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Best "old" school S.F. restaurant

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xoxohh Sep 21, 2013 05:09 PM

Greetings from L.A. I am wanting to go the best "old" school dinner that I can. I remember Ernie's, Blue Fox,. etc. You get the idea....Where would you send me? No restrictions other than a great over all experience. Thanks.

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    Dustin_E RE: xoxohh Sep 21, 2013 05:52 PM

    tadich

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      Thomas Nash RE: xoxohh Sep 21, 2013 06:22 PM

      Tadich

      1 Reply
      1. re: Thomas Nash
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        xoxohh RE: Thomas Nash Sep 21, 2013 06:23 PM

        Thanks, but I was hoping for something more upscale.

      2. Sarah RE: xoxohh Sep 21, 2013 06:31 PM

        Alfred's Steak House.

        31 Replies
        1. re: Sarah
          little big al RE: Sarah Sep 21, 2013 06:44 PM

          I would have said Tadich, but can't argue with Alfred's. I like them both, but I think in The City that "old school" and "upscale" aren't the same. Mind you, I generally eschew "upscale".

          1. re: little big al
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            xoxohh RE: little big al Sep 21, 2013 06:50 PM

            I am find dropping the old school for upscale, if that will help.

            1. re: xoxohh
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              calumin RE: xoxohh Sep 21, 2013 10:03 PM

              I'd recommend Bix - classic San Francisco and more upscale than Tadich.

              1. re: xoxohh
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                Rapini RE: xoxohh Sep 21, 2013 11:07 PM

                If you're okay dropping upscale, Original Joe's is clearly an old school candidate--even if it's no longer at its original location.

                I'd also endorse the Alfred's and Tadich rec's. Bix--while very good--is still a youngster at 20-something years old.

                1. re: xoxohh
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                  pspiegel RE: xoxohh Sep 26, 2013 11:53 PM

                  Atelier Crenn, or Sons and Daughters. The latter is new, but feels old school, if old-school restaurants did exquisite tasting menus.

                  1. re: pspiegel
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                    Dustin_E RE: pspiegel Sep 27, 2013 07:47 AM

                    there is nothing old school about either of those places.

                    1. re: Dustin_E
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                      pspiegel RE: Dustin_E Sep 27, 2013 08:01 AM

                      No, there isn't, Justin. Read xoxohh's last, above: "I am find (sic) dropping the old school for upscale." Crenn and S&D both qualify as upscale.

                      1. re: pspiegel
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                        Dustin_E RE: pspiegel Sep 27, 2013 09:08 AM

                        Saison
                        Coi
                        Benu
                        Atelier Crenn
                        Gary Danko
                        Keikos a Nob Hill
                        La Folie
                        Fleur De Lys
                        Sons and Daughters
                        Masa
                        Compton Place
                        Quince
                        Acquerello
                        Michael Mina

                        are all the upscale places in san francisco. the op should just pick one at random.

                        1. re: Dustin_E
                          Robert Lauriston RE: Dustin_E Sep 27, 2013 10:20 AM

                          I read the modified request as upscale with atmosphere reminiscent of Ernie's or the Blue Fox.

                          Gary Danko, Keiko, and La Folie fit that and reports on the food are consistently good. I'm not sure what the atmosphere's like at Quince or Sons & Daughters.

                          Saison, Coi, Benu, Crenn, and Mina are more modern in style.

                          Masa's is closed for downscaling. Recent reports on Fleur de Lys and Acquerello suggest they may be coasting on their reputations.

                          Campton Place, who knows? Here are the three reports I can find since Srijith Gopinathan took over:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7536...
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7127...
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5868...

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                            Dustin_E RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 27, 2013 12:36 PM

                            for atmosphere, quince feels stiff, formal, and corporate, while sons and daughters feels hipster upscale. i really like the seafood dishes at gary danko (less so the meats), and the whole tasting menu is good at keiko's. the dishes at la folie taste less precise and more "ostentatious" than the other places, to my palate.

                          2. re: Dustin_E
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                            xoxohh RE: Dustin_E Sep 27, 2013 12:46 PM

                            All of you SF hounds are the best. We've been to La Folie a couple of times and really enjoy it. Been to Gary Danko, but it's been years. Lastly, we also dined at Atelier Crenn and were disappointed in our experience. Food was not the issue, just the overall experience didn't seem to match the cost. I think this time around, it will be either La Folie (again) or Keikos a Nob Hill.

                          3. re: pspiegel
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                            ML8000 RE: pspiegel Sep 27, 2013 09:31 AM

                            The OP should simply read what Michael Bauer recommends.

                            1. re: ML8000
                              grayelf RE: ML8000 Sep 27, 2013 04:21 PM

                              Is that because Bauer prefers upscale places?

                              1. re: grayelf
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                                Dustin_E RE: grayelf Sep 27, 2013 05:12 PM

                                i think the comment was meant with sarcasm.

                                1. re: Dustin_E
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                                  ML8000 RE: Dustin_E Sep 27, 2013 05:45 PM

                                  Honestly at first that was the idea but after really thinking about it (and changing what I originally wrote), sensibilities do line up. If I were a real smart ass or brilliant, I would have just left it and not explained but it really struck me that the OP wants the Bauer "Full Monty".

                                2. re: grayelf
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                                  ML8000 RE: grayelf Sep 27, 2013 05:36 PM

                                  Because the OP's sensibilities for a good restaurant experience seems to match Bauer's in spirit if not specifics.

                                  The OP wanted; old school/clubby but upscale (now switched to just upscale), big welcome, kissy but exceptional service. That sounds like Bauer to me...minus the big welcome because, you know, no one knows who he is...and he does everything to hide his ID.

                                  Some might think I'm joking but I'm not, what the OP is looking for is Bauer. On that note, OP should look at Bauer's review of Michael Mina's.

                                  1. re: ML8000
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                                    sugartoof RE: ML8000 Sep 27, 2013 06:32 PM

                                    Seems like off topic joking that's just going to confuse the OP. You can't simply look at Bauer's faves or top lists and find what the OP is after.

                                    1. re: sugartoof
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                                      xoxohh RE: sugartoof Sep 27, 2013 06:50 PM

                                      Since I am the original poster, I don't mind asking this question. I am from L.A. and not familiar with "Bauer". Is the person included here with response's or is this a restaurant reviewer? Sorry for being ignorant.

                                      1. re: xoxohh
                                        bbulkow RE: xoxohh Sep 27, 2013 07:22 PM

                                        We've seriously misconfused you, I appologize.

                                        "Bauer" is the best-known restaurant critic in Our Fair City, he writes/edits/whatever the restaurant column for the SF Chronical.

                                        Here is a list of his most recent Top 100
                                        http://www.sfgate.com/food/top100/2013/

                                        You should give this entire part of the discussion a grain of salt if not a wide berth. I believe the original comment was made primarily in sarcasm.

                                        1. re: bbulkow
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                                          sugartoof RE: bbulkow Sep 27, 2013 09:04 PM

                                          I'll also add that Bauer does not specialize in old school SF, or old school service so he's not very relevant at all.

                                          1. re: sugartoof
                                            bbulkow RE: sugartoof Sep 27, 2013 11:35 PM

                                            The OP has gone back fully on the "old school" and straight to "upscale" where service matters greatly --- at a "high price" they want excellent service (really excellent, not run of the mill excellent) as well as top end food that's not too intricate.

                                            1. re: bbulkow
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                                              sugartoof RE: bbulkow Sep 28, 2013 02:08 AM

                                              I'm following along, but I still wouldn't turn to Bauer for that.

                                        2. re: xoxohh
                                          Robert Lauriston RE: xoxohh Sep 28, 2013 10:58 AM

                                          MIchael Bauer's reviews of high-end places spend a lot of time talking about the decor, so they might be helpful to you in picking a place.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                                            xoxohh RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 28, 2013 11:29 AM

                                            Do you feel Francis would be a nice choice? Seems that I have read some good reviews and comments. Plus Bauer rates it high, for what it's worth.

                                            1. re: xoxohh
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                                              sugartoof RE: xoxohh Sep 28, 2013 11:57 AM

                                              If you didn't like Atelier Crenn, I don't think you'll enjoy Frances which is a neighborhood place, over achieving in some cases, while attempting to straddle fine dining with casual contemporary hip. No table clothes, and a small room.

                                              1. re: xoxohh
                                                Robert Lauriston RE: xoxohh Sep 28, 2013 12:34 PM

                                                Frances makes some of the best food in the Chez Panisse / Zuni vein that I've had, but it's not very upscale at all. It looks like a casual neighborhood cafe.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                                                  xoxohh RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 28, 2013 12:54 PM

                                                  I'd happily alter the upscale requirement, for a great and tasty meal. I know this will open up a whole can of worms, but I think there are plenty ideas included here to go with.

                                                  1. re: xoxohh
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                                                    ML8000 RE: xoxohh Sep 28, 2013 01:10 PM

                                                    To be honest, you're sorta all over the place. Perhaps you should prioritize and list what you want instead of going with the can of worms.

                                                    Maybe it's the communications format or the place you want doesn't exist in SF...but might in the wider Bay Area. Any way, hitting a moving target is a hassle.

