have is good but kind of uninspired. Places you might want to consider instead would be Ubuntu, Terra, Solbar, Redd and Ad Hoc. I don't know when exactly you're going, but Yountville is having a "Movable Feast" promotion through February with both dining and accommodation specials that might be worth looking into. http://www.yountville.com/around-town

                            -----
                            Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                            1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                            Ad Hoc
                            6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

                            1. re: birdy30

                              Given that you only have four people I second the food-hopping recommendation. Swing by multiple bars and eat small plates to get a good feeling for the city. bbulkow had good idea to stay in Embarcadero Area (FIDI) as you are near the water with great views. If you go to Gitane, the cocktails are fun and I recommend the stuffed calamari. Hog Island in the Ferry Building is fun for oysters too. You can just stop in and try a few (not sure though how late you are arriving?).

                              Where are you staying in Napa? Are you wine tasting or just dining? I like to wine taste at the Sonoma and Carneros wineries (Gloria Ferrar, Hess, Artesa). Domaine Chandon is very close to Yountville, so you could easily brunch there if staying nearby. Bottega is also an option for Italian food they have some good small plates and yummy bread. Might be nice for lunch....

                              Bottega

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

                              Bottega
                              6525 Washington Street Suite A9, Yountville, CA 94599

                              1. re: myst

                                I just made a reservation for Zuni Thursday night. But I am curious to find out about this $20.00 corkage fee that I see in many restaurants. If they have a liquor license, isn't it illegal to charge a fee? I thought only dry towns could.

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

                                1. re: birdy30

                                  Illegal, no. It is hard to avoid. Here's a old list.
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/492059

                                  1. re: birdy30

                                    Alcohol laws vary from state to state and county to county. In California it is actually illegal for a restaurant that does not have a liquor license to allow alcohol to be brought in for consumption. So only a place with a license could legally charge corkage. Liquor licenses -- and particularly wine and beer only licenses -- are not particularly difficult to get in California and most places allow you to bring in wine and charge corkage to compensate for the loss of their own sales and the cost of providing service, stemware, etc.

                                    1. re: birdy30

                                      so where have you decided on for Napa Valley?

                              2. Birdy, don't know if you realize Boston College is playing their football bowl game in SF this weekend - you may have more Bostonians celebrating with you than you realize! I will be rooting for Nevada - go Pack! Anyway, every recommendation given so far is outstanding, I am just chirping in to say that Bottega is an absoultey beautiful restaurant in the quaint and very walkable town of Yountville - stroll on by, even if just for a cocktail. Best Wishes!

                                -----
                                Bottega
                                6525 Washington Street Suite A9, Yountville, CA 94599