i will be visiting the bay area in november and am trying to get my dining itinerary in order. i will be staying at the river terrace inn located in napa valley and am planning on going to the french laundry, the restaurant at meadowood, and manresa. while TFL and meadowood will be easy drives, i am a bit concerned about manresa. my plan is to spend the day in san francisco and then make the trip down to manresa for dinner. how long of a drive should i plan on from the city proper to los gatos? also, what is the dress code at manresa? since i will be spending the day in the city and not going back to the hotel to change, i need to find a happy medium that will be comfortable for doing touristy things as well as the meal. would nice jeans and a blazer be ok at manresa or are most men in suits?
Depends on where you are in the city and the time of day. If you go in early afternoon from an area of the city with easy access to 280, then an hour. In other times of day it can take longer. 280 is decent traffic often until you hit Palo Alto.
You could wear jeans, but I would do slacks and a blazer - happy medium between jeans and a suit.
Jeans and a blazer will be fine especially with a nice dress shirt, most men are not in full suits. The bay area dining dress codes are far more causal than most cities. during rush hours 4-7:30 plan on an 1 1/2 at least, without traffic it's only an hour drive.
It depends when you leave and from where in the city you leave. If you are near a freeway in SF, then getting to Manresa during non rush hour will take you an hour. If you are not near a freeway (say the Marina or Golden Gate park) it will take you an hour and a half.
With traffic, it can take two hours to two and half hours (again depending where in the city you are).
The question I have is, where are you heading to after dinner? Manresa back to Napa is a long trek, especially after a long day of touring, a multi-course dinner and presumably some wine. Can you make Manresa your last night and stay near there before heading home?
For the day leading up to Manresa, there are lots of things you can do between San Francisco and Los Gatos (a trip down the San Mateo Coast, wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains, etc.) that could move you that direction and avoid making the drive during rush hour.
It's an hour with no traffic, but on a weekday at rush hour it could be close to twice that.
There's no official dress code. I don't think any of the men in the dining room when I was there were wearing blazers or suits. It was a hot day, most were wearing nice short-sleeved shirts, which is business casual by South Bay standards.
There was a group of venture capitalists in the private room and some of them were dressed up.
re: Robert Lauriston
I think I've always worn a jacket, but more of an interesting sports jacket, like a vintage corduroy or a synthetic moleskin. Jeans and jacket are always good. Do not go in shorts.
Do not drive back to Napa after dinner. Driving back to SF is plausible. Driving to somewhere near the airport is a good idea. Staying in los gatos - like, the hotel with Dio Deka in it - is a great idea.