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Must try tasting menu in SF (besides Benu)?

m
mtranny Dec 22, 2010 01:00 PM

My boyfriend is taking me out to dinner for my birthday and I'm rapidly running out of time to pick a restaurant. I would prefer a fine dining establishment with a tasting menu that will blow me away (I already took him to Benu for *his* birthday). Something in the French/new American vein would be great, but I'm also down for something a bit fusion-y in the same vein as Benu. Currently I'm considering Commonwealth, Saison, Masa's, Quince and La Folie. Thank you in advance!

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

Masa's Restaurant
648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

Saison
2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Benu
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

  1. Ruth Lafler Dec 22, 2010 01:04 PM

    Ame does a tasting menu.

    1. n
      nocharge Dec 22, 2010 01:23 PM

      Some additional ideas:
      The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton. French with Japanese influence.
      Also, if you like truffles, Alexander's might still be doing their $390 tasting menu which has some Asian stuff.
      http://www.alexanderssteakhouse.com/d...

      1. CarrieWas218 Dec 22, 2010 02:03 PM

        Personally, I was fairly disappointed in Benu. Perfect, but uninspiring and underwhelming.

        However, I adored Saison and am itch'n to go back...

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        Saison
        2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

        Benu
        22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. m
          mtranny Dec 22, 2010 02:17 PM

          Thanks for your replies! I'm very intrigued by The Dining Room at the Ritz, which wasn't even on my radar. Would we rank TDR above Coi, or..?

          I read the Somm at Coi is kind of bad. Is this still the case?

          2 Replies
          1. re: mtranny
            a
            arlenemae Dec 22, 2010 03:03 PM

            I loved The Dining Room...probably my best dining experience in the city. I enjoyed it more than Coi, Masa's, or La Folie. Definitely very highly recommended.

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

            Masa's Restaurant
            648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

            1. re: mtranny
              honkman Dec 22, 2010 03:57 PM

              Was very recently at Dining Room at Ritz and overall quite disappointed in the food (uninspired, boring) and underwhelming service.

            2. v
              vulber Dec 22, 2010 10:12 PM

              aziza

              7 Replies
              1. re: vulber
                Ruth Lafler Dec 22, 2010 10:18 PM

                Aziza doesn't have a true tasting menu, as far as I know. It has a prix fixe, but that's not the same thing, since you can choose from everything on the menu for most of the courses.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                  v
                  vulber Dec 22, 2010 11:19 PM

                  when i was there; you only got to choose the entree and the dessert, the soup, salad, dips, and bastilla were pre-selected. i'd say it's more of a hybrid between a prix fixe and a tasting menu

                2. re: vulber
                  Robert Lauriston Dec 23, 2010 08:50 AM

                  Aziza calls their (now $73) prix fixe a tasting menu, but I wouldn't, since it's only five courses and the portions are normal. To me, "tasting menu" means small portions of more dishes than a normal person could eat normal portions of.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    honkman Dec 23, 2010 09:11 AM

                    I agree that the tasting menu at Aziza is not a classical tasting menu (but we liked it as it allowed my wife and me to taste 9 different dishes) but I wouldn't define a tasting menu by the number of courses. Spago (LA) is well known for the tasting menu which also consist of "just" five courses. For me a tasting menu is define by the small portions of food which is not on the regular menu but is driven by what is available to the chef on that day to showcase is cooking philosophy.

                    1. re: honkman
                      Robert Lauriston Dec 23, 2010 09:53 AM

                      Spago's five-course tasting menu comes with three amuses and an entremet, so it's actually nine tastes, though judging from reports the ten-course version (15-20 tastes) seems to be more popular.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        honkman Dec 23, 2010 12:13 PM

                        We have eaten several times the 5- and 10-course tasting menu and the 5-courses has only two amuses (and I wouldn't call any amuse bouche in any restaurant a course. There is a significant different between amuse bouche and course. In addition you also get amuse at Aziza, so with your argument you should also count them for Aziza) so that you get only seven tastes (one more than Aziza).

                      2. re: honkman
                        Ruth Lafler Dec 23, 2010 10:45 AM

                        "For me a tasting menu is define by the small portions of food which is not on the regular menu but is driven by what is available to the chef on that day to showcase is cooking philosophy."

                        Well put! At Aziza even the courses "selected by the chef" come off the regular menu, which is why I don't consider it a tasting menu.

                  2. bbulkow Dec 23, 2010 02:18 AM

                    COI, Luce, and outside the city limits, Commis and Manresa.

                    Which ones are "must try" - non are considered blah. However, some are very grand affairs, similar to Benu. The Commonwealth tasting menu is a 6 course affair, thus in a different/smaller league, more like a prixe fixe instead of a full tasting menu. I'm sure with several amuse, where the tasting at Manresa is 10 courses and about 4 stock amuses.

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                    Manresa Restaurant
                    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                    Coi
                    373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    Commis
                    3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                    Benu
                    22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                    1. m
                      MichaelJJackson Dec 23, 2010 10:41 AM

                      My favorite so far is Ad Hoc, if you're okay with going up to Yountville. It's only 4-5 courses, but I was blown away both times I've gone.

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                      Ad Hoc
                      6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: MichaelJJackson
                        bbulkow Dec 23, 2010 12:41 PM

                        You would compare Ad Hoc favorably to The French Laundry, COI, TDRATRC, Benu etc? That must have been superior. What dishes did you have?

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                        Coi
                        373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                        The French Laundry
                        6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                        Ad Hoc
                        6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

                        Benu
                        22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                      2. v
                        vulber Dec 23, 2010 11:36 AM

                        given the story just posted on SF Eater about Benu serving cod semen and not letting the recipients know; perhaps it's better to stick to tasting menus that don't go off menu :)

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                        Benu
                        22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: vulber
                          honkman Dec 23, 2010 12:15 PM

                          What's the problem with cod semen ?

                          1. re: honkman
                            m
                            ML8000 Dec 23, 2010 12:19 PM

                            Well it is the money shot of high fooddom...or is it?

                          2. re: vulber
                            Robert Lauriston Dec 23, 2010 12:27 PM

                            The usual culinary terms are milt, soft roe, and shirako. I think that story might be bogus, it's not liquid.

                          3. g
                            gmk1322 Dec 23, 2010 01:06 PM

                            While not a traditional tasting menu I would go to Perbacco for the Bis or Tris Pasta tasting. It gives you more freedom because you and your bf could pick any 2 or 3 pasta options for tasting (up to 6 different if you went with the Tris). If you went that route you could still pick a couple of starters or split a main entree plus dessert. Hello Burnt Caramel Gelato con Pignoles!

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                            Perbacco
                            230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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