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mark rudner
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#1 Post by mark rudner » May 30th, 2013, 10:33 am

i've got a few days in san francisco in july. based on prior trips and new info i was thinking of hitting the following places. i've got time for 3 lunches and 3 dinners.

swan
slanted door
state bird
rich table
perbacco
zuni

i would greatly value some opinions (and i know, slanted door is very touristy, the old one was much better, it's so popular nobody goes there anymore etc)
thanks [cheers.gif]

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#2 Post by H Wallace Jr » May 30th, 2013, 11:29 am

add to list-

Local's Corner
Namu Gaji
Bar Tartine
Hardy Wallace itb
Dirty and Rowdy Family Winery: Mourvèdre and Semillon Together at Last

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#3 Post by mark rudner » May 31st, 2013, 7:15 am

def'ly giving bar tartine strong consideration
any other locals have some insight for me?

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#4 Post by ybarselah » May 31st, 2013, 8:20 am

commonwealth should be towards the top of your list.

unless you have a ressie at state bird, you'll likely not go. lines are insane.
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#5 Post by mark rudner » May 31st, 2013, 8:28 am

yaacov
i'll be solo so hoping to walk in and sit at the bar

commonwealth looks great, thanks

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#6 Post by Robert Dentice » May 31st, 2013, 8:39 am

My top three in the mid-price range

1.) State Bird, State Bird, State Bird! Go early put your name on the list and tell them you will eat in front of the kitchen

2.) Commonwealth

3.) Le Ciccia

Other suggestions:

Central Kitchen

Mission Chinese - I like the original better than the NYC one

Locals Corner for lunch

Outer Lands - Chef Trained with the Chef/owner of State Bird but it is in a location that it is bit far from the center of the city

Plow for breakfast

Higher End - Benu or Atelier Crenn

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#7 Post by mark rudner » May 31st, 2013, 1:41 pm

robert
is the original as crowded as the one on orchard?

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#8 Post by mark rudner » June 3rd, 2013, 9:10 am

anyone been to rich table?

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#9 Post by David K o l i n » June 3rd, 2013, 9:13 am

Kokkari

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#10 Post by Mike Wenzel » June 3rd, 2013, 9:37 am

mark rudner wrote:anyone been to rich table?
Yes, it was great. One of my current favorites.

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#11 Post by mark rudner » June 3rd, 2013, 9:40 am

great. got a solid review from a friend on this coast so going to check it out. is there by any chance a bar i can eat at?

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#12 Post by Daniel Kim » June 3rd, 2013, 10:13 am

mark rudner wrote:great. got a solid review from a friend on this coast so going to check it out. is there by any chance a bar i can eat at?
You can try Bar Agricole or RN74.

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#13 Post by mark rudner » June 3rd, 2013, 10:18 am

thanks for the tip daniel. i would like to know if rich food has a bar as well.

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#14 Post by Richard Leland » June 4th, 2013, 10:02 pm

mark rudner wrote:i would like to know if rich food has a bar as well.
It does, but for my taste Rich Table is just another example of why Michael Bauer (SF Chronicle restaurant critic) is useless. In fairness I've only been once, but my friend and I had 6 dishes - two were terrific, two were quite ordinary, and two were just plain awful. On a more positive note - the best meals I've had in the last few months have been at Commonwealth, AQ, and Frances.
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#15 Post by Merrill Lindquist » June 5th, 2013, 9:53 am

Richard Leland wrote:
mark rudner wrote:i would like to know if rich food has a bar as well.
It does, but for my taste Rich Table is just another example of why Michael Bauer (SF Chronicle restaurant critic) is useless. In fairness I've only been once, but my friend and I had 6 dishes - two were terrific, two were quite ordinary, and two were just plain awful. On a more positive note - the best meals I've had in the last few months have been at Commonwealth, AQ, and Frances.
I have heard that Frances is quite good.
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#16 Post by mark rudner » June 5th, 2013, 12:13 pm

menu at aq looks great. thanks to all, and keep the reccs coming!

