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High End Solo Dining

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dgilks May 23, 2011 07:49 PM

I'll be in SF for three days in July and am looking for an option for a good high end dinner on one night. I'm travelling by myself so a restaurant that caters well to solo diners would be nice. I also like the idea of a tasting menu for the "big meal". I like my food to be fun, occasionally challenging and for it to be something a bit differnet.

Options I have been considering are Coi and Benu but I'd love your recommendations.

For another meal, I am considering Commonwealth and Incanto. I'd also love your recommendations for other meals that may be less pricey but equally suited to a solo diner.

Cheers!

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Benu
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. Windy RE: dgilks May 23, 2011 08:16 PM

    If you look at the bottom of this page, you'll see many recent similar threads.

    San Francisco is an easy place to eat by yourself. Many restaurants have comfortable bars with a view of the kitchen. Both Commonwealth and Incanto fall into this category.

    I'm not sure what's up with Coi and what used to be the bar space. I wouldn't eat in their main dining room for 10 courses by myself personally; the atmosphere definitely felt like couples out for an anniversary dinner.

    Don't limit yourself to high end though. It's really not San Francisco's strength compared to all the great mid-range spots. Go sit at the bar at Yamo ($6 Burmese entrees) or for sushi (Sushi AKA Tombo, many other places).

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    Yamo
    3406 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    1. l
      Leely2 RE: dgilks May 23, 2011 08:40 PM

      Well, I realize that I am in the minority here, but when I am dining solo, I like a table. I don't really have a problem just relaxing, paying attention to the food, thinking, daydreaming, enjoying. It's something I don't often get the chance to do, so when I do I tend to savor it. And I like a tasting menu, a wine pairing, the whole nine yards. I've not been to Benu but I have been to Coi, and it's a place I'd feel perfectly comfortable going to alone. It's a calm environment, which I enjoy, but I'm not sure the food is fun. The food is fun at Atelier Crenn, though.

      Incanto is good, and the bar is nice but a table would be fine there too if you prefer.

      Have a great trip!

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      Benu
      22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Atelier Crenn
      3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

      1. s
        sfwork RE: dgilks May 23, 2011 09:31 PM

        I think Coi's food is very good, but I also don't think I'd dine there alone. (I like to people watch if I'm eating alone at a table.) How about these very nice but not-quite-high-end places: La Mar (Peruvian seafoods) or Absinthe (French). I also had a very good meal at Bourbon Steak recently (great cocktails too).

        1. b
          baloney RE: dgilks May 23, 2011 09:45 PM

          I love fine dining solo but I agree with Windy that high end, though not lacking, is not SF's greatest strength. I did love love love my dinner at La Folie though, so if you're into French and a tasting menu, you probably can't go wrong there.

          I will be dining at Atelier Crenn solo when I come up in two weeks for the weekend, will report back and let you all know how it was!

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

          Atelier Crenn
          3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

          1 Reply
          1. re: baloney
            Windy RE: baloney May 23, 2011 09:54 PM

            La Folie now has a lounge next door. I've only been to the restaurant, but the lounge is designed to be more casual.

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

          2. Robert Lauriston RE: dgilks May 24, 2011 08:15 AM

            http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

            1. h
              hannah RE: dgilks May 24, 2011 02:06 PM

              Spruce and Quince come to mind for high end solo dining.

              1. singleguychef RE: dgilks May 27, 2011 10:23 PM

                I dined at Coi alone and I agree with others that there are so many people going for celebratory dinners, I did feel more self-conscious although the service is excellent. I actually would go to Commonwealth because they have a bar counter facing the open kitchen that would be fun, and they have a tasting menu but you don't have to dress up if you don't feel like carrying fancy clothes while traveling. Benu might be another option. They don't have a bar, but I feel it might be more conducive to single dining at the table because the space between tables are sufficient enough for you to feel isolated from the other guests.

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                Benu
                22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                5 Replies
                1. re: singleguychef
                  Robert Lauriston RE: singleguychef May 29, 2011 01:04 PM

                  Coi's bar went away in the remodeling, right?

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    singleguychef RE: Robert Lauriston May 31, 2011 09:55 AM

                    Yeah, that's what I heard but haven't been since they remodeled.

                  2. re: singleguychef
                    m
                    mhuang RE: singleguychef May 31, 2011 12:39 PM

                    When I went to Benu alone last month they sat me in one of their corners on the side. I wouldn't say that it was isolated from other guests, as I could hear the conversations of the patrons at the tables all around me quite clearly. Part of this is just the open space nature of Benu, but also the quiet atmosphere of Benu.

                    AT&T iPhone reception is garbage in Benu, so there wasn't a whole lot to distract me in between courses other than the other patrons and their tables.

                    I love Atellier Crenn for the overall experience and the artistic food. If the OP only has one night, I'd recommend Atellier Crenn over Benu.

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                    Benu
                    22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                    1. re: mhuang
                      singleguychef RE: mhuang May 31, 2011 03:29 PM

                      Hmm, that does sound bad. And the lighting isn't great to bring a magazine or book.

                      1. re: singleguychef
                        m
                        mhuang RE: singleguychef May 31, 2011 04:01 PM

                        Actually, the lighting in Benu is actually quite nice, and suitable for magazines or books, but these are not the sort of things that I would bring into that caliber of restaurant.

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                        Benu
                        22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  3. w
                    weshoke RE: dgilks May 30, 2011 11:19 PM

                    Like some others have said, SF's high end isn't its strength, but it's definitely getting there. The only place I've been to here that actually hits every note just right consistently is Atelier Crenn. It is actually quite a mind-blowing experience.

                    Some people complain that it doesn't fill you up, but I think that misses the point. First, get the full tasting menu (with wine pairings if it fits your budget). Second, just let your senses take over without preconceptions. I've been there four times so far and only two of the dishes were not superb. The menu changes frequently based on seasonal ingredients.

                    The highlights are the courses done by the pastry chef. His work fits right in with chef Crenn's hyperrealistic style. I would even call some of his work psychedelic (particularly the red mushroom capped desert).

                    Ok, I'm rambling here, but it's the closest any restaurant I've been to has gotten to the experience (in terms of philosophy, presentation, and approach) you get at Noma in Copenhagen and this one's in SF!!

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                    Atelier Crenn
                    3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                    1. k
                      Keesey RE: dgilks Jun 1, 2011 12:38 PM

                      Frances has a very intimate dining area that would be fine for a solo diner. They also have a bar area mainly reserved for walk-ins, which would be a be a great spot to view out the window or toward the kitchen. Exceptional food and service! Their bacon beignets are worth the trip.

                      I would love to recommend Benu if you're looking for fun and challenging food, but like others have mentioned it's not entirely ideal for solo dining. But it depends on how comfortable you'd feel. It can feel really quiet... lots of people on dates. And larger groups seem to speak in more hushed tones. The starters come out one after the other but the entrees can take about 15 minutes to be served... soooo you'll be staring at your beverage for a good while.

                      But their dishes are really inventive. "Shark's Fin" soup blew my mind! The shark's fin really felt like shar's fin!

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                      Benu
                      22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                      1. n
                        Nopa RE: dgilks Jun 1, 2011 01:10 PM

                        Nopa on Divisadero is great for solo dinning. You can sit at the counter and watch the cooks or sit at a communal table. There's so much energy there, that you'll have fun by yourself.

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                        Nopa
                        560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Nopa
                          Paul H RE: Nopa Jun 1, 2011 02:29 PM

                          Both Nopa and Frances are good for solo dining, but neither is "High End"

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                          Nopa
                          560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

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