Suggestions for a couple birthday dinners... [San Francisco]
I am hoping to take my boyfriend to the city for a weekend getaway for his birthday and have a couple requirements that are not so easily searched for but easily recommended from personal experience -- and I think chowhounders are just the folks to help...
I would like to pick out two nice places for dinner. I don't mind spending a lot of money as long as the food is in line. We are both foodies but I have a much more moderate appetite than him which is a problem we run into with higher end cusine. I love the trend towards smaller portions, whereas he doesn't find them satisfying at all. (I have a feeling I would love a place like Atelier Crenn, but he would not for one example). I also prefer a good spirits program whereas he's perfectly happy with a not too complicated beer menu.
We are adventuresome eaters and like all kinds of cuisine - sushi, Italian, French, Thai, seafood, steak. They must take reservations (hate having plans like that up in the air!)
Even with my obsessive menu stalking and chowhound reading it's hard to get a read on portion sizes that will work for both of us. Some places I've considered (additional suggestions very much welcome!):
I hope this was specific enough and appreciate any help you can provide.
I think Aziza from your list will fit your bill. I had the tasting menu and I remember that the portion size coupled with the number of courses were just about right.
Some other options I would add include:
Sons & Daughters: Solid tasting menu and I remember feeling full (although on pricey end)
Quince: Fancy celebration place. They have the option of tasting menus or ala carte.
Central Kitchen: Good portion size, not super big, but also not tiny.
I would actually disagree about Aziza, much as I love it. We went twice last year and on the last visit Dec 2013 some of the portions had shrunk dramatically. Oddly, the fish entree was huge, bigger than I've ever seen from them in four visits over the last three years.
Perbacco has some wonderful food, but I think if I were going for someplace special, I'd pick Boulevard (which seems to have finally straightened itself out after losing Ravi Kapur and doing a dive temporarily). Pat Kuleto's interior is as gorgeous as ever, and if you can get a table in the back you'll be able to see the Bay Bridge lights, if I recall correctly.
Dirty Habit (terrible name!) still has a small restaurant dining room, on the 5th floor of Hotel Palomar off Market St./4th. Formerly the restaurant called Fifth Floor, chef David Bazirgan is still cooking at Dirty Habit and he is a really terrific talent. I'll put it this way: our favorite restaurants are La Folie and Etoile, and we rank Bazirgan just a 1/2 level lower.
At any of these kinds of places, do what we do: my DH orders a starter and either a soup or salad, then an entree and dessert. He'll be satisfied, and I'll do either a 2- or 3-course for myself.
Have a fabulous time!
re: Robert Lauriston
Why would it matter? Boulevard has four tiny windows in the back as opposed to 20+ facing Mission Street and Hotel Vitale. If you are sophisticated enough to get any of the small number of tables with a view of the Bridge, you should be able to get a four-top for a party of two. (I'm sure I could do that and I'm a pretty unsophisticated person, to say the least.)
Will Boulevard liberally give out four-tops to a party of two? Probably not. But it doesn't have an awful lot of seating with a Bridge view to give out liberally either. So unless you know how to navigate things in the restaurant world, you are unlikely to get one of those few view tables regardless of the size of your party.
For people who are into the Bridge view, there are plenty of places along the Embarcadero that have a lot more of it than Boulevard. But that's not to say anything bad about Boulevard in terms of food, service, general ambience, etc. Great restaurant.
Range should work for you from this list. A16 in Oakland would but I haven't tried A16 in SF so can't attest there. Have fun!
Thought I'd update and say we ended up at Aziza, Perbacco, and Hog Island. Aziza was absolutely outstanding and we left more than full. We each shared an appetizer (the flatbreads with spreads and the duck confit basteeya), each got a main (him the beef cheeks, me the vegetable couscous), shared a dessert (raspberry sorbet with goat yogurt, chocolate ganache and sabayon). Also got two cocktails each. He was absolutely blown away by the meal and cocktails and it was just to his taste, and I found it incredibly memorable as well. Ambiance and service were delightful.
Perbacco was delicious as well, particularly the desserts and the stone fruit and burrata appetizer.
Hog Island was terrific as well, there was a huge line but they kept pulling out couples for two tops which got us in in less than 15 minutes.
Also visited Absinthe, Tartine, and El Farolito, all old standby favorites of mine. Not a bad meal on the whole trip.