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#17 Post by Alan Rath » June 5th, 2013, 4:44 pm

Are you with a group, eating alone? I'm a big fan of Slanted Door, if alone just sit at the bar. Frances was excellent the one time we went. Liked State Bird, wasn't blown away, but would go back. Not a fancy place at all, but an interesting approach, kind of American dim sum. I would have Quince on the list in a high end spot, and its next-door sister restaurant Cotogna on the list as more casual. Both have bar space, though Cotogna fills up and is tough to get a seat.
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#18 Post by c fu » June 5th, 2013, 5:01 pm

Alan Rath wrote:Are you with a group, eating alone? I'm a big fan of Slanted Door, if alone just sit at the bar. Frances was excellent the one time we went. Liked State Bird, wasn't blown away, but would go back. Not a fancy place at all, but an interesting approach, kind of American dim sum. I would have Quince on the list in a high end spot, and its next-door sister restaurant Cotogna on the list as more casual. Both have bar space, though Cotogna fills up and is tough to get a seat.
I don't understand State Bird. I had no clue what it was when I went, my friend just took me there when I visited. It was just kinda typical small plates that are opening all over LA/SF.
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#19 Post by Alan Rath » June 5th, 2013, 5:06 pm

State Bird: kind of agree. We had a few dishes that were really outstanding, but some that were very ordinary. I need to go at least once more to form a better judgment, but at the difficulty level it is to get in, probably not any time soon. Its one plus was that the bill didn't hurt my wallet as much as most places do.
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#20 Post by mark rudner » June 6th, 2013, 10:45 am

alan, i'll be eating alone except for one meal.
sounds like i'll skip state bird this time as don't want to do battle for a seat.

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#21 Post by Robert Dentice » June 6th, 2013, 12:30 pm

Charlie Fu wrote:
Alan Rath wrote:Are you with a group, eating alone? I'm a big fan of Slanted Door, if alone just sit at the bar. Frances was excellent the one time we went. Liked State Bird, wasn't blown away, but would go back. Not a fancy place at all, but an interesting approach, kind of American dim sum. I would have Quince on the list in a high end spot, and its next-door sister restaurant Cotogna on the list as more casual. Both have bar space, though Cotogna fills up and is tough to get a seat.
I don't understand State Bird. I had no clue what it was when I went, my friend just took me there when I visited. It was just kinda typical small plates that are opening all over LA/SF.

I can understand why some people would not like State Bird. Especially if you do not get what they are doing. They did not create the restaurant to have all of the hype it has now. It was just a talented couple who wanted to do their own thing in a unique way in a very unpretentious setting.

As someone who lives in NYC and travels to Europe ~10 times a year and regulary eats out it is for me the most exciting restaurant in the U.S. It is probably hard to see that now with all of the hype - A James Beard Best New Restaurant Award and Bon Appetite Best Restaurant of the year...

And I keep going back over and over which is rare for me.

Nothing in LA remotely comes close. For reference I have been to Melisse, Animal, Red Medicine, Superbra and Providence in the recent past and a few more that I am forgetting.

The closest comparisons I have are Paris and Brooklyn.

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#22 Post by Robert Dentice » June 6th, 2013, 12:34 pm

mark rudner wrote:menu at aq looks great. thanks to all, and keep the reccs coming!

It is really easy to eat at the Bar at AQ.

Also you can do a smaller tasting menu at the Bar at Saison. You will be hungry afterwards but it is an ok way to check out what they are doing and not have to pay $300+ for the normal menu.

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#23 Post by Robert Dentice » June 6th, 2013, 12:34 pm

Robert Dentice wrote:
mark rudner wrote:menu at aq looks great. thanks to all, and keep the reccs coming!

It is really easy to eat at the Bar or Counter in front of the kitchen at AQ.

Also you can do a smaller tasting menu at the Bar at Saison. You will be hungry afterwards but it is an ok way to check out what they are doing and not have to pay $300+ for the normal menu.

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#24 Post by mark rudner » June 6th, 2013, 12:37 pm

hi robert
i know a lot about your vast restaurant experience and therefore will do my best to get in there. if they have seating at a bar, i will do my best to be the first person on line before they open. i've done it at various momofukus and others that require similar strategies and almost always been successful.

thanks
(long time no see at dbgb's. been to uncle boon's yet? was wondering what you think.)

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#25 Post by mark rudner » June 6th, 2013, 12:38 pm

sorry
you posted while i was typing. i was referring to state bird.

