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Romantic Restaurant - Help Please

My boyfriend and I will be visiting San Francisco next week. We've never been there together - only separately, and it's been a long time for both of us since we've visited. We are staying in the Union Square area. Every time we visit a new city, I like to surprise him with a romantic date night, so that's what I need your assistance with.

We are both foodies (apologize for the term - hate it, but there's no other way to describe it). As far as type of food, we'll eat anything, but we do love food with French influences. We love a well-made cocktail and wine as well. We are on the long-shot of a waiting list at the French Laundry as well as Gary Danko. And even if we did get in either one of those, the night I am planning I want the restaurant to be something intimate and romantic. Not fancy, but I want the food to be outstanding. I would love a place where we can sit next to each other, maybe a cozy banquette, and don't feel like we are shouting across a table. Low lighting and great music is always nice. Someplace with a good vibe, good ambience but most definitely romantic.

In my initial research on Chowhound I read that Gitane was a good choice and to request a specific table by number? (The post I read said to request table number 3.) Does Gitane sound like the kind of place I'm after? (And if so, is table number 3 the one?) Any other suggestions?

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

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

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  1. Take a look at Cafe Jacqueline.

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    Cafe Jacqueline
    1454 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

    1. Gitane is certainly romantic. Truth be told, I've never eaten upstairs (only at the bar) but the vibe of the whole place is totally sexy. I'm probably a bad judge because I don't like the over-the-top expensive and dramatic places, but the best dates I've had in the city are mid-range, and much more casual than somewhere like Gary Danko: A corner table at Delfina, the bar at Range, the corner bar seats in the window at Zuni Cafe. I had a fantastic meal at Saison last year and could see that being a superb place for a romantic date.

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      Zuni Cafe
      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Delfina Restaurant
      3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

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

      Saison
      2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

      1. La Folie and Acquerello could also qualify and may be closer in cuisine to your original two choices.

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

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

        2 Replies
        1. re: Scott M

          Third on La Folie and Acquerello.

          Not Cafe Jacqueline unless you want two of three courses to be soufflés.

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

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

          Cafe Jacqueline
          1454 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Fourth on Acquerello. An excellent restaurant, with tables far enough apart that you will have some privacy, and hospitality second to none.

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

        2. Gitane does fit the ambiance you desire. If you make a reservation there, request a table with side by side seating--there is definitely at least one but I don't know the table number. I do second either La Folie or Acquerello for both the food and the ambiance.

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

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

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

          1. Thanks everyone! I can't wait to research all of these places. I had actually zeroed in on Acquerello as well - for the food - but now I'm anxious to take a look at it for the ambience as well. Fig Newton, I like the way that you described Gitane as sexy. Maybe that's the vibe I'm looking for as opposed to romantic.

            One more question - would any of these places be appropriate for just after dinner cocktails/dessert?

            Actually two more questions - I keep reading about Foreign Cinema? Your thoughts?

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            Foreign Cinema
            2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

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

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

            3 Replies
            1. re: becca31

              I like FC but if you're inside, it's not romantic at all - very, very noisy. outside is more romantic - if it's nice out, you're under the night sky - but there are still tables a bit too close to you. Fun for brunch, tho.

              1. re: becca31

                Gitane would be appropriate for after dinner cocktails--at their bar. La Folie has a bar/lounge right next door and that would also work. I don't think Acquerello would work.

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

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

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

                1. re: becca31

                  Last week I recommended Foreign Cinema as a romantic spot to a couple and they enjoyed it quite a bit. I've found the food to be a good representation of California cuisine, good quality but nothing overly fancy, and chill. The lighting isn't especially dark, and if you get a reservation at the right time and the right seats, there's a movie projected on the wall. Most people let the movie provide ambiance, but each table has drive-in-movie speakers, so you can optionally listen to the movie.

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                  Foreign Cinema
                  2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

                2. I ended up booking Gitane. The reservationist said the specific table I am looking for is the corner table, and it is available, so I'm pleased. We have an 8 pm reservation, and I would like to go somewhere equally romantic/sexy for a pre-dinner cocktail that is a different bar or restaurant. Any suggestions that are relatively close by to Gitane? (Or even if not close by but can't be missed, that's fine too.)

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

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: becca31

                    Friends and I have a joke about "sexy date emergencies" and the one-two punch for those is Gitane and Bix, which is on an alley and dark and clubby, and walking distance to Gitane. Not quite as romantic/sexy but a great SF bar is Comstock Saloon. Across the street from Gitane is Rickhouse, which has excellent drinks, but the after-work crowd there drives me crazy.

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                    Bix
                    56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

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

                    Rickhouse Bar
                    246 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA

                    Comstock Saloon
                    155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    1. re: Fig Newton

                      ugh, agree on the crowd at Rickhouse. stay away, pee-u.

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                      Rickhouse Bar
                      246 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA

                    2. re: becca31

                      25 Lusk is the sexiest place to get a cocktail or aperitif right now IMHO. Go downstairs to the lounge area - superstylish decor, perfect low lighting, beautiful elegant people, very good drinks and a good by-the-glass wine list. There are several different seating areas to choose from downstairs so you can pick what suits your mood - on one of the low banquettes by the suspended fireplaces, in a cosy corner, perched on a stool at the bar, etc.

                      I don't go there for dinner because I find that for the money I can get a better meal elsewhere, but for setting a date night off on the right tone it's hard to beat.

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                      Twenty Five Lusk
                      25 Lusk, San Francisco, CA

                    3. I am replying without reading the other replies first, so this is fresh. If money is not an issue and you can get in, I would *STRONGLY* recommend La Folie based upon your parameters. My second choice for you might actually be La Ciccia -- it is very "family" oriented, if you find that romantic.

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                      La Ciccia
                      291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

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

                      1. We just got back from San Francisco, and I wanted to give everyone an update. We went to Gitane for our date. We had drinks at Rickhouse before - only because it was so close and made sense logistically.

                        Rickhouse was decent - dark and crowded and I didn't really care for the decor, but I forgave all of that because the drinks were so well made.

                        Gitane was gorgeous inside. A very sexy space. The service was excellent. Where we sat was a half-moon shaped banquette for two which allowed us to sit side-by-side, though we were sitting very close to the other diners, so it didn't really feel very intimate. The food was solid but did not blow my mind.

                        The night before we went to La Folie. Now THAT place blew my mind. We ate in the lounge next door as opposed to the restaurant. I felt like I was sitting inside a jewel box. The decor was beautiful, sexy and intimate. We sat on a white leather banquette. Many of the patrons were French, and between that and the atmosphere and the food, I felt like I was in Paris. Service was spot on. We were able to eat off the bar menu as well as a la carte off the restaurant menu. Cocktails were well made.

                        The first night we ate at Michael Mina, and while the restaurant feels a little too stuffy to me, the food was excellent, and I ate foie gras and drank Sauternes until I felt like I was going to explode. (That's a good thing.)

                        All in all, I was so pleased with our dining experiences - thanks for all the suggestions!

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

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

                        Rickhouse Bar
                        246 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA