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La Folie For Graduation Dinner For 4 [San Francisco]

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We were considering La Folie as one of our choices for graduation dinner. I'm relatively new to SF and have never been, and would like to ask how it rates in terms of flavor (I lean more to heavier use of herbs and spices and French that doesn't shirk flavor). I read a comment on Yelp disparaging it in comparison to the city's other authentic French restaurants, and hoped someone here could shed some light on that for me. Thanks!

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  1. i don't think the cooking is as careful or the flavors as precise as a lot of other places in the city.

    their dishes are big (nothing wrong with that), and they have a lot of ingredients and components (nothing wrong with that, either), but i don't think the elements work particularly harmoniously, and the flavors aren't as balanced. so for me, at least, the effect is "wow, that is a big complicated dish." but i just don't think it all tastes any better than more downscale places like slanted door or ozumo, maybe cafe des amis or something.

    anyway, it is near my apartment, and i love french cooking, so i've had the full tasting menu three times. but sad to say i just don't love their cooking.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Dustin_E

      Have you been to Fringale recently? Last time I was there I had a great meal on the more traditional end of the French spectrum but it's been a few years.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        never been -- i'll have to try it sometime. i generally prefer traditional.

        1. re: Dustin_E

          Where do you like for traditional French? My favorite was Jeanty at Jack's, haven't found a new favorite since it closed.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            l'ardoise

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              my best classic french meals (by a margin) in the bay area have been keikos and chez panisse downstairs (the french dishes i've had there.)

              i wish i had a favorite a la carte place for classic french. there are still a lot i need to try, though.

        2. re: Dustin_E

          Thanks for the input!

        3. i think it's amazing, but if you don't want to run the risk of being disappointed by such an expensive meal, consider chapeau!.

          1 Reply
          1. re: vulber

            Thanks, have loved Chapeau, and was considering it for one of the dinners to have with my parents while they're visiting - it's definitely one of our favorites. What worried me the last time was the crowding/noise level and I wanted my parents to be able to relax in a quieter setting for the celebratory dinner, if you have suggestions I'd love to hear them.

          2. For a special occasion, I recommend La Folie without hesitation.

            It's definitely French, compared to other high end more modern-foodie-sf (coi, benu, saison), 'california' (Chez Panisse), current-sf-homey-farm-to-tabley (Rich Table, State Bird)

            It's not a tasting menu kind of place. Rather, you'll order 3 to 5 substantial (portions are large) courses. Each course will have enough going on that by the time you're done with a 5 course meal you'll have had as many 'components' as another place's tasting menu.

            The food and the flavors, to me, are outstanding.

            A note about L'Ardoise: L'Ardoise is around the corner from me, and I like it very much. But L'Ardoise is not a special occasion place. It's good, solid, French (Bistro?) food. That's where I go for pate followed by duck confit. Or for their very excellent filelt mignon. But for a special occasion I'd go with La Folie.

            5 Replies
            1. re: pauliface

              i was answering robert's question about traditional french. it's comparable to jeanty

              1. re: pauliface

                Thank you all.

                I will be making a reservation at La Folie, my gratitude for all the helpful comments. Looking forward to it!

                1. re: Halcyonwing

                  hope you report back on how you enjoy it, and which dishes were favorites!

                  1. re: Dustin_E

                    Happy to report that the chef was in when we went for my graduation dinner earlier (party of 7) and it was quite delicious! There was a black cod course that I hadn't read of before that was easily (to me) the best of the night :)

                    1. re: Halcyonwing

                      great -- glad you enjoyed it!

              2. I would agree with pauliface. The kitchen can be a little sloppy when Passot is not there, but Fleur de Lys is far worse in that regard. When they are "on" La Folie can be amazing. It's just a shame he can't serve foie gras any longer; I think Passot did it better (and more generously) than anyone else.

                We find the heaviest dishes are the meat entrees and the oxtail or sweetbread terrine (he changes the terrine ingredients regularly). Altho the terrine is under starters we have ordered it twice and each time it has been very rich and substantial.

                His lobster risotto is a small portion and literally, to die for. Amazing, luscious dish.

                We usually get the four course and skip dessert. The desserts are okay, but not stunning like at Aziza/SF or Etoile/Yountville.

                3 Replies
                1. re: jaiko

                  i know i probably sound like a broken record repeating this whenever possible, but the cheese souffle is not to be missed at la folie - excellent sweet/savory combination - i haven't had other desserts there

                  1. re: jaiko

                    To be clear/fair:

                    I don't think I've ever been to La Folie when Passot was *not* there. It's part of what I like about the place; he seems very hands on, is incredibly talented, and seems more concerned with running a great restaurant than with becoming a celebrity chef.

                    But I don't know what might happen if he were to take the night off. :-)

                    And, jaiko -- while I am not a big dessert fan in general, (generally impervious to all offering but cookie plate or assortment of sorbets) I absolutely love the souffle at La Folie.

                    1. re: pauliface

                      A lot of people do, my SIL adores that souffle (as she also got the foie gras torchon in spiced peach consomme that was the highlight of that dinner, she clearly won for Best Meal that night!). But the other desserts, altho good, just don't rock my world the way the desserts at Aziza and Etoile do.