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#26 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » June 6th, 2013, 1:00 pm

What is walking into State Bird like with no reservation?
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#27 Post by Robert Dentice » June 6th, 2013, 2:28 pm

Glenn L e v i n e wrote:What is walking into State Bird like with no reservation?

Glenn - its really tough. There is usually a line of 20 or so people waiting in line when they open, some with reservations. They do keep some seats for walk-ins and you can put your name on a list and then have a drink somewhere. They are super friendly and try to do their best.

Mark - It is much easier for one person.

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#28 Post by Alan Rath » June 6th, 2013, 5:54 pm

I do think State Bird is worth going to. As a single, I would just get there early and wait at the bar.
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#29 Post by AmiDIbarra » June 15th, 2013, 5:41 pm

Alan Rath wrote:State Bird: kind of agree. We had a few dishes that were really outstanding, but some that were very ordinary. I need to go at least once more to form a better judgment, but at the difficulty level it is to get in, probably not any time soon. Its one plus was that the bill didn't hurt my wallet as much as most places do.
Alan,
Agree on how mixed State Bird is. We just didn't get the hype & thought it was overpriced for what we ate. Went to Korean after b/c we were all still hungry!

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#30 Post by Scott G r u n e r » June 19th, 2013, 12:39 pm

Went to Commonwealth last night. I think it's worth going to, but I would go back to Nopa and Zuni far sooner than going back here. The kitchen wasn't completely consistent with a few dishes that didn't quite come together and a few key execution errors that kept it from being a great experience. One of the dishes was "out of the park" good though. Service was good, not great, staff seemed a bit green.
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#31 Post by Scott G r u n e r » June 20th, 2013, 6:34 pm

Went to AQ last night. really interesting food and a clearly passionate chef. Went through a Gordon ramsay style tirade at one point when he was unhappy with how a chocolate pudding (I think) set up. Did stop short of calling people donkeys however.

Had a bay shrimp appetizer with garlic puree and Uni Ice Cream- Really interesting.

Main complaint (there is always one) is that like every dish had a pickled element- I get that this is really popular right now, but it was overpowering in a few spots- Particularly the egg dish- had to pull all the pickled elements to the side- killed the delicate balance between the matsutaki mushrooms and the perfectly poached egg.
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#32 Post by mark rudner » June 21st, 2013, 12:26 pm

thanks for the continued notes scott. the trip draws near and i'm going to hit most of these spots even if just for an app and a quick glass of wine to get a sense of the places.

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#33 Post by Leonard Maran » June 22nd, 2013, 5:00 pm

Four of us had utterly exquisite food at Rich Table and it was a risk as it was our first time and my good friends birthday. Bauer may well be useless but for me he was right on the money here (IMO). My buddy actually wanted to go to State Bird because we had enjoyed it so much on his birthday the year before.We tried everything in the book starting two months out and it was plain ridiculous: we are finished with the joint and this was before it was named best new restaurant in the nation, or whatever that was. And as much as I enjoyed State Bird that one time it is not what I would call a comfortable restaurant.The only other restaurant is this price range that I love is Cotogna.

Update 7 18 13: Well, I returned to Rich Table last night and found the food to be undistinguished in every way. Oh well..
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#34 Post by Linda Baehr » June 23rd, 2013, 1:28 am

Has anyone been to Baker and Banker? I have wanted to go there for a while. I was in the city last week and happened to walk by it and looked at the menu. It looks so interesting.
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#35 Post by Richard Leland » June 23rd, 2013, 11:24 am

Linda Baehr wrote:Has anyone been to Baker and Banker?
Been once, won't go back. The food was actually very good but we had the waiter from hell. He was aggressively pushing the set menu but insisted that the whole table had to take part. I explained that it wouldn't work for us because my wife is a vegetarian. He literally sneered at her and stalked off. He came back about 10 minutes later and with a great deal of attitude said that he'd convinced the chef to make an exception as long as the other three of us had the set menu. My friend thanked him for his efforts and in a very nice tone explained that while he was gone we had actually decided on four different entrees. He didn't say a word, just glared at us while taking our orders. We'd brought a bottle of wine - gladly paying the $25 corkage fee - and at the end of the meal my friend, who is also in the wine business, pulled out a small test tube of something he wanted me to taste and poured it into my empty wine glass. Our surly waiter - who had ignored us throughout the meal - noticed that and added a second $25 corkage fee to our bill. We considered trying to find the manager but in the end we just wanted to get the hell out of there so we subtracted the $25 from the tip and left.
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#36 Post by Linda Baehr » June 23rd, 2013, 12:48 pm

