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1st and only visit to SF, looking to narrow down restaurant list

b
bparker Mar 28, 2011 02:07 PM

Foodie from Georgia (yes we do exist) that is coming to SF to see the Braves play the Giants and looking for a couple great restaurants to complete the experience. Typically like a more modern, smaller portion, unique and creative cuisine. Looking at this list: Flour and Water, Coi, Manresa, Quince, RN74, Frances, Benu, and Prospect/Boulevard. I know thats a lot of choices but thats why i need the help because I am not sure when I will ever get back out that way. Thanks so much!

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Manresa Restaurant
320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

RN74
301 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

Flour + Water
2401 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Benu
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. s
    sfbing Mar 29, 2011 01:07 AM

    I think the ones that best fit your requirements for modern, unique, and creative are Coi, Manresa, and Benu. Coi is my personal favorite, but is very light with lots of veggies and little meat, and has its detractors on this board. Manresa is very good, but a bit of a drive and there is nothing much there aside from Manresa. Benu has some Eastern influence in its tasting menu and a more traditional luxe French spin to its ala carte menu. I liked it, but I did think "ouch" when I saw the bill. Another one not on your list is Saison. Check their sample menus and see which one interests you most.

    If it were me I would probably go with Manresa and Plum (in Oakland as the budget Coi). However, as I just went on a baseball road trip, I found that a couple of days of driving all over the place in search of fine dining after spending a couple of hours at a ballgame was a pain in the ass. YMMV

    I wouldn't go to all tasting menus on your trip. Consider mixing in more casual cheaper places which do unique food, which I think is a big strength of SF dining. Flour and Water, Quince, RN74, Frances, and Prospect all sort of fall into this category, although I feel that they are kind of similar in that expensive/trendy/American-Italian way. Instead of shortening your list, here are a couple of others to think about: Aziza (Cal-Moroccan), Slanted Door (Cal-Vietnamese), Zuni (grand dame of SF local food scene), Barbacco (Italian), Incanto (Cal-Italian with an offal slant), Commonwealth (uneven, but very original), Cotogna (Quince's little sister)....

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    Slanted Door
    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Zuni Cafe
    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Manresa Restaurant
    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

    RN74
    301 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

    Flour + Water
    2401 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Saison
    2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

    Barbacco
    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Benu
    22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    Cotogna
    490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

    5 Replies
    1. re: sfbing
      b
      bparker Mar 29, 2011 07:15 AM

      Thank you so much for your help with this. It is incredibly overwhelming to try and pick a place in a city full of amazing food. I didnt see Saison but i actually think that looks like my favorite as far as a tasting menu goes. We are only going to do that one night and i agree, dont want to drive all over the place when there are so many places close to downtown.

      I think Slanted Door looks like an amazing setting and very diverse menu so i may go that route. I have seen Incanto and am at least planning on going by his Boccalone in the Ferry building. Barbacco and Cotogna both look very promising, will prob try to decide between one of those two. I truly appreciate your efforts with this response-will definitely help with the decisions.

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      Slanted Door
      Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

      Boccalone Factory - Not Open to Public
      1924 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

      Saison
      2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

      Barbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      Cotogna
      490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1. re: bparker
        s
        sfbing Mar 29, 2011 08:47 AM

        No problem--I feel kinship after wandering through the suburbs of Phoenix with heatstroke looking for food.

        A very good day would be to browse the farmers market at the Ferry Building on Saturday and then walk down along the Embarcadero to the ballpark. I usually graze at the market, but you could also brunch at Yank Sing, Cane Rosso, or Slanted Door.

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        Slanted Door
        Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

        Yank Sing
        49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

        1. re: sfbing
          b
          bparker Mar 29, 2011 09:07 AM

          That does sound good. We are actually going to the day game Sunday but for sure planning on going to the market saturday and grazing spots like boccalone, acme bread, and cowgirl creamery that seem like must try spots. I am looking forward to it, thanks!

      2. re: sfbing
        Ruth Lafler Mar 29, 2011 09:40 AM

        I'll echo that I don't think you should do all tasting menus. Did you say how long you were going to be here?

