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Birthday dinner for four... which of these untried choices?

Trying to select a place I have not tried for an upcoming dinner for 4.

Here's my current wish list.
Which would you recommend, or strike, from among the following?
-- Commis
-- Manresa
-- Campton Place
-- Keiko Nob Hill
-- Hachi Ju Hachi
-- Luce
-- Sons and Daughters
-- Nopa
-- Bar Tartine

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  1. Depends on whether you want to celebrate the birthday or the food. Manresa is a great meal but I would not feel comfortable having a boisterous time there. It feels more staid and hushed. Same with Campton place. Nopa and Bar Tartine are at the other end, Loud and lively places where volume may get too much. I don't think you will have a bad meal at any of these, (tho I would cut out Campton Place), I just think the tone of your celebration may fit one type of place more than another.

    6 Replies
    1. re: budnball

      Thanks bnb!

      We won't be loud, so any of these venues is okay in that regard. This night is more about the food.

      (The night before I'll be going out with a larger group to Chotto, which will be a tad more, um, boisterous).

      Why do you ding Campton Place? I know little about it...

      1. re: pauliface

        oh, skip nopa then -- it is way more "boisterous" than chotto.

        chotto certainly allows boisterous, but most times i've stopped in it has been pretty quiet.

        1. re: Dustin_E

          I was to Chotto on a Tuesday. I was assuming that, since it was in the Marina, a Friday would be considerably more crowded/loud.

          Regardless, my friends are well behaved and will fit in most any atmosphere. :-)

          I still may shoot for Nopa on the Friday for the bigger group instead of Chotto -- but it's to early to reserve there at present.

          1. re: Dustin_E

            Thanks, Dustin.
            What about sons & daughters makes you say to leave it out?

            1. re: pauliface

              i just liked it a lot less than, say commis. (and pretty much all the other bay area tasting menus i've had.)

              i thought the cooking did nothing to enhance the ingredients, and many of the flavors were off

              the service and space were certainly nothing to speak of, but unfortunately i felt the same about the food.

              this was a year ago, and i haven't been back, so it could have been an off night, or things could have changed.

          2. re: pauliface

            It struck me when I ate there as better than average hotel fare. Pretty but no all that inspiring.

        2. Manresa has the best food on your list.

          Keiko Nob Hill a close second -- classic french with a japanese minimalist / perfectionist touch

          Commis is a great value, and has great food.

          Nopa is fun and loud, certainly a lot more downscale than the three just mentioned. I usually just get a burger there.

          I didn't like sons and daughters.

          I haven't been to the other ones.

          1. Commis is a great value. The decor is severe and minimalist, but the staff is friendly.

            1 Reply
            1. Thanks folks!

              So far looks like Commis, Manresa, Keiko are getting the love for high end.

              Sons & Daughters & Campton place have detractors.

              Nopa and Bar Tartine -- I wil consider for a larger group another night.

              No feedback on Luce or Hachi Ju Hachi -- anybody been?

              2 Replies
              1. re: pauliface

                Nopa and (when full) Bar Tartine might be kind of noisy for a large group if you want to be able to hear each other.

                1. re: pauliface

                  I had Thanksgiving dinner at Luce last year. It was nice, nothing earth-shaking, but then Thanksgiving menus rarely are.

                  They did have a squash mousse for dessert which I thought excellent, but I reckon that won't be on there.

                2. An update...

                  We are going with Sons & Daughters.
                  In the end, we've dinged Commis, Manresa and Hachi Ju Hachi because they are outside the city.

                  And we've dinged Bar Tartine and Nopa because they are not 'special occasion' style places. (But see my next post on this thread for a followup question)

                  Keiko is more formal than we feel like doing (I feel I'd need to dress a bit) and Sons & Daughters sounds a bit more creative. We left out Campton Place and Luce because I could not really find any endorsements for either.

                  And, while dustin did not recommend Sons & Daughters, he was there a little while ago and there have been some very recent rave. Plus the place seems to be getting steadily better response since it opened. I like the idea of going to a place on its way up.

                  I'll report back after, but the meal is still a few weeks away.

                  1. One more question:

                    What is the appeal of Nopa?

                    We may go there with a larger group the night before, but I've never been and I'm having a tough time 'getting' what's good about them. The info on their site does not really call to me.

                    So, any Nopa fans out there? What do you love about the place?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: pauliface

                      Nopa to me is sort of like a younger generation's take on Zuni, which was (after its Southwestern phase) conceived as a San Francisco take on a Parisian brasserie.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I'll second what Robert says on Nopa.
                        It is one of my favorite places in SF. The food is always good, the wine and cocktails are both excellent and it is a place I can take anyone from my mother to my picky child to friends visiting from out of town.

                      2. re: pauliface

                        If reading Nopa's menu doesn't make you want to eat there, it's probably not your kind of place. It's pretty much the epitome of what Daniel Patterson complained about in his NY Times op-ed a few years ago.

                        http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/06/sty...

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          This is interesting. I'm not a fan of Zuni, never understood its allure beyond a good martini and oysters. So if it's the younger generation's Zuni, that is not a selling point.

                          And regarding the broad appeal that absc mentions, that's not a selling point either. I'd rather go somewhere my parents or a picky child would a problem with. :-)

                          And many of the restaurants in that article that I've visited are places I don't really get, even though others love them: Chez Panisse underwhelmed me.
                          as did Quince and Limon. I do like Slanted Door and A16 though.

                          So my suspicions about Nopa may be true...

                        2. re: pauliface

                          i've had good luck with their desserts -- especially their crepes.

                          i don't think the food is particularly interesting though -- most appealing thing to me is they are open later than most other places.

                        3. i was just at Sons and Daughters and loved it, start to finish. incredible, surprising flavors, beautiful execution, lovely space, wonderful service. Commis is fantastic too, more "serious", as far as food goes. For me, Commis is best when you can sit at the counter to watch - may not be possible with four.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            Commis's counter seats five, but being lined up like that's not very convivial for more than two or three.