Richard Leland wrote:
Linda Baehr wrote:Has anyone been to Baker and Banker?
Been once, won't go back. The food was actually very good but we had the waiter from hell. He was aggressively pushing the set menu but insisted that the whole table had to take part. I explained that it wouldn't work for us because my wife is a vegetarian. He literally sneered at her and stalked off. He came back about 10 minutes later and with a great deal of attitude said that he'd convinced the chef to make an exception as long as the other three of us had the set menu. My friend thanked him for his efforts and in a very nice tone explained that while he was gone we had actually decided on four different entrees. He didn't say a word, just glared at us while taking our orders. We'd brought a bottle of wine - gladly paying the $25 corkage fee - and at the end of the meal my friend, who is also in the wine business, pulled out a small test tube of something he wanted me to taste and poured it into my empty wine glass. Our surly waiter - who had ignored us throughout the meal - noticed that and added a second $25 corkage fee to our bill. We considered trying to find the manager but in the end we just wanted to get the hell out of there so we subtracted the $25 from the tip and left.
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#37 Post by Mike Miller » June 24th, 2013, 6:54 pm

Let me put in my pitch for Zuni Cafe. I just love the place. Part of it may be that there are no similar restaurants in Texas. But everything is simply prepared with impeccably fresh ingredients and very well done. The knock on the place is that "That's not cooking, that's shopping." But I'll take it any day of the week. Their roast chicken with bread stuffing and salad greens is a simple dish, but I could eat it once a week and never tire of it. I've literally never had a bad dish there.

They have a small, but nicely selected list of modestly priced wines. A few prize bottles, but there are probably not more than a dozen or so bottles over $100 on the list (though there may be a few WELL over $100, as I recall a Coche-Dury or two on it the last time I was there.) But just lovely bistro wines made for quaffing with a meal dominate the list.

Needless to say, I love the place.

As to the others on your list, I don't have a lot of experience, but Slanted Door is a good choice. I generally prefer to go at lunch. Nice view and, while it's been a while since I had dinner there, I don't recall radical differences in the menu lunch to dinner. Take advantage of the Rieslings on the list. They match very well with the food.

Bar Tartine is very nice. Enjoyed it a lot. Only one meal at Atelier Crenn, but I really like it a lot. I'd place it very high on any list. Same with RN74, although it's been a while. I think that exhausts my experience with the restaurants lists unless I've missed something.
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#38 Post by c fu » June 24th, 2013, 6:55 pm

Mike Miller wrote:Let me put in my pitch for Zuni Cafe. I just love the place. Part of it may be that there are no similar restaurants in Texas. But everything is simply prepared with impeccably fresh ingredients and very well done. The knock on the place is that "That's not cooking, that's shopping." But I'll take it any day of the week. Their roast chicken with bread stuffing and salad greens is a simple dish, but I could eat it once a week and never tire of it. I've literally never had a bad dish there.

They have a small, but nicely selected list of modestly priced wines. A few prize bottles, but there are probably not more than a dozen or so bottles over $100 on the list (though there may be a few WELL over $100, as I recall a Coche-Dury or two on it the last time I was there.) But just lovely bistro wines made for quaffing with a meal dominate the list.

Needless to say, I love the place.
just went. tasty. pizza aint too shabby. Food isn't anything special but well put together. 2010 Coche Dury Meursault off the list. $240? Nice price, lower than current retail so we grabbed one.
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#39 Post by Leonard Maran » June 24th, 2013, 7:30 pm

Mike Miller wrote:Let me put in my pitch for Zuni Cafe. I just love the place. Part of it may be that there are no similar restaurants in Texas. But everything is simply prepared with impeccably fresh ingredients and very well done. The knock on the place is that "That's not cooking, that's shopping." But I'll take it any day of the week. Their roast chicken with bread stuffing and salad greens is a simple dish, but I could eat it once a week and never tire of it. I've literally never had a bad dish there.

They have a small, but nicely selected list of modestly priced wines. A few prize bottles, but there are probably not more than a dozen or so bottles over $100 on the list (though there may be a few WELL over $100, as I recall a Coche-Dury or two on it the last time I was there.) But just lovely bistro wines made for quaffing with a meal dominate the list.

