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Jan 3, 2013 09:52 PM

Is Canteen ok for non chowhound? Or other suggestions... [San Francisco]

I have finally got reservations for Canteen. I usually travel alone so getting into Canteen has never worked. I am very excited, but worry about my dinner partner. I don't think he is much of a foodie (yet) and I am concerned a prix fixe menu may be off putting because it is limited . Is this a good choice or should I find something a little safer w/o prix fixe?

If not I was thinking of something still small, food he is familiar with, but still has a wow factor. Some places come to mind: Seven Hills, La Ciccia, L'Ardoise, Petit Laurent, Le Charm or Zuni Cafe. I am open to other suggestions too. When I ask him he says he is open to anything. We've had a lot of Japanese and Vietnamese food together in Sacramento. I'd like to try something new with him. We also have reservations for the next night at Kokkari. Thanks

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  1. Canteen is safer than most. The setting is very home-y and the ingredients are recognizable (e.g. not filled with Italian/French etc.). There are also a lot of standards - the food is pretty comforting.

    It's not a place for tons of substitutions and long lists of choices. Zuni Cafe has a bit of a longer menu - but frankly it's not a ton bigger.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      I was worried about that too because even though I like (understatement) interesting food I'm quite picky. I answered in the other thread where you inquired ( ) with pix so you could get an idea of what was on offer when we went. He seems to be doing his own takes on classics right now per the website but the current sample menu is both more expensive, fancier and more limited than what was available our night (perhaps because it is the NYE menu?).

      Agree that it is much more homey than many places I've been that have food at a similar level, both in SF and at home. I don't recall ever having to ask what an ingredient was.

    2. Follow up. It worked out great, my friend loved it and as the meal progressed he began to have an appreciation for the prix fixe concept. We sat at the counter closest to the chef and my friend really had a fun time watching Dennis Leary cook. Here's a more in depth report about the food:

      1. "I usually travel alone so getting into Canteen has never worked."

        They have a counter. Solo diners have reportedly done well there, e.g.:

        3 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          OP may be referring to the fact that reservations for a party of one can't be made via open table (or, at least, I've never been able to do so). The fact that a party of one has to reserve by phone is not transparent on the restaurant's website.

          1. re: BAnders

            If OpenTable (or any other online reservation system) doesn't have what you want, always call the restaurant.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            I tried twice, once via phone and another when I was staying nearby, no luck.