        I'll throw the new Atelier Crenn into the mix as definitely more modern, unique and creative tasting menu-type place. Prospect is generally a little more modern than older sister Boulevard. I think since your time is limited, that not trekking all over is probably wise. You can eat very well without going more than a mile from the ballpark or your hotel. However, if you want to check out Plum (probably the restaurant that most embodies the current state of the Bay Area dining scene), it's just a quick BART ride to 19th Street Oakland and a short walk.

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        Atelier Crenn
        3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

        1. re: Ruth Lafler
          b
          bparker Mar 29, 2011 10:31 AM

          Atelier Crenn looks amazing. So many choices! Although being an Iron Chef fan, her victory does score some points. May take the lead on the tasting menu battle....

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          Atelier Crenn
          3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

      3. c
        ciao.izzy Mar 29, 2011 09:21 AM

        If you will be at the Market on Saturday, definitely worth a try is the amazing Belgian waffle at Blue Bottle Coffee (NB: not avail Sundays, only Mon-Sat). It's a "real" Belgian waffle like what you would get from a food truck in Brussels, with the carmelized exterior - but better since it's lighter and not as doughy, so not like a "Belgian waffle" that you would get at a breakfast place.

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        Blue Bottle Cafe
        66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        3 Replies
        1. re: ciao.izzy
          b
          bparker Mar 29, 2011 09:28 AM

          Very good to know. I will certainly add Blue Bottle to my grazing list and make sure to go hungry! Thanks so much for the tip.

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          Blue Bottle Cafe
          66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          1. re: ciao.izzy
            l
            lrealml Mar 29, 2011 11:27 AM

            Really! They have liege waffles at blue bottle? Why did I not know about this...
            I wonder if they also have some elusive Belgium pearl sugar... I would love to buy some.

            1. re: lrealml
              grayelf Mar 30, 2011 12:32 PM

              I don't recall the waffle I had at BB having any crystallized sugar bits inside it but it was delicious. (Almost) worth lining up for ;-).

          2. m
            mrs bacon Mar 29, 2011 09:56 AM

            Commonwealth might be on that list as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mrs bacon
              b
              bparker Mar 29, 2011 10:32 AM

              I do like Commonwealth's menu, very unique menu. Thanks for the input.

            2. Paul H Mar 29, 2011 11:20 AM

              "Typically like a more modern, smaller portion, unique and creative cuisine."

              Flour and Water: doesn't meet any of your requirements. Really an excellent neighborhood place.

              Coi: Meets all of your requirements

              Manresa: A little less unique and creative than Coi, and an hour drive each way, but otherwise right up your alley.

              Quince: Excellent, but not a small portion place, and more traditional than creative.

              RN74: Small portions, check. But that's it. And though you'd think the wine list would be full of unique bargains - it isn't.

              Frances: Doesn't really meet any of your criteria; another good neighborhood place.

              Benu: Mostly meets all of your criteria, but less creative than Coi or Manresa, and you need to be open to Korean/Chinese ingredients plus French technique as a theme. It wouldn't be my choice from your list, but it's a solid choice.

              Prospect/Boulevard: Good, but not smaller portions, unique or creative.

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

              RN74
              301 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

              Flour + Water
              2401 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

              Benu
              22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              3 Replies
              1. re: Paul H
                b
                bparker Mar 29, 2011 11:24 AM

                Paul thank you for your breakdown. I am glad my list has been looked at because it wouldve been a shot in the dark. It looks like i am leaning towards Atelier Crenn or Saison. These two seem to be better received and a better value (which is of course all relative)

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                Saison
                2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

                Atelier Crenn
                3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                1. re: bparker
                  Paul H Mar 29, 2011 11:26 AM

                  I haven't been to Saison since they got religion and became a real restaurant, so I can't comment. I've had the tasting menu at Atelier Crenn and enjoyed it, though it isn't yet in the same league as Coi or Manresa. Have fun! And remember to report on your impressions.

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                  Manresa Restaurant
                  320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                  Saison
                  2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

                  Atelier Crenn
                  3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                  1. re: Paul H
                    b
                    bparker Mar 29, 2011 11:43 AM

                    I agree Coi looks very impressive, although I have 4 people so the extra 50 bucks for their tasting and another 50 for their wine pairings compared to Crenn certainly adds up, although we are talking about a one time trip so no holding back! i will definitely let everyone know how it goes, thanks!

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