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phaelon56

Best fine dining weekday lunch in San Francisco?

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I expect to be in SF this January and want to celebrate a special day with an extravagant lunch. According to their phone reservations line the French Laundry is open for lunch only Fri - Sun so that's out. I'll have a car and could venture out of the city but if a good choice is available in SF I'd just as soon take a cab there and back from the hotel.

I know this is so highly subjective but here are my criteria:

- Wine selection and alcohol prices are irrelevant because I don't drink

- Dress code is irrelevant as I can dress up or down

- Price is no object within reason but if possible I'd like to keep it to $100 - $120 max for one person with tax and tip

- Great atmosphere counts

- It should be a place where I'll be treated well as a solo diner and not relegated to the bar or to a crappy table

- Open to any and all cuisines

- Stellar desserts should be available

- It would be nice if they have really good coffee

- Also open to dinner but would prefer a late lunch instead

Ideas?

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DAT is running during January, you might as well eat well each day and night you're in town. As far as the participating restaurants that do lunch - some people really like Campton Place though my experience there was less than stellar, Farallon is reasonably good, and A16 is quite good. Any of them will set you back $21.95 plus tax and service and Campton Place certainly fits the bill for fine dining. I think Zuni is overrated, some of the food is good, some of it (like the pizza) is awful, in any case the restaurant is best experienced for a lazy lunch on the weekend - it most certainly not fine dining.

The French Laundry with no beverage tab set you back around $225 for one person, though if you've never been I'd say its worth the price.

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Aside from those already mentioned, I know previous SF visitors have been quite happy with Hawthorne Lane for splurges.

I haven't been to LuLu for a few years; but, the sample menu looks pretty tasty to me.

Boulevard is also controversial among CA forum members; but, I've always had a nice time and good food there.

Recently had a very tasty dinner at Town Hall. Their lunch menu looks good, too.

And Daniel Humm, the chef at Campton Place, is leaving at the end of this year. I don't know if they have hired anyone yet to replace him. Campton might be good, or it might be treading water in January.

added campton comment.


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I've had one great, one good, one annoying lunch at Zuni; and two luxurious lunches at Boulevard. I like the food at LuLu's but it's a chilly space and uncomfortable seating (just my opinion).

Anybody tried Jeanty at Jack's? I almost went once for lunch but it got cancelled last minute.

Two others, Grand Cafe and Scala's, were fun and I thought the food was good at both. Not FL-league of course but no shame in that. Oh, and if desserts are really important to you, Citizen Cake might be good.


My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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Phaelon, I'm still thinking about the dinner I had at Aziza last January. The food was WONDERFUL, although I'm not sure if the locals would call it extravagant, but I really do recommend it highly. I'm not sure if they're open for lunch or not, but they're in SF proper.

Chez Panisse is in Berkeley, so just be prepared to go across the Bay if you make that choice.

My two cents from here on the East Coast! :wink:


"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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You can take BART to Berkeley, and then either walk or take a cab to Chez Panisse, so it's quite convenient, especially for lunch. I've done it several times, and have really enjoyed long lunches at the Cafe. If you decide to go, you might try the really great herbal infusions, made with fresh herbs.

We had a lunch at Jeanty at Jack's a year or two ago. It seems like it was on a Sunday, and it wasn't busy at all. Weekday lunches would probably be livelier. It's a neat old building, and the food was very good bisto food.

Boulevard might be a good choice. The more extravagant places in the city I can think of don't serve lunch. What about the Terrace at the Ritz-Carlton?


Edited by Carlsbad (log)

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What about the Terrace at the Ritz-Carlton?

I mentioned this on another thread a couple of months ago -- it seemed kind of stuffy when I was there on the last two visits, and while the food was tasty, it didn't thrill, esp for the price.

It made me sad because previous visits had me loving it. If it's a beautiful, sunny day and you want to sit outside, it might be a decent choice. If you have to sit inside, I'd definitely go elsewhere.


My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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Phaelon, I'm still thinking about the dinner I had at Aziza last January.  The food was WONDERFUL, although I'm not sure if the locals would call it extravagant, but I really do recommend it highly.  I'm not sure if they're open for lunch or not, but they're in SF proper. 

Couldn't agree more -- although it is only open for dinner. This has become my standard business meeting restaurant as the quantity and quality of food never fails to astound visiting guests.

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Most of my favorite/extravagant S.F. restaurants are *only* open for dinner.

