San Fran Wed and Thurs in May - Need expert foodie & bar help.
- troublebunny Feb 22, 2012 03:05 PM
I've been to the lovely SF in the past and did Slanted door and Foreign Cinema and Bar Tartine & the st. regis lobby bar .and some pizza joint .. I liked bar tartine's food the best. This time, not sure where to go, but not touristy & tacky PLEASE! I need a real expert of both food and design. Some worldwide faves include Scarpetta in NYC, Morimoto NYC, Top of the standard nyc for bar, Joe Beef Montreal, Les 400 Coups Montreal, Baldwin Barmacie Montreal, NAOE sushi in Miami, Frank in Toronto Canada, Origin in Toronto, and intimate retro or funky spots. The design is important - not into the french provincial look... Love rustic / edgy / industrial / kitchy / minimal / good use of light and materials is always always appreciated. Any neighbourhood gems?
Some other notes:
- We are in our 30's (one is 39 + 2).
- one of us is a minimalist architect and this is a big factor - ambience is important to us - sometimes over food actually.
- wondering about napa's morimoto - loved NYC morimoto, so this may be the frontrunner right now.
- wondering about the following: Bar Agricole / Canteen / Flour + Water / Local Mission / Moonraker (is it bad ?- tell me!) / Naked Fish / Morimoto / RN74 / Waterbar for drinks & oysters & view for someone who hasn't been to SF.
Really need some good suggestions. Love all kinds of food (honestly - all kinds), and aren't into the uber snooty spots where your avg venture capitalist type goes *at all* :)
THANK YOU San Francisco! Toronto loves you!!!
re: Robert Lauriston
I agree, Bar Agricole is a don't miss for you. Some other places that come to mind for a noticeable interior: Nihon (drinks/happy hour), Redwood Room (drinks), Ippuku (Berkeley, interior by master temple builder, great food, right off BART). Morimoto Napa does have an interesting interior and food to match. I would do Piccino (Eames chairs) over Flour & Water. Sightglass and Blue Bottle Mint Plaza for coffee.
Here is a recent post about Morimoto in Napa:
As to the Moonraker, newly re-opened in Pacifica, it's not bad. But it is probably not worth a special trip either. The new interior is a vast improvement over what was there before, but probably wouldn't impress a designer. The food is quite pricey for what it is and reviews have been mixed about the quality of the dishes. If you are planning on driving down the coast, La Costanera is about 10 miles farther south and a much better bet. However, this time of year, it gets dark so early that you really don't get the full impact of the ocean views at dinner.
I would skip RN74 - the interior is typically swanky and high energy, not particularly stand out swanky. Food is fine, wine is fine (French centric), but definitely wouldn't go as a visitor. Unless it was for a quick drink or only convenient option.
I really like Flour + Water - I think their pastas are amazing and everything else is very very good. Guests are always happy when we take them there. It is, however, not particularly interesting from a design perspective - though they do feature local artists. Absolutely need reservations, or need to be happy cooling your heels for an hour or two at the bars two blocks away.
Not SF, but easy to access in Oakland. Chop Bar, reclaimed, recycled materials providing a great, rustic ambience. Great service, comfortable and knowledgeable. Excellent specialty drinks (my fave, the Spicy Q) and wines on tap. We're in our young 50's and love the mix of this place, and the staff accomodates everyone!. Best of Oakland in our book!
I have to humbly disagree. I did not find the food at Chop Bar rising above the average New American restaurant in the Bay Area, nor did I find the decor particularly exciting. Granted, I did not realize it was recycled materials at the time. Maybe with that knowledge, the decor would have made more of an impact.
If in Oakland, might be worth a stop, but I wouldn't advise making a special trip to seek it out.
Another thought. I saw you said bar help. Have you considered Bourbon & Branch or, next door, Wilson & Wilson? You need reservations so it may be hard to fit in but they take their atmosphere and drinks very seriously.
Rickhouse is also interesting and doesn't need reservations - excellent drinks and cool atmosphere (outside and inside is wooden panels). Downside is it is rather rowdy and crowded on the typical busy nights/times.
I wonder if Saison is out of the question. It's somewhat more about setting than internal architecture, but I love how relaxed the space is - compared to the food. Saison is on anyone's current top ten, as well.
Food in SF: Locanda, Italian; La Ciccia, Sardinian; Dosa, South Indian (great design space); Nopa, Cal/American; Limon, Peruvian; Coi, one exceptional menu a night; Benu, owner is former alumni of French Laundry, serene space. Bar Agricole though the design is good, food is flat. Kokkari, Greek; Seven Hills, Italian/Cal; Atelier Crenn, one exceptional menu a night, Saison, ditto, Kappou Gomi, Japanese (no sushi)
Sausalito, Sushi Ran; Michelin starred; Poggio, Italian
Sonoma: Willie's Wine Bar, good food
Napa: Redd in Yountville
I would check out AQ for a good mix of decor and food, it's a converted factory.
I went to morimoto napa a couple of weeks ago. We did the tasting menu and I really liked it. I liked all the dishes and some were outstanding. I've been to morimoto NYC too and found the service was better in NYC. I will say the decor is rather cold and I found it lacking but if you like concrete this has plenty. People were dressed far more causal than I would expect.
Bar agricole is a really good example of the current trend in restaurant design in the bay area. I haven't found the food to be that amazing but many people really like and the drink are stellar.
Canteen has good food but the decor probably wouldn't do it for you.
Flour + Water I think is overrated but people love it, the decor is pretty meh.
Waterbar is good if you are just getting drink and oyster and the view is excellent at the right tables.
The most common trends in restaurant design here is the wood on the walls, edison bulbs in the lights, faux vintage.
Lime in the castro may interested you if you are into MCM space age looks as it's all white with walls washed by changing LED lights. The food is small plates shared and boozy drinks. Not the most exceptional food but excellent for chilling and chatting in a space age decor.
benu has excellent food but to me it felt like a office space although someone who like minimalism might like it.
AQ's design has some unusual features, particularly the removable bar tops they change with the seasons. Great food and one of the best wine lists in the city.
If it was ever a factory, that was a long time ago, prior to AQ had been a Salvation Army thrift store, a deli, and a dot-com office, though I htink they stripped it down to the walls.