HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Upscale dinner recs?

The BF and I are planning a trip in late April—a late birthday celebration for him and just a general fun trip. We're planning one blow-out celebratory meal.

Budget is not an issue, preferred cuisine is American or French, or any of the offshoots of that. A wine list that is Bordeaux-heavy would also be preferred, but not a requirement if there's a good bottle of Ridge Monte Bello on it as well.

I was originally thinking about French Laundry, but we've eaten at Per Se, and would like something different. We're staying in SoMa, but willing to travel, as you can tell.

Thinking Gary Danko?

-----
The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

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

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. Manresa, especially the dirt thing, Into the vegetable garden.
      "which includes the leaf, root, flower, and shoot of some 30 vegetables and herbs. It's served with "edible dirt" made from potato, parsnip, and roasted chicory root."

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

      1. re: wolfe

        Thanks, looks exactly like what we're interested in!

        1. re: loratliff

          Click on the small print thing for an excerpt of the wine list. As Victor Borge used to say "I love excerpts"
          http://www.sommelierjournal.com/artic...
          The name Monte Bello Ridge seems prominent in this excerpt.

    2. Manresa's amazing. Like TFL, it has its own garden. I recommend spending the night in Los Gatos.

      Coi's another only-in-the-Bay Area kind of place.

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

      Coi
      373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1 Reply
      1. Manresa's tasting menu is at the same scale as TFL. The only thing holding them back is consistency. Make a reservation around 5:30 or 6, and its a good idea to call ahead and say you want the chef's tasting menu. It is, absolutely, a blow-out meal, and a solid hour drive each way (longer the way down). If you do the wine pairings, I enjoy the standard pairings better than the "extra" pairings. If you don't stay down there, consider a hired car (price was no object, right?)

        If you stay in SF, consider Benu, The Dining Room at the Ritz (TDRATRC), COI, the tasting menu counter seats at Commis, Saison (and note the Chef's counter at Saison). Gary Danko doesn't even touch the quality of these places.

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

        Coi
        373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

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

        Commis
        3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

        Saison
        2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

        Benu
        22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        19 Replies
        1. re: bbulkow

          Thanks. We won't have a car so I was thinking a hired car as well, if we do Manresa. Staying down there is not preferable, as we have free accommodations in SF—the $$$ savings is the reason we can do such a great dinner! :)

          I only initially considered Gary Danko because of the generally favorable Yelp reviews, but we all know what a crapshoot they can be sometimes.

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

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

          1. re: loratliff

            Instead of the money on a car (and the commute time!) to Manresa, consider the chef's table at Saison; blew Manresa out of the water for me....

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

            Saison
            2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

            1. re: CarrieWas218

              Thanks, Saison does look really neat. Thank you all for these recs—these are the types of places I would have missed searching on my own—too distracted by the Hubert Kellers, Alice Waters, Thomas Kellers, of the SF restaurant world.

              What about Commonwealth? Does it even compare to any of the above?

              -----
              Saison
              2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

              1. re: loratliff

                No. even if i had liked my dinner there, it wouldn't have compared to places like the ones suggested above. I'm in the minority about Commonwealth (most people love it), but i still don't think it compares to places like Coi.

                1. re: loratliff

                  Manresa - yeah - who has ever heard of David Kinch? The chefs at Commis and COI (and ubuntu when it was good) all came from there, and he won effortlessly on Iron Chef. Just because he prefers to keep one restaurant instead of an expanding empire.

                  Just kidding. You're in good hands now, just stay out of Yelp, the place where Taco Bell gets 5 stars.

                  Also - for future reference, for fine dining, starting with the Michelin list is a good idea. It's on OpenTable, so you can easily check which restaruants both have stars and seats. Gary Danko has no stars.

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

                  Coi
                  373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  Commis
                  3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    I *did* look at the Michelin list, but I am an eternal skeptic of it, about the same as Yelp. It is not a cure-all, as there are many places that should have stars that barely get a nod and vice versa. At least in NY; I'm sure the same is true of San Francisco.

                    1. re: loratliff

                      Maybe it's not true in New York, but here Taco Bell gets 5 stars on yelp.
                      Michelin, not so much.

                        1. re: rotiprata

                          The taco bell at 7 Drumm St in SF has two 5-star votes and 5 4-star votes. That's just the first taco bell I found. There's a Taco Bell on mission street that is 3.5 stars, average. The Taco Bell in Pacifica has 4 stars. Of course, it's competing with a 4-star Carl's Jr in South San Francisco.

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            The overall rating for the Drumm St. Taco Bell, which is what people normally mean when they say "gets # stars on Yelp," is 2.5.

                            There actually is a Taco Bell in Flushing that has an overall rating of five stars.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Great. Two that are very close to my house are 4.5 stars aggregate (Veterans blvd Redwood City, and Bayshore East Palo Alto).
                              In comparison, my favorite current restaurant, Plum, has 3.5 stars.
                              I don't know how anyone can take seriously Yelp's ratings.

                            2. re: bbulkow

                              But the Taco Bell in Pacifica has been featured on the Travel Channel ;)

                        2. re: loratliff

                          yelp works if you only find the people who have similar palates as yourself, favorite them, and only check their reviews as opposed to the collective whole, where everything converges on 3-4 stars, esp. since taste is not an isolated rating, and type of restaurant/competition for the area is not factored in. michelin list is mainly perfect for established high-end french/italian/new american dining only. basically chow has a lot of like minded palates but you have to search to see if you agree with their other posts.
                          anyways, cyrus for nice upscale dining wasn't mentioned
                          i happen to be in the plum fan camp in terms of great creative tasty food. manresa with wine pairing would be a solid experience for someone who liked per se. if you're leaning towards an asian inspired tfl, then go for benu

                          1. re: ankimo

                            I use yelp to see if a restaurant is still open since their reviews are frequently more current than CH.. However I only check the dates.

                        3. re: bbulkow

                          Gary Danko still has a Michelin star; it was Chez Panisse that got dropped this year. (Meadowood got a bump to three stars, FWIW.)

                          To the OP - I find the Michelin guide far more informative than Yelp. It's not perfect, but when somebody's looking for a place that's upscale with a solid wine list with limited or no budgetary constraints - that is to say, in the context of this post - it's the second-best resource available and certainly a good starting place.

                          The best resource, of course, is the collective knowledge of the folks here, but the answers won't be so neat and simple. Except, perhaps for the consensus about Gary Danko.

                          San Francisco has some of the best dining options in the world. If I lived there I'd be more likely to travel for a meal, but as a (frequent) visitor I'm reluctant to spend hours in a car seeking out even better food options. COI, Acquerello, The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton, La Folie, heck, for a Hubert Keller fan, Fleur de Lys - they're all outstanding options that don't present logistical difficulties.

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

                          Chez Panisse
                          1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

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

                          Acquerello Restaurant
                          1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            "Manresa - yeah - who has ever heard of David Kinch? The chefs at Commis and COI (and ubuntu when it was good) all came from there"

                            Although some cooks from Manresa have cooked at Coi, Daniel Patterson is home grown.

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

                            Coi
                            373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                            Commis
                            3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                            1. re: Paul H

                              Daniel Patterson's chef at Plum, Charlie Parker, worked at Manresa.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                As did Daniel Patterson's pastry chef, Deannie Hickox (formerly Deannie Fox).

                              2. re: Paul H

                                My mistake, I forgot where I got that misconception. It was probably when he was embroiled with Fox (who was manressa) regarding Plum.

                    2. I would not recommend Gary Danko. It is good, but not memorable for me.

                      Manresa down on the Peninsula is excellent. La Folie is excellent Provencal cuisine. Coi is 11 courses, some hit bullseye, some a bit of a miss for me, but very creative.

                      In a lower price range, less "special occasion" setting, I have to say, I really love Ame.

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

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

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

                      1. the restaurant at meadowood got 3 michelin stars, so it must be great.
                        http://teenchefteddy.blogspot.com/

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tldmatrix

                          Certainly. But some of the recs here are more quintessentially San Francisco. Which, IMO, is more important than any star. BTW, Meadowood is a long drive from SF which, as others have said, is totally not necessary for a stellar meal.