                                                    How's this for a question: what's the comparable place in LA that you would be happy with or go to in a similar situation? At least that would get you a directed comparison.

                                                    1. re: ML8000
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                                                      sugartoof RE: ML8000 Sep 28, 2013 01:51 PM

                                                      The suggestions the OP got were equally as all over the place. I read them as trying to accommodate some confusing advice.

                                                      Anyone reading this thread in the future looking for old school, or old style fancy would be just as confused.

                                                    2. re: xoxohh
                                                      Robert Lauriston RE: xoxohh Sep 28, 2013 01:12 PM

                                                      If you've dropped both old-school and upscale, this topic has pretty much stopped making sense.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                                                        xoxohh RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 28, 2013 01:18 PM

                                                        Appreciate everyone's input, but the point I am trying to make is I have plenty of wonderful suggestions here. Probably too many, and thanks all for your help.

                        2. eatzalot RE: xoxohh Sep 22, 2013 06:04 AM

                          I sympathize with you, xoxohh. Not only are Ernie's, the Blue Fox, La Bourguignonne, L'Orangerie, etc. gone, but they may antedate the memories of most Chowhounders for comparison purposes.

                          I'm not in SF itself enough to give precise advice; I believe Trader Vic's on Cosmo Place (an obvious contender in its time) is long gone. (Opened after The War as an expansion of the original across the bay, to address the shame implicit in Herb Caen's 1941 column reporting "the best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland.") Likewise Iron Horse on Maiden Lane off Union Sq. (lower-key than Vic's, but another upscale dealmaking venue).

                          How about the Cliff House? Or (much more elegant, hotel setting) Campton Place? The latter is comparatively new (1980s, when I dined there), but both was an old-fashioned-looking elegant venue 25 years ago, and also, has had outstanding chefs more recently, such as Chris Kostow before his three Michelin stars. Current chef brings Asian influences, but that itself is also part of SF tradition. Since the Gold Rush days when it was economical to send laundry to Canton for cleaning, as ship ballast.

                          Or Masa's. Modern international cuisine, traditionalistic venue, stable crew, one of the best sommeliers in the US (low-key Australian-born Alan Murray). Belongs firmly to modern San Francisco (it was The Place To Dine in its early glory days 30 yrs ago, when chef Masa himself was alive and acclaimed as a genius, until tragically murdered in a family feud around 1985), but certainly upscale, which you said was a priority. (Even if Bauer or someone did once gripe about having to walk through the building to get to the bathrooms ...)

                          Or Fleur de Lys? Upscale, old-fashioned, one of SF's favorite chefs, the exuberant Alsace-born Hubert Keller. Hubert is the Bay Area's "original" Keller, justly renowned since he ran the kitchen at Sutter 500, 30 years ago, and a familiar name long before the "new" Keller from New York that people started chattering about in the 90s. Huber Keller grew up with Alsatian folk cooking, and brings that tradition to his restaurant work.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: eatzalot
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                            xoxohh RE: eatzalot Sep 22, 2013 08:56 AM

                            Great reply, thanks. Yes I have been to Blue Fox. La Bourguignonne, Ernie's, etc and miss them all. Curious if you think Saison would be worth the $$$. Sounds right up my alley. I haven't been to Masa's in years and wondered if it's still as good. I like the Fleur de Lys suggestion as well. Thoughts?

                            1. re: xoxohh
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                              budnball RE: xoxohh Sep 22, 2013 09:40 AM

                              I believe Masa is closed at present and is being reconfigured. How about Farallon. Its s pretty old school and still can make a visual impression. The food is well made and tasty but still rooted in late 80s early 90s technique. For San Francisco, that is old school.

                              1. re: xoxohh
                                Robert Lauriston RE: xoxohh Sep 22, 2013 09:47 AM

                                Saison is an eccentric place, in many respects the opposite of old-school SF luxury. The kitchen and dining room are the same room and the chef plays 80s rock, the food is extraordinary but much more like a Japanese kaiseki meal than the French / continental stuff the old places did.

                                1. re: xoxohh
                                  eatzalot RE: xoxohh Sep 22, 2013 10:29 AM

                                  As I think about it, xoxohh, Fleur de Lys is the only place I personally know of that could approach both the elegance and even (with Keller's sincere enthusiasm for old Europe, in contrast to contemporary fads and fashions) the cuisine of decent high-end SF restaurants 50 years ago. And I haven't even been there in a good 15 years (even if that might support my credibility for archaisms here :-). The last Keller cooking I experienced was away from his site, at a black-tie top-SF-chefs' cook-off held at the Ritz-Carlton over a decade ago. All the fashionable SF chefs of the time participated. Hubert Keller was the clear favorite by diner consensus.

