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SF special occasion restaurant that will tolerate a small child

a
awess Apr 25, 2013 10:58 AM

It's grandma's 95th birthday, so I'm treating her and my parents to a few days (Sunday-Tuesday) in the city. I'd like to have at least one very nice dinner, and a few other memorable meals. (For comparison, the last milestone birthday trip was for my mother in Yountville, and the dinners were at Bouchon, Redd, and the French Laundry.)

Now my sister is planning to join us - with her four year old. He's very well-behaved, doesn't need a booster seat and eats off the normal menu, and she keeps him in check. But still. And the trip is less than two weeks away at this point.

So, any ideas about good, special occasion restaurants in SF where I can still get a reservation for a Sunday/Monday lunch/brunch/early dinner that is nice enough and quiet enough for a proper celebration, but that can deal with a small child?

Thank you!

  1. a
    awess May 10, 2013 12:36 PM

    As an update, we went to Jai Yun and it was perfect. On a Monday night, we were the only customers in the place. Although I desperately hope that the chef generally has enough customer traffic to keep his business going, from a selfish standpoint it was really nice - the overall effect was that we had a private chef for a full-scale Chinese banquet of amazing quality.

    The nephew behaved beautifully, sat quietly in his seat the whole time, and tried a little bit of everything. I'm sure it didn't hurt that with no other customers, there were no distractions. The server was very sweet with him (and in general), and the food was absolutely divine. I live in NYC and my husband is Chinese, so I've had a lot of amazing Chinese food in Manhattan, Flushing and Sunset Park, as well as in California and China. This was right up there with the absolute best in terms of ingredients and technique.

    Even though we didn't mention that it was my grandmother's birthday until after we were there (at around 7:30 p.m.), they somehow managed to procure a gorgeous birthday cake and presented it for dessert with the most bonkers musical fireworks rotating birthday candle I have ever seen. I'm not sure know how they did it, honestly - we were in the side room and I noticed a few well-dressed people walking through the main room with a bakery box about an hour later, but never dreamed it was for us. My best guess is that a friend with a neigborhood bakery helped out, possibly even after hours. Regardless, it tipped the scale from "already amazing" to "in the running for best birthday ever."

    Thank you very much for the ideal suggestion!

    4 Replies
    1. re: awess
      Melanie Wong May 10, 2013 12:51 PM

      "already amazing" to "in the running for best birthday ever."

      Thanks so much for letting us know how it worked out. Love the cake story. Happy birthday, great grandma!

      1. re: awess
        h
        hungree May 10, 2013 01:23 PM

        Wow, sounds incredible. Curious, what was the price point you all picked for the dinner per person? Was it hard to get a reservation in advance?

        1. re: hungree
          a
          awess May 10, 2013 02:24 PM

          Wasn't at all hard to get a reservation, although it didn't hurt that my husband called and made the reservation in Mandarin, so that he could tell them there would be a young child and make sure that they were absolutely fine with that. (It did lead to a bit of confusion at the restaurant when my all-Caucasian family walked in, but that just ended up being a little bit of side entertainment for all.)

          We did end up picking the most expensive price point because it was a special occasion. It was $168 per person, and yes, that's high for Chinese food, but he prepared almost every dish that this blog post details (these people went a few times - the only notable exception is that we didn't have duck), and it was extraordinary. http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ar.... Of the larger dishes alone, the crispy beef, crystal shrimp, and pork shoulder were the best examples of those dishes I've ever had, and the abalone with egg white, crispy mushrooms, and sweet eggplant were things I've never had before and were incredibly delicious. Given the sheer amount of labor and hyper-fresh ingredients to make small quantities of dozens of dishes for just our group that night, I feel like we absolutely got our money's worth.

        2. re: awess
          d
          Dustin_E May 10, 2013 01:40 PM

          so glad you enjoyed jai yun -- very special place imo.

          that birthday cake sounds awesome / hilarious!

          i also think jai yun is right up there with the best i've found in china -- glad you felt the same way.

        3. c oliver Apr 25, 2013 07:00 PM

          Prior to our daughter's wedding a few years ago, we had wonderful dinner at Ristorante Ideale in North Beach. Definite suitable for a small child. Not fancy but nice and VERY lively :)

          http://idealerestaurant.com/

          1. m
            ML8000 Apr 25, 2013 06:38 PM

            For lunch you might try Zuni Cafe. Might not be nice enough for dinner but probably for lunch with a kid.

            1. Mari Apr 25, 2013 06:19 PM

              I took my toddler and infant to the Presidio Social Club for an early dinner and the staff was very kind to us. Plus the food was great.

              1. Civil Bear Apr 25, 2013 03:16 PM

                The problem isn't with the restaurant as much as with the other diners. A special occasion restaurant is a special occassion for many of them as well, so I would ask that your sister please think of them and get a sitter.

                Now I'm sure some folks will chime in that they wouldn't mind, but they couldn't possibly be speaking for everybody.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Civil Bear
                  a
                  awess Apr 25, 2013 03:38 PM

                  Yes, I hear you. I don't have kids, and I am usually on your side of the argument, but this is what it is. Even though he's a good kid, I wouldn't take him to the places that we went in Yountville or to somewhere extremely formal.

                  1. re: Civil Bear
                    Windy Apr 25, 2013 10:03 PM

                    It really depends on the kid. I was taken to some very fancy restaurants as a young child. No one, but the waiters knew I was there, as long as chocolate mousse was involved.

                    On the other hand, there are lots of adults that should be disciplined and shown the door.

                    1. re: Civil Bear
                      shellshock24 May 10, 2013 02:26 PM

                      Funny you mention this, just saw this article today: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/0...

                      1. re: Civil Bear
                        a
                        awess May 10, 2013 03:20 PM

                        As a side note, I'd given the concierge at our hotel the full run-down, and she had booked us at Gary Danko with the toddler. Yeah, that really wasn't going to happen - had to cancel that. I appreciated her work in securing the reservation, and I wouldn't mind going there someday w/o kids, but that was just not good for a child. That's when I turned to this forum.

                      2. d
                        Dustin_E Apr 25, 2013 01:43 PM

                        keiko's a nob hill -- has two rooms and sometimes the back room isn't used. i suggest you call and ask if they could accommodate.

                        farina -- serves brunch on sunday, and usually isn't all that full early in the night.

                        jai yun -- would be fine with a 4-year old.

                        kappa -- this place is very small, so if you called ahead and told them your dilemma, they might be able to accommodate.

                        north beach restaurant -- would definitely work well for lunch. good, traditional italian food. not cheap, but you are paying for the space and the service.

                        all five are relatively expensive, but they serve great food, and are almost never completely booked, so they could likely make it work if you call ahead.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Dustin_E
                          a
                          awess Apr 25, 2013 03:26 PM

                          A lot of these look like they would be great, and Jai Yun looks absolutely perfect - thank you!

                          1. re: awess
                            d
                            Dustin_E Apr 25, 2013 04:00 PM

                            anytime! also, to elaborate on the others:

                            with kappa, 5 guests is more than they often have sitting at a bar at one time, so i thought they might be willing to only serve your party if you arrive early (maybe at 5pm, as they open at 6pm.) worth a try if you like how the place looks online.

                            farina and north beach restaurant are large, rarely-full restaurants, so it would be easy for them to place you away from other diners.

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