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Gary Danko or ???

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Looking for a nice restaurant to celebrate my husband's birthday. We have 2 kids, ages 5 and 3. I wanted to take him to Gary Danko, have heard a lot about the place and wanted a special place for his birthday. But I am not sure how it will work out with the kids. Has anyone tried such restaurants with young children? If not Gary Danko, then any other suggestions? I am looking for a restaurant with similar price point/experience, SF or south bay/peninsula is fine. Don't want places which are more upscale/pricier that this. Any help would be great. Thanks.

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  1. I wouldn't recommend it, the Yelp on GD says it's not really a place for children. But it all depends on the child though, if you think your kids can handle it then by all means go for it. I recently graduated from culinary school ( and have my own catering business for families) and all we hear about Gary is that he is really hard to work with and people quit working for him all the time. I don't think he would have anything really kid friendly on the menu.

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      1. SF is one of those rare places in the country where you can get tremendously inspired food from top chefs in loud and casual environs. Why would you choose one of the few places in the city that is about having a more formal adult atmosphere as much as it is about the food? If the point is to treat your husband to an impressive meal (foodwise), go elsewhere. If it's about treating your husband to good atmosphere, the presence of kids is going to ruin that anyway, whether they're behaving or not.

        1. Thank you all for your responses. as you have all said, I kind of realized that GD would not work. So as I mentioned in my original post, I am looking for alternatives in similar league. Great food, combined with a decent atmosphere (if not great), but some place that you wouldn't go to everyday.

          9 Replies
          1. re: nk123

            I would assume that other upscale restaurants that are similar to GD would not be great fits for kids either. Have you considered getting a babysitter?

            1. re: nocharge

              I did think about it, but my usual sitter is not available and my younger one still has issues with new people, so I wanted that to be the last option. Wouldn't be too much fun anyway if there is trouble and we get a call from the sitter in the middle of the meal. If my usual sitter was available, then it would have been okay.

              1. re: nk123

                You may want to try a place like Plum or Chez Panisse Cafe (both in the East Bay). Where you can make reservations, but it's louder and a little more casual.

                Maybe Slanted Door or La Mar or Gitane in SF?

                Even with these recs, you are talking about completely adult environments - they will be the only kids in the whole restaurant. If you do choose a place like that, I would get the first reservation for dinner (e.g. 5:30) and be prepared to having to either cut your dinner short, or take a walk with the kids.

                1. re: goldangl95

                  I have seen children being very well treated at Chez Panisse Cafe. While not common, it certainly occurs.

                  1. re: goldangl95

                    my friends take their kids to Plum all the time and they love it.

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      aha! I had a feeling it would be a good suggestion but really had no idea since I tend to be a very late dinner eater.

                      1. re: goldangl95

                        When I went to Plum the service was so bad I couldn't help but laugh. We watched our food sit at the end of the bar for 5 minutes at room temp, while our server chatted it up with his buddy. Needless to say, it wasn't hot anymore. Not to mention they completely messed up our order, and then to "make it up to us" gave us a glass of wine, even though we weren't drinking.

                        1. re: plaidbowtie

                          Ick - that sounds awful. I, personally, haven't encountered such service issues, but I certainly wouldn't go back to Plum if I had.

                          1. re: plaidbowtie

                            I've always had pretty good service there, although there was a bit of a gap last time.

              2. a few years ago a couple with two young children were seated next to us at coi -- it all depends on the child. they did the tasting menu, but asked to be served two courses at once, so as not to try their children's patience.

                in tokyo a couple months ago, a family brought their child to a very fancy tempura restaurant i visited. his mother ate a piece of one of the things he liked, so he had a fit and had to be taken out for a while.

                you might ask gary danko if they have a private room. if it is a monday or tuesday, they might give it to a couple with children. if you like japanese food, you could also try kappa. they have a back room -- though i think it only seats 3.