                                  1. re: eatzalot
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: eatzalot Sep 22, 2013 10:32 AM

                                    I'm not sure Keller's around much, he has several other restaurants and a TV career. The inconsistent reports here are consistent with the place losing its Michelin star.

                                    1. re: eatzalot
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                                      sugartoof RE: eatzalot Sep 26, 2013 03:23 AM

                                      Fleur de Lys serves pretty modern takes, with all the fads in plating (Asian soup spoons, lollipops, shot glasses, excessive truffle oils). It's nowhere to look for classic prep, or a reflection of SF restaurants from 50 years ago, though a few dishes are throwbacks.

                                      1. re: sugartoof
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                                        Dustin_E RE: sugartoof Sep 26, 2013 10:51 AM

                                        i feel this describe la folie to an extent as well.

                                        1. re: Dustin_E
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                                          sugartoof RE: Dustin_E Sep 26, 2013 11:44 AM

                                          I agree. I guess the idea was La Folie fit for the service.

                                    2. re: xoxohh
                                      bbulkow RE: xoxohh Sep 27, 2013 07:26 PM

                                      Whether a given restaurant is "worth the $$$" is terribly personal. For me, if the meal has 1 or 2 WOW moments - moments that redefine my relationship to food and taste, dishes I remember intimately for years afterward, then it's worth any price (especially as I get older and the crowded set of past amazing memories lies deeper and deeper).

                                      Saison provided me with one dish that was a Huge WOW (the "brassica" dish), and two others that were solid WOW. For that, sure, I'll pay $250/pp ---

                                      but that's a very personal response.

                                    3. re: eatzalot
                                      Robert Lauriston RE: eatzalot Sep 22, 2013 09:59 AM

                                      Masa was murdered by person or persons unknown.

                                      http://articles.chicagotribune.com/19...

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        eatzalot RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 22, 2013 10:35 AM

                                        Robert, since you must pick such little nits, I will elaborate that Masa's murder was popularly characterized, or theorized, as some kind of family feud AT the time, by local, PRINT, media (not distant newspapers, fetched up today, three decades later, on the internet). With your own claims of long local history, I truly wonder at the prospect that you too would not have seen that at the time.

                                        1. re: eatzalot
                                          Robert Lauriston RE: eatzalot Sep 22, 2013 10:50 AM

                                          I never heard anything about a family feud. His wife and three kids were in New York at the time of the murder.

                                          As recently as 2009, cold-case detectives were still trying to link the murder to the "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez.

                                          http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisc...

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                            eatzalot RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 22, 2013 11:12 AM

                                            Robert Lauriston: "I never heard anything about a family feud."

                                            On that, we're in agreement.

                                          2. re: eatzalot
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                                            ML8000 RE: eatzalot Sep 22, 2013 11:17 AM

                                            Hey but those nits are organic, artisan, heirloom nits that only bloom during blue moons in leap years.

                                            1. re: eatzalot
                                              Robert Lauriston RE: eatzalot Sep 22, 2013 11:47 AM

                                              You stated "murdered in a family feud" as a fact. I don't know why you think it's picking little nits to object to that. I heard a different rumor at the time but I'm not going to repeat it.

                                              There was also speculation at the time that there was a serial killer going after chefs, since Michael Yu of Yuet Lee was shot the same year, in another never-solved case.

                                        2. Robert Lauriston RE: xoxohh Sep 22, 2013 09:55 AM

                                          Maybe Keiko a Nob Hill? or La Folie? or Fringale?

                                          I'd have said Acquerello, but there have been some recent reports of it being pretty seriously off its game. Same goes for Fleur de Lys.

                                          Masa's is closed and being made over to a more casual place, as happened with the Dining Room at the Ritz. Reports on Campton Place since the last name chef left haven't been great. I think maybe the era of first-rate restaurants in hotels is over.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                                            Dustin_E RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 22, 2013 05:55 PM

                                            i'd strongly recommend keiko a nob hill over la folie.

                                            1. re: Dustin_E
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                                              pauliface RE: Dustin_E Sep 24, 2013 12:54 PM

                                              I think La Folie will serve you very well.

                                              No on COI.
                                              By all reoprts Fleur de Lys is just not the same as it once was.

                                              I enjoyed Crenn immensely, and it's currently #2 on my list to La Folie.

                                              We tried Saison in the old space, at the table in the kitchen. It was a strange experience. The kitchen was terribly quiet. The food was very good, but not amazing. And the wines, while VERY generously poured, were not good, we did not like them and we felt the pairings were random, as if with a dartboard.

                                              1. re: pauliface
                                                Robert Lauriston RE: pauliface Sep 24, 2013 01:19 PM

                                                Was Mark Bright at Saison the night you were there? I found his pairings mostly excellent.