For lunch, I particularly enjoy:

Palio d'Asti (http://www.paliodasti.com/)

Aqua (http://www.aqua-sf.com/)

Farallon (http://www.farallonrestaurant.com/) Tues-Thurs for Lunch

I have heard good things about the lunch at Boulevard, but haven't tried it yet.


Zymurgy, Cheese Making (and other milk cultures), tempeh, and sourdough - I'm a beneficent dictator of very, very little critters that return their love (and then I eat them)!

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Boulevard, Town Hall, Chez Panisse are all good options.

But personally... I'd save them for dinner and go get some dim sum for lunch. Or a couple of tacos. Or pupusas.

You get the idea.


fanatic...

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Okay... it's certainly sounding as though I shoudl focus on dinner more than lunch. Thanks for all the great suggestions. The fact that DAT will be in swing is an incentive to explore more full on more evenings.

And lunch FL is $225 without any wine or other alcohol? (I assume tax and 20% gratuity are included in that figure)

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And lunch FL is $225 without any wine or other alcohol?  (I assume tax and 20% gratuity are included in that figure)

Guess so, the website sez all menus are priced $210 (with gratuity). Not sure what the sales tax is exactly in Napa; but, that probably takes you over $225.

Ouch.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Follow up report:

Had a great trip. Ate at a few places with my cousins where they wanted to eat and also at one they recommended (mediocre to bad experiences across the board). one place I picked at random in North Beach (so-so food and terrible service), had one stellar Chinese meal with coffee biz friends and ate my birthday lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe.

Mediocre to bad:

- lunch at Bangkok Noodles Thai on Powell Street

- dinner at Sushi Rika on Bush Street

So-so food and terrible service: Cafe Figaro on Columbus

Amazing Chinese food:

Yuet Lee Seafood on Broadway - seafood soup, stir fried noodles with seafood, flounder with asparagus and black bean sauce and roast salt and pepper prawns. Best meal of the trip.

Good food but perhaps too subtle for my taste: Chez Panisse Cafe.

The spaghetti with Monterey bay Squid entrée was outstanding but polentina with Parmesan soup was bland and the blood orange with avocado and new olive oil was interesting but lacked something for my taste (and I could have made one just as good at home). I had Tomales Bay oysters to start and they were fantastic. Got a little side dish of anchovies and they appeared to be the typical oil laden canned product like one finds in any supermarket. Maybe they weren't but that's what they tasted like.

Dessert was apple/cranberry crisp. Very, very good but the candied tangerine ice cream served with it definitely lacked a creamy texture - I think it was served too cold. And the "French Roast" coffee sucked. Was so smoky it tasted burnt. I believe they use coffee from Blue Bottle in Oakland for the dinner service in the downstairs restaurant area and offer it by the press pot. I wish I had that option at lunch.

Thanks to all for the advice and suggestions - I only wish I could have stayed for longer.

And I had some great espresso and machiatto's at the Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk in Hayes Valley as well as at Ritual Coffee on Valencia. Very good indeed. And a couple drinks at Cafe Organica that were nearly as good.

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Hi,

I've thrown out a number of inquiries on the same topic in a couple of threads. In short, I'm looking for a great SF dinner that isn't: Manresa, Chez Panisse, Michael Mina, or Slanted Door. I'm considering The Dining Room (Ritz), Gary Danko's, and Fleur de Lys... any comments?

Any other suggestions?

Also, can someone illuminate me on this:

Boulevard is also controversial among CA forum members; but, I've always had a nice time and good food there.

Thanks all!

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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What would you like illuminated about Boulevard? It is hit-or-miss and most go because of the view and reputation. I have had two great meals and two just so-so meals there.

Most of the restaurants you have cited (with the exception of Manresa) are almost cookie-cutter replicas of one another in their level of haute cuisine, elegance, and perfectly-prepared food. Even on a vacation, eating at that level one night after another will get boring.

What San Francisco offers that might be of consideration is exceptional Chinese, Cal-Italian (cioppino like no where else in the world!), seafood, and various other ethnic cuisines.

For unusual and quintessential California, consider Aziza, Kiss, Zuni, Bar Crudo, and Ame.

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Hi,

I've thrown out a number of inquiries on the same topic in a couple of threads.  In short, I'm looking for a great SF dinner that isn't: Manresa, Chez Panisse, Michael Mina, or Slanted Door.  I'm considering The Dining Room (Ritz), Gary Danko's, and Fleur de Lys... any comments?

Any other suggestions?

Also, can someone illuminate me on this:

Boulevard is also controversial among CA forum members; but, I've always had a nice time and good food there.

Thanks all!

u.e.

