HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Safer bet for treating someone to their 1st high end meal: Benu, Danko, or Quince?

Hey folks, I'm going to be taking my cousin out to a nice meal for her graduation from Berkeley, just the two of us, or maybe her roommates too. As college kids, they've never had a fine dining meal; in fact, their palates are relatively staid. The meal needs to be on a Monday or Tuesday night and the girls are pescaterians for the most part. I'd like for them to have an "experience" meal, one that they'll remember for a long time -- I'm well dined, but I've never been to Danko, Benu or Quince and think any would be good options (or Aziza if I decide to keep it low key.) Which do you recommend? Danko, while well-regarded is a little bit less "interesting" for me, but I think it'd be a great experience for the girls, esp. since it'll be their first tasting menu meal (not too mention their cheese cart.) Quince is right up my alley and I had a good friend who used to work there before they moved locations, and of course, I'd love to get an opportunity to try out Corey Lee's food at Benu. If I were making the decision just for me, it would be Benu-Quince-Danko, but I think in this situation it'll be Danko-Quince-Benu... thoughts?

-----
Benu
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. in terms of something for everyone, danko definitely has the most menu options/combinations/possibilites...

    1. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

      interesting interview with gary danko that definitely explains why his restaurant is so popular, but also why it has its detractors here and why people feel it's not a uniquely SF experience

      1 Reply
      1. re: vulber

        I don't think any of that is relevant to someone having their first fancy restaurant meal. Or maybe it is relevant, but on the plus side.

        Makes me want to go to Zarzuela.

      2. For whatever it is worth, I didn't think that Benu was that weird or off putting food wise. It has a very strong French Laundry influence and a pretty classical tasting menu. No cheese cart. If someone had paid for me to go, I would've been delighted.

        Other possibilities that might be less intimidating are Saison, Commis, and Manresa.

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

        The French Laundry
        6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

        Commis
        3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

        Saison
        2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

        Benu
        22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. My cousin who is very unadventurous just ate at Gary Danko for the first time and loved it. They're going to Frances next.

          French- and Italian-influenced are always pretty safe fancy meals.

          The only thing is all the options here feel a little staid for a 21 year old.

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

          1. I think for college graduates and for the celebration feel , seems like Benu would seem more special. Something about walking through and seeing the chefs in the kitchen and then the garden before entering just makes it seem more like an experience. I can see the girls taking photos outside in the kitchen. I kind of feel Danko would seem bit touristy because of location near the Wharf.

            Quince is also good for celebration because the service is very friendly, but I haven't tried the tasting menu there so not sure how it'll go. The tasting menu at Benu is what you'd expect from French Laundry, though less "freebies" in my mind.

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

            Benu
            22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            2 Replies
            1. re: singleguychef

              There's a garden at Benu? Where? And a view into the kitchen?

              -----
              Benu
              22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                It's not a vegetable garden. It's a zen garden with the mini Japanese trees and benches in the front before you walk in. It's nice and open where they could take pictures. And before you walk to the garden you can look into the kitchen. You can also see the kitchen from the street, too.