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8178...

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                                                  pauliface RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 24, 2013 01:40 PM

                                                  Gosh, I have no idea.
                                                  It was in the old space.

                                                  I've had two particularly bad wine pairing experiences in SF in the last few years: Coi and Saison. In both cases I just felt like they were picking things randomly.

                                                  But I am sorry, I don't know whether this was when Mark Bright was there. Oops, I just googled him and found a picture -- I do believe he was the guy who was there during our visit.

                                                  Maybe he had an off night.
                                                  Or maybe I've got lousy taste!

                                                  1. re: pauliface
                                                    Robert Lauriston RE: pauliface Sep 24, 2013 01:48 PM

                                                    Bright's been the co-owner since day one. The pairings were pretty Eurocentric.

                                                2. re: pauliface
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                                                  Dustin_E RE: pauliface Sep 24, 2013 02:28 PM

                                                  pauliface -- have you tried keiko's? would be curious as to your take on it.

                                                  1. re: Dustin_E
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                                                    pauliface RE: Dustin_E Sep 24, 2013 02:31 PM

                                                    No, I have not. I've been wanting to try it but having a tough time getting traction with my friends. :-)

                                                    Charles Nob Hill used to be in that space, right? Now that was a favorite. Ate their twice and both times, exceptional.

                                                    1. re: pauliface
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                                                      Dustin_E RE: pauliface Sep 24, 2013 03:19 PM

                                                      i never went to whatever was in keiko's space before.

                                                      it is unfortunate that keiko's won't serve their full menu in their bar area. i've only been once for that reason. i've eaten in the lounge a couple times, which is nice, but not quite the same.

                                                      keiko's is definitely a place people seem to dress well for.

                                                    2. re: Dustin_E
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                                                      pauliface RE: Dustin_E Sep 24, 2013 02:33 PM

                                                      BTW Dustin -- are you still a big fan of kappa?

                                                      I recommended it today who was looking for a good place in japantown open on Mondays. [As you know I prefer Kiss but they are closed Monday, and Kappa is certainly good enough to recommend over most else in the immediate area. :) ]

                                                      1. re: pauliface
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                                                        Dustin_E RE: pauliface Sep 24, 2013 03:14 PM

                                                        i haven't been back to kappa in more than a year -- i have been meaning to go back very soon, though.

                                                        last time i was in there, they seemed to be making some small changes to the menu that would give it a bit more "mass appeal" (ie making a couple of the courses smaller and more detailed with more components.)

                                                        but yeah, i haven't seen/heard/learned anything that would make me less of a fan.

                                                        omakase is generally more accessible / better than their a la carte, but it has to be reserved a day in advance.

                                              2. v
                                                Violatp RE: xoxohh Sep 22, 2013 11:22 AM

                                                How about The Big Four?

                                                Admittedly I know nothing about it other than location, that it's quite expensive, and has that old school, upscale look, lots of wood and whatnot.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Violatp
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                                                  ML8000 RE: Violatp Sep 22, 2013 11:45 AM

                                                  Great suggestion. I'd add Campton Place but not as old school-ish as The Big Four.

                                                  Too bad The Dining Room at the Ritz closed because that would have given the old school look, lots of wood, great service, etc. but also a modern meal.

                                                  1. re: Violatp
                                                    Robert Lauriston RE: Violatp Sep 22, 2013 11:57 AM

                                                    Big 4 is similar to Bix, the new Original Joe's, and Alfred's, sort of a men's-club feel, leather booths, lots of wood and polished brass. Relatively casual American chop house or Italian-American menus.

                                                    Ernie's and Blue Fox were white-tablecloth fancy in a somewhat formal style, quiet, with French / continental menus.

                                                    1. re: Violatp
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                                                      sugartoof RE: Violatp Sep 26, 2013 03:27 AM

                                                      Big Four sounded like a good suggestion to me too.

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                                                      nocharge RE: xoxohh Sep 22, 2013 12:19 PM

                                                      The House of Prime Rib has been around since 1949 and could be considered old school, although it attracts quite a few young people that you wouldn't normally expect to see at a traditional old-school place.

                                                      Bix, while considerable newer, is very old school in attitude although it's more lively than some of those hushed super-formal restaurants on the list.

                                                      La Folie is pretty traditional upscale French both in terms of food and ambience. Acquerello and Quince might also work in terms of food and ambience.

                                                      22 Replies
                                                      1. re: nocharge
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                                                        xoxohh RE: nocharge Sep 22, 2013 02:30 PM

                                                        Yeah...looks like La Folie might be in the lead for our "upscale" dinner....

