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AQ, Commonwealth or Foriegn Cinema for birthday dinner

Just moved to the East Bay and want to head to SF for a dinner with hubby for my birthday. . After some research I am leaning towards AQ, Commonwealth or Foriegn Cinema. Looking for great food we can share, great cocktails and fun atmosphere Any thoughts on which one and favorite dishes? Thanks!

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  1. I believe Commonwealth doesn't have a full bar, so cocktails would be out on that one. Also, the vibe at Commonwealth is very SF - but more reflective and conversational than "fun."

    AQ probably fits the bill. They have cocktails, and it's a louder more vibrant place. Food is creative and ambitious, service can be a little distracted.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      The cocktail I had at AQ was the best of the new-breed cocktails I've had. By a lot.

      1. re: goldangl95

        Fifth on AQ. Much more consistent than F.C., just much more gratifying in every way, especially flavor-wise, than Commonwealth. Also, the food is refined and complex sans most frou-frou, so you get a lot more for your money (unless you like f-f, which I very occasionally do) And nice drinks.

      2. Will it just be the two of you or a group. For a group Foreign Cinema is great and food is always good for groups of more than 8 at AQ you have to do a special reservation. Commonwealth is a higher price point and I find the service and food to be inconsistent and underwhelming. AQ would my personal choice hands down as it's has a comfortable relaxed but classy atmosphere but very creative food. The dessert at AQ is the best.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tjinsf

          Fourth on AQ. One of my favorite new restaurants of recent years.

        2. Thank you for your thoughts. Def want cocktails so thx for the heads up on commonwealth. Sounds like AQ is the place. Will report back.

          2 Replies
          1. re: CarlieInLA

            Commonwealth has a bar. Depending on the seat at the bar, you can watch the chefs in action The atmosphere is what you make of it. I saw a birthday party there during my dinner.

            1. re: chezwhitey

              Just to clarify Commonwealth has bar/counter seating, but it only serves beer and wine and has only a beer and wine permit.

          2. The A.Q. summer menu and decor is fresh as a summer breeze; greenery, capiz shell lamps, seashells; my birthday celebration was a delight, beginning with a White Manhattan, and pours of Rioja and François Chidaine Les Bournais Montlouis Loire France for the Potato Gnocchi with broccoli rabe and yogurt foam; Honeycomb Tripe with plum consomme; Apricot with speck and tuna; Fried Green Tomato and okra stew with crispy lentils; Striped Bass with smoked egg yolk, heirloom peppers and chorizo; Roasted Milk Chocolate Pave with blackberries and De La Paz coffee. We enjoyed the Spring Menu in June but this Summer Menu is even better.
            Lorena's service was well paced, attentive, friendly, and professional throughout dinner last night. This is a fine-tuned staff, working well as a team in perfect harmony.
            http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com/20...
            http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2012...
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/858766
            http://aq-sf.com/drink.html
            http://aq-sf.com/index.html

            1. After much back and forth and changing our mind several times we decided on Commonwealth (I know no cocktails!) but I am so glad we did. Sat at the bar, which I think made the experience even better since we could see into the kitchen and the chef came over several times.

              Had geoduck dish that was amazing with cucumber and spice. Also had an amazing scallop dish. It was one very large, perfectly seared scallop, with a popcorn foam and delicious sauce. Probably the best scallop I ever ate. Had a great pork belly which was tender and perfectly seared. Wine pairings were spot on. For dessert we had the peanut butter chocolate tart and it was amazing. The waitress was attentive and really helpful, knew her food. I would go back in a second and highly recommend. Thanks!