HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Money no object meal in SF?? Help!

We will be visiting SF next week and are having a hard time selecting our "money no object" meal. Currently, have a reso at Benu-- a restaurant which seems to be a somewhat polarizing subject on this board. It seems most people either love it or hate it and given the price tag, I'm becoming a bit worried that we could end up among those that hate it. I keep reading "soulless" and that doesn't sound very appealing! We do like Asian cuisine and ingredients, but tend to not love meals that are all technique and no heart. So, I know this question is asked time and time again (though I haven't found any recent posts): What is THE meal to have in SF right now without budgetary restrictions? We are in our early 30s, so preferably nothing too stuffy.

We eat and enjoy just about everything and have several other reservations while we are in town. Our current itinerary is as follows:

Day one: We're going to start early evening and hit the bar at several restaurants that almost made the cut for a full dinner and have cocktails and a small plate or two at each. On the agenda and in no particular order: Prospect, Bar Agricole, The Alembic, Gitane, maybe Nopa and finish the night with a reservation at Bourbon and Branch

Day two:

Lunch: Ferry Plaza to pick up some eats for a picnic lunch in Mission Dolores Park if the weather permits and then walk around the Mission eventually making our way to Humphrey Slocombe.

Dinner: Have Benu reso... this is where we need help! Saison instead? Quince?

Day three:

Brunch at Canteen

Dinner: Commonwealth

Day four:

Brunch at Nopa

Dinner: Cotogna

Any thoughts for our blow out dinner? Suggestions and opinions will be much appreciated!

xo,
B

-----
Nopa
560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Gitane Restaurant & Bar
6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

Mission Dolores
3321 16th St, San Francisco, CA

Bar Agricole
355 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Saison
2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Benu
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Cotogna
490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Atelier Crenn. Many reviews and photos on this board.

    There are many discussions of Benu, Saison, Coi, etc.

    But the real question is where you can still get a reservation.

    -----
    Atelier Crenn
    3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

      1. re: wolfe

        Thank you! I had read that thread a couple of times and upon rereading it yet again, I am leaning towards Saison over Benu. If only uhockey's trip was before ours! His reviews are always incredibly helpful and have come in very handy in our other travels.

        1. re: TripleCreamB

          Why thank you.

          I'll just say that both chef's answer their own e-mails and I'm excited for both Benu and Saison. Lee blew me away at TFL and though I generally don't gravitate towards Asian food I am very curious in this case.

          With Saison I'm hoping Chef Skenes brings out some of the house-aged meats, but on the other hand I'm really interested in seeing how he and his team treat local produce.

          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

          Benu
          22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          1. re: uhockey

            I simply can't decide between the two. I'm up for doing both, but the husband is not-so-much on that idea. As much as we like Asian cuisine, I'm not sure that applies to our taste in fine dining, hence my slight lean towards Saison at the moment, but then I keep getting lured back to Benu based on Lee's pedigree and the general consensus that Benu's service is superior. Oh, decisions! I'm hoping to make a final call by this evening.

            And, thank you, too! Your DC recap from 2010 really helped me choose the location for my 30th birthday dinner last summer. Restaurant Eve Tasting Room (amazing!) won out over Vidalia 24, but only because we decided to do PX in the same night and stay over in Alexandria. Any plans to travel east and check out RJ Cooper's new venture? We plan to go as soon as our SF food coma subsides.

            1. re: TripleCreamB

              Cathal is an amazing Chef and what they are doing at Eve - raising their own everything and even roasing their own coffee beans in house - reminds me of "California cuisine" like you'd see at Manresa or TFL - I really need to get back to DC for Rogue but my life-schedule is insanely booked in the coming months.

              My dining in SF will be substantially tilted to the high end on this trip and I'll report back as I always do, but if I were FORCED to choose between Benu and Saison I'd probably pick Benu because of Lee - though I have it on good word that Saison will be the superior experience.

              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

              Saison
              2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

              Benu
              22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              1. re: uhockey

                One important point here is uhockey got the best service out of Lee at TFL by doing the extended tasting menu and contacting the chef - which he's also doing for these visits as well.

                If you're just going to make a rez and show up, you'll likely have a different experience. I was quite happy with Saison, and there were no service lapses.

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

                1. re: bbulkow

                  To be fair I never contacted the chef at TFL - I simply scheduled the extended tasting when I made the reservation and requested that if possible they do the Peas & Carrots dish.

                  Additionally, I never contacted Skenes or Lee - Chef Skenes reached out to me when he read the Coi/Benu/Saison/Crenn thread and Lee just so happens to answer the Benu e-mail which I wrote to in order to make sure pictures are allowable; I do this at every restaurant I go to out of courtesy and respect.

                  http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

      2. I've heard good things about La Folie - French - hope to try one day
        Atelier Crenn - my advice eat something before going there or you'll leave hungry. My review here:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/799025

        I'd suggest going to Sushi AKA Tombo - on my wish list:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/704406

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

        Atelier Crenn
        3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

        1 Reply
        1. re: hhc

          I love Sushi Aka Tombo, but it's not a fancy restaurant or expensive. Great if you're craving sushi though.

          La Folie is wonderful. But Crenn is unique.

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

          Sushi Aka Tombo
          1737 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

        2. Try to fit in Bi-Rite ice cream (salted caramel?) on 18th St near Dolores; I, personally, would skip HS.

          7 Replies
          1. re: walker

            And I would do the reverse... there are many people in both camps on this board... the only way to find out where you are is to try both.

            1. re: lrealml

              Luckily, I think we can definitely hit both! I only wish I could say the same about Benu & Saison! :)

              1. re: TripleCreamB

                This last friday, my family did a tasting between BiRite, HS, and MMM.

                The consensus was MMM, BiRite, then HS. They didn't have the "weird" flavors at HS and just aren't slanted that way. MMM won on the lavender candy ice cream, and was considered richer than BiRite - and a nicer atmosphere.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  Do you mean candied violet? Or is Mr and Mrs making lavender now too?

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      it is lavender colored.

                      One of these days I'll get there before they run out of pink squirrel.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Went to HS today and their flavors were as weird as ever and great! They had a flavor called Jesus Juice: red wine and cola sorbet; it was fantastic (one of the best flavors I've tried). They also had honey thyme (which was creamier than anything I've had at MMM), stout, and root beer... all a bit weird and all really great. I've never been when they haven't had something weird.

                    I've been to MMM and HS each twice this summer, and HS is still our favorite. We need to give bi-rite another try (maybe Wed).

            2. If uniqueness of SF is not a factor, hands down, La Folie. IMO it is the clear best restaurant in the city, BUT... it is Provencal French. You could walk into the best restaurant in Avignon or into one of the top in NYC and get very similar food. I do love the ambience there, but hate that there is one bathroom for 40 people.

              Coi is a good choice if you are looking for decidedly SF adventure. You won't love every course, but there are 11+ Really special and unique and it does have a soul, absolutely, but there is nothing about it that comes remotely close to comfort food.

              Those would be my top two choices, based upon what you are looking for.

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