                                                        1. re: xoxohh
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                                                          xoxohh RE: xoxohh Sep 22, 2013 03:59 PM

                                                          We are also interested in a great "non" chain steakhouse.

                                                          1. re: xoxohh
                                                            Robert Lauriston RE: xoxohh Sep 22, 2013 04:04 PM

                                                            Alfred's is a local treasure. One of my friends brings his own nutmeg and a grater to correct the seasoning in the creamed spinach.

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8117...

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                              JeffW RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 22, 2013 04:48 PM

                                                              Boy did my hubs pick a great group of folks to ask San Francisco dining advice. I believe that we will return to La Folie, and we've already got a plan to go to Perbaco with our friends Deb and Michael. We're all in San Francisco to attend a wedding. We've secured a table at Saison, and I would never want to raise anyone's hackles, but we've been up and down regarding keeping this reservation. We may cancel. The dollars aren't even the consideration, not that we do this type of dining event regularly. We had dinner at Atelier Crenn, after hearing nothing but raves. Indeed we did enjoy some unique and special foods, but we had "welcome" issues, as well as service issues. There were things that made up for this, as the owner chef was most warm and came to our table for a fun chat. But I don't think we would return. Saison is getting nothing but raves, but we're a little nervous about a reprise of anything less than stellar, from the moment we walk in, until we leave. When a restaurant can achieve this, let me tell you (well I guess I don't really have to), there is nothing like this experience, and as kooky as this sounds, the money spent is well worth it. The idea of Alfred's is something that actually gave me goosebumps...when I was a boy, this was my very first dining experience in your wonderful city. I remember seeing "pickled pigs feet" on the appetizer portion of the menu, and I also could swear that they did something with a cube of semolina where they poured a liqueur over and flambeed it....not 100% sure of that, as I might be confusing it with a Los Angeles resaurant of old, called Chianti. But now Owen and I are seriously considering Alfred's. Talk about a blast from the past....first time, age 7, and second time, age 57:)
                                                              Will also consider The Big Four.
                                                              Thank you hounds....very much.
                                                              Jeff

                                                              P.S.
                                                              A couple of years ago, we were hearing magnificent feedback on a place called COI. Should this be a contender?

                                                              1. re: JeffW
                                                                m
                                                                ML8000 RE: JeffW Sep 22, 2013 08:22 PM

                                                                No on Coi.

                                                                1. re: JeffW
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                                                                  mdg RE: JeffW Sep 22, 2013 09:52 PM

                                                                  Coi is my favorite upscale restaurant in San Francisco, more so than Saison, but is far from old school. There's a lot of vegetable emphasis plus intellectual complexity. It has a shorter tasting menu than some other places in town, which I like a lot. It does have a very distinct personality which understandably causes some polarization of opinion, just like Saison. Service is wonderful.

                                                                  Michael

                                                                  1. re: JeffW
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                                                                    nocharge RE: JeffW Sep 22, 2013 11:20 PM

                                                                    In my opinion, a steakhouse, no matter how good, is just a steakhouse. No particular reason to go to one in SF, but no reason not to go to one either if that's what you're looking for. Personally, I find places that offer high-end meats as well as creative non-meat dishes (Alexander's, 5A5, etc) more interesting than the tired old traditional formula steakhouses. But if "old school" is what you want, you could probably do worse than Alfred's.

                                                                    As for places like Saison, Coi, Crenn, and Benu, they are all anything but old school and any of them may well rub you the wrong way if old school is what you are looking for.

                                                                    1. re: JeffW
                                                                      Robert Lauriston RE: JeffW Sep 23, 2013 09:02 AM

                                                                      Saison's great if you're into what they do, which is not the usual Michelin thing. It's definitely not for everybody, e.g. if no valet parking will put you off your feed, don't go.

                                                                      My report on the old location (from all reports the food's still quite similar):

                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8178...

                                                                      Some miscellaneous discussion:

                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875499

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                                                                        Dustin_E RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 23, 2013 10:22 AM

                                                                        in what way is saison not the usual michelin thing?

                                                                        1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                          Robert Lauriston RE: Dustin_E Sep 23, 2013 10:26 AM

                                                                          That's discussed in detail in the second topic I linked to.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                                                                            Dustin_E RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 23, 2013 10:54 AM

                                                                            the second topic you linked to says the word "michelin" only once.

                                                                            i suspect you have a very antiquated impression of what it means to be doing the "michelin" thing.

                                                                            a many-course small-plates dinner with heavy japanese and spanish/el bulli influences is pretty standard for michelin 2 and 3 starred places these days.