I always love my times at La Folie on Polk. It's high-end French, the Chron gives it 4 stars. I can understand why someone might say it's cookie-cutter, but it is some good kind of cookie.

The reason I like it so much is that it's quite small and seems much more personal than some of the "name" restaurants in the city. When I arranged a friend's birthday dinner for 3 last fall, they passed me to Chef Passot on the phone to talk about the menu. I may be wrong but I wonder if I'd get to do that with Gary Danko or Michael Minna so easily. (Apologies if I'm wrong.)

If you want more of a scene, or just lots of bustle, it may not be the place. It's not like Boulevard.

If you want to bypass the haute-rich thing, and also experience California cuisine, I'd say make the effort to go to Chez Panisse in Berkeley. The downstairs. The only down-side to La Folie is that I usually eat too much and because it's rich food, it can make my digestion bumpy if I'm not careful. Eating at CP always makes me feel well afterwards. I recommend the downstairs because it's more peaceful than upstairs and it's a real pleasure to leave the menu selections in the hands of such a kitchen. And it feels homey.

Enjoy!


My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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I think you would get a great meal at Danko, the Dining Room or F de L. I'll also put in my inevitable plug for Acquerello. Great upscale Italian food, perfect service, quiet, romantic, and a terrific wine list, and someone who can really assist in picking wines. Nobody ever listens, but I keep trying.

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Thanks everyone for the comments.

1. ingridsf: To be sure, Chez Panisse is already on my schedule. Sorry, I should have clarified that earlier - I just wanted to get other suggestions as I knew that Manresa, CP and TFL would be commonly recommended.

Thanks for La Folie - but if it's heavy food, I'd rather not.

2. Okay, so no on Boulevard.

3. Town Hall? Quince? Incanto (too bad I'm not going with a huge party that can do the Whole Beast)?

4. Carlsbad: Will check out Acquarello.

5. Carolyn Tillie: Thanks for the suggestions. I read the Kiss forum and am intruigued - but comments there and on other forums comparing SF sushi spots seem to suggest that Kiss is better for cooked dishes. If I'm going for sushi, I'll want to be a purist... I've heard Ino and a dozen others are great. Any illumination on this?

Thanks for Azziza, Bar Crudo, and Ame. Will look into them.

What's so "unusual" about Zuni? I've read a considerable amount on the restaurant (well, I have for years).

6. Between G.D.'s, F.d.L., and The Dining Room, which would you recommend?

Keep the suggestions coming everyone!

Thanks!

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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5. Carolyn Tillie:  Thanks for the suggestions.  I read the Kiss forum and am intruigued - but comments there and on other forums comparing SF sushi spots seem to suggest that Kiss is better for cooked dishes.  If I'm going for sushi, I'll want to be a purist... I've heard Ino and a dozen others are great.  Any illumination on this?

Thanks for Azziza, Bar Crudo, and Ame.  Will look into them.

What's so "unusual" about Zuni?  I've read a considerable amount on the restaurant (well, I have for years).

6. Between G.D.'s, F.d.L., and The Dining Room, which would you recommend?

Zuni is less "unusual" as it is "quintessential." I should have clarified which adverb was modifying which restaurant in my list.

I have not eaten there yet, but Ron Siegal's work at the Ritz is getting a lot of buzz around town and is high on my list of next restaurants to visit.

Sushi-wise, I am getting jaded; I live next to Japantown and eat sushi two and three times a week. For me, it is the "cooked dishes" like those at Kiss that set apart an omakase of a sushi meal. I could give you a list of a dozen purist restaurants that are all so similar as to be almost boring (except to me which is why I eat at these two and three times a week).

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Zuni is less "unusual" as it is "quintessential." I should have clarified which adverb was modifying which restaurant in my list.
Right. Thanks!
I have not eaten there yet, but Ron Siegal's work at the Ritz is getting a lot of buzz around town and is high on my list of next restaurants to visit.
Me too.... which is why I'm tempted to risk "haute" fatigue by going high-end four nights in a row...
Sushi-wise, I am getting jaded; I live next to Japantown and eat sushi two and three times a week. For me, it is the "cooked dishes" like those at Kiss that set apart an omakase of a sushi meal. I could give you a list of a dozen purist restaurants that are all so similar as to be almost boring (except to me which is why I eat at these two and three times a week).

1. Who's the sushi master at Kiss? Does he/she do omakase meals? Kaiseki? If so, what are the prices and what does it include?

2. Would appreciate great sushi suggestions - if they're really that great, I won't be bored or disappointed - I promise. :biggrin:

u.e.


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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