                                                                            1. re: Dustin_E
                                                                              Robert Lauriston RE: Dustin_E Sep 23, 2013 12:18 PM

                                                                              What's unusual about Saison compared with other places doing three-and-a-half-hour tasting menus is not so much the food but the atmosphere. The kitchen and dining room are in the same room and they play 80s rock.

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                x
                                                                                xoxohh RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 23, 2013 12:27 PM

                                                                                Well....the 80's rock thing might have sealed the deal for me. Think I'll pass. La Folie, Keiko a Nob Hill or even Alfred's might be the ticket.

                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston
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                                                                          nocharge RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 23, 2013 10:54 AM

                                                                          I believe Saison now has valet parking.

                                                                          "We also offer valet parking located directly in the front of the restaurant."
                                                                          http://saisonsf.com/reservations/

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                            JeffW RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 24, 2013 12:25 PM

                                                                            If it is o.k. to add one restaurant into the mix, I'd very much like to get your take on "Seven Hills".
                                                                            Thank you,
                                                                            Jeff

                                                                            1. re: JeffW
                                                                              Robert Lauriston RE: JeffW Sep 24, 2013 12:32 PM

                                                                              Haven't been yet. It's kind of inconvenient for public transportation and parking around there's not easy either.

                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/817237

                                                                              1. re: JeffW
                                                                                d
                                                                                Dustin_E RE: JeffW Sep 24, 2013 02:26 PM

                                                                                i've been meaning to try that place (seven hills) -- i walk by it all the time. it looks pretty packed almost every night. heard about it on former mayor willie brown's (ridiculous) food blog. looks pretty similar to the other cute little italian restaurants in the area (jackson fillmore, ristorante milano, etc.)

                                                                                1. re: Dustin_E
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                                                                                  sugartoof RE: Dustin_E Sep 26, 2013 03:35 AM

                                                                                  Seven Hills is an Alioto restaurant from someone in that family who supposedly worked at French Laundry in some capacity after spending time at the family business at the Wharf. They were said to be making pasta in house. Would be interesting to find out if it rises above a cute neighborhood place.

                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                    grayelf RE: sugartoof Sep 26, 2013 10:54 PM

                                                                                    We went to Seven Hills in November 2012 (report here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8850..., go down ten LONG paragraphs if you're interested). Boiled down to solid but not spectacular with a few missteps in a very crowded room. I don't regret the meal but I won't be rushing back.

                                                                                    1. re: grayelf
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                                                                                      sugartoof RE: grayelf Sep 26, 2013 11:10 PM

                                                                                      Thanks. That's about what I expected. I get the sense they're trying to get press that makes into more than what it is.

                                                                                2. re: JeffW
                                                                                  Ruth Lafler RE: JeffW Sep 26, 2013 11:23 PM

                                                                                  For formal, upscale/traditional, maybe Acquerello?

                                                                              2. re: JeffW
                                                                                bbulkow RE: JeffW Sep 27, 2013 11:15 PM

                                                                                Do NOT go to saison.

                                                                                When I read your post, it's quite clear you won't have this kind of special experience at Saison. Saison's previous location was almost a pit - a marginal area of the city, and they had a garden of crushed gravel as their front door, and you had to sit under a drafty corrugated tin roof (some tables), although in a very charming boho kind of way (to my eye). The dining scene in SF (other than M. Bauer) is very forgiving about "welcome issues" in general, about the guy at the next table wearing flip flops, hour long waits just to grab a number for a table, a million other small things.

                                                                      2. p
                                                                        pspiegel RE: xoxohh Sep 26, 2013 11:45 PM

                                                                        Old school: Alfred's, Tadich, House of Prime Rib, Original Joe's.

                                                                        Upscale: Sons & Daughters, Saison, Atelier Crenn.

                                                                        New and very hot (as in James Beard award): State Bird, Provisions, if you can get a table.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: pspiegel
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                                                                          sugartoof RE: pspiegel Sep 27, 2013 02:36 AM

                                                                          State Bird Provisions is pretty much as new school as it gets, unless the remodel changes that.

                                                                          1. re: pspiegel
                                                                            Robert Lauriston RE: pspiegel Sep 27, 2013 10:27 AM

                                                                            State Bird Provisions isn't upscale at all and the bare concrete and hard surfaces are the opposite of old-school luxury a la Ernie's. Reports on the food have been pretty mixed here. Plus they're currently closed for remodeling / expansion.

                                                                          2. c
                                                                            carlylecat RE: xoxohh Sep 27, 2013 12:41 PM

                                                                            Bix - Harris' - Tadich - Boulevard - Farralon

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: carlylecat
                                                                              Robert Lauriston RE: carlylecat Sep 27, 2013 01:00 PM

                                                                              I had a good time at Harris' but it didn't feel very upscale.

                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8117...

                                                                              1. re: carlylecat
                                                                                Civil Bear RE: carlylecat Sep 30, 2013 02:06 PM

                                                                                I'm thinking Farralon hits the OP's criteria of Old School & Upscale.

                                                                                1. re: Civil Bear
                                                                                  Robert Lauriston RE: Civil Bear Sep 30, 2013 02:11 PM

                                                                                  Farallon's menu reads pretty mainstream contemporary Californian to me.

                                                                                  http://www.farallonrestaurant.com/foo...

                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                    Civil Bear RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 30, 2013 02:13 PM

                                                                                    I'm talking more about the atmosphere.

                                                                              2. EarlyBird RE: xoxohh Sep 27, 2013 05:18 PM

                                                                                It is ANYTHING but upscale, but I love Tommy's Joynt. It's a hofbrau that's been around since '47.

                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                1. re: EarlyBird
                                                                                  eatzalot RE: EarlyBird Sep 28, 2013 11:15 AM

                                                                                  Tommy's Joynt! My God, is it really still there? I literally last ate there in 1975 or 76. Near the old Jack Tar Hotel -- which later changed its name, and got rid of the garish (rotating?) cylinder above it that served as a sign -- thus depriving a later generation of that weird but distinctive landmark.

                                                                                  Tommy's Joynt is not upscale, or fine-dining. Yet unlike many venues discussed on this board so eagerly, which are recently opened concepts, or representatives of modern restaurant genres found in many other cities and countries, Tommy's is very real San Francisco, with some roots.

                                                                                  1. re: eatzalot
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                                                                                    Violatp RE: eatzalot Sep 28, 2013 02:08 PM

                                                                                    Oh, it will be a sad, sad day when Tommy's ever goes away! Love it.

                                                                                    1. re: eatzalot
                                                                                      EarlyBird RE: eatzalot Sep 30, 2013 09:27 AM

                                                                                      To my knowledge it's still going strong. My wife and friend and I enjoyed a boozy 49er's game and lots of good food there just a couple of years ago.

                                                                                      1. re: EarlyBird
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                                                                                        Dustin_E RE: EarlyBird Sep 30, 2013 09:36 AM

                                                                                        it's still there, same as it ever was. usually pretty busy.

                                                                                      2. re: eatzalot
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                                                                                        sugartoof RE: eatzalot Sep 30, 2013 01:12 PM

                                                                                        "Tommy's is very real San Francisco, with some roots."

                                                                                        It's a Hofbrau opened in the late 40's.

                                                                                        It's one of the last of it's kind in the Bay Area, but Hofbrau's are less of a novelty in other regions.

                                                                                        1. re: eatzalot
                                                                                          Civil Bear RE: eatzalot Sep 30, 2013 02:12 PM

                                                                                          The Thursday lamb shanks at Tommy's are still on my rotation!

                                                                                        2. re: EarlyBird
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                                                                                          sfchris RE: EarlyBird Sep 30, 2013 02:14 PM

                                                                                          I go to Tommy's often for cheap drinks, good company, and the funky atmosphere. But I definitely cannot reccommend it to foodies. It is often quite salty, bland and overcooked low end cafeteria/prison food. That guy on the food network, Guy Whatever, did a piece on it recently, and he really has a knack for making places seem way better than they are. I wonder what is in it for him?

                                                                                          1. re: sfchris
                                                                                            eatzalot RE: sfchris Sep 30, 2013 02:33 PM

                                                                                            Agreed, certainly nothing distinctively local about Tommy's food-- I remember getting things like meatball sandwiches in the 1970s.

                                                                                            But it was the sort of place that surfaced in Herb Caen's column. Less often than Tadich, let alone the "Washbag" (Wash. Sq. Bar and Grill) or the all-time favorite, Trader Vic's.

                                                                                            The most _memorable_ quips about SF restaurants I ever read were by Herb Caen. 1970s prominent Chinese restaurateur apologizing to a tourist who asked for chop suey, "we only serve Chinese food." Baron P. de Rothschild impatiently waiting for table at Tadich, asking friend to drop his name, only to learn it'd already been tried, and did no good. And the 1941 comment I mentioned upthread, that the best restaurant in SF was in Oakland (the original Trader Vic's at 65th and San Pablo). Caen added that not only would most SF restaurateurs concur, they could be found eating there on their days off.

                                                                                            1. re: sfchris
                                                                                              EarlyBird RE: sfchris Sep 30, 2013 03:14 PM

                                                                                              It's definitely two thirds atmosphere/history, and one third food. They do a mean roast beef, and "solid" meat and potatoes type fare. One does not go there seeking a culinary adventure.

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