Needless to say, I love the place.


just went. tasty. pizza aint too shabby. Food isn't anything special but well put together. 2010 Coche Dury Meursault off the list. $240? Nice price, lower than current retail so we grabbed one.

Actually the "shopping not cooking" criticism has also been aimed at Chez Panisse as well.I'm long over both Zuni & Chez Panisse, but not because of that. Zuni used to have some very uncomfortable seating, I'm not sure if that's still the case but when I am spending that kind of money it will now always be a factor. Chez Panisse just wasn't all that good the last two times. There is a good deal of competition now, and I think more interesting places to check out. Slanted Door has no longer been a destination for this San Franciscan; I'll leave it to the tourists, too loud, and a too precious wine list. Like i need to drink Gruner Veltliner. I am definitely interested in trying Bar Tartine again; when it was a Bistro it was ok but now, under a new chef it is Cal-Hungarian, and much liked as a result.
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#40 Post by c fu » June 24th, 2013, 7:32 pm

Leonard, the seating at Zuni is still $5 wooden chairs. It's pretty uncomfortable.
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#41 Post by Scott G r u n e r » June 25th, 2013, 8:50 am

Charlie Fu wrote:Leonard, the seating at Zuni is still $5 wooden chairs. It's pretty uncomfortable.
Funny- I definitely remember that from visiting Zuni last year. I was fidgeting all night.
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#42 Post by John Davis » June 25th, 2013, 9:19 am

Scott G r u n e r wrote:
Charlie Fu wrote:Leonard, the seating at Zuni is still $5 wooden chairs. It's pretty uncomfortable.
Funny- I definitely remember that from visiting Zuni last year. I was fidgeting all night.
Me too. That and a terrible a-hole waiter have kept us from returning. But given the love by so many perhaps we need to return.

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#43 Post by c fu » June 25th, 2013, 11:09 am

John Davis wrote:
Scott G r u n e r wrote:
Charlie Fu wrote:Leonard, the seating at Zuni is still $5 wooden chairs. It's pretty uncomfortable.
Funny- I definitely remember that from visiting Zuni last year. I was fidgeting all night.
Me too. That and a terrible a-hole waiter have kept us from returning. But given the love by so many perhaps we need to return.

JD
You should read our story from this weekend. They wouldn't let us use spit cups because in consideration for the guests next to us. But... The guests next to us had a rat looking dog sitting on one of their laps (and alternatively standing) the whole lunch.

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#44 Post by Scott G r u n e r » June 25th, 2013, 1:51 pm

Ha. Rat Dogs are an abomination to society. Nothing ticks me off more than seeing them in restaurants, grocery stores, airplanes...
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sf restaurant advice

#45 Post by mark rudner » June 25th, 2013, 2:21 pm

i think i had a rat dog on a corner in nyc one time
it definitely wasn't beef

Mike Miller
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sf restaurant advice

#46 Post by Mike Miller » June 25th, 2013, 3:30 pm

Leonard Maran wrote:
Mike Miller wrote:Let me put in my pitch for Zuni Cafe. I just love the place. Part of it may be that there are no similar restaurants in Texas. But everything is simply prepared with impeccably fresh ingredients and very well done. The knock on the place is that "That's not cooking, that's shopping." But I'll take it any day of the week. Their roast chicken with bread stuffing and salad greens is a simple dish, but I could eat it once a week and never tire of it. I've literally never had a bad dish there.

They have a small, but nicely selected list of modestly priced wines. A few prize bottles, but there are probably not more than a dozen or so bottles over $100 on the list (though there may be a few WELL over $100, as I recall a Coche-Dury or two on it the last time I was there.) But just lovely bistro wines made for quaffing with a meal dominate the list.

Needless to say, I love the place.


just went. tasty. pizza aint too shabby. Food isn't anything special but well put together. 2010 Coche Dury Meursault off the list. $240? Nice price, lower than current retail so we grabbed one.

Actually the "shopping not cooking" criticism has also been aimed at Chez Panisse as well.I'm long over both Zuni & Chez Panisse, but not because of that. Zuni used to have some very uncomfortable seating, I'm not sure if that's still the case but when I am spending that kind of money it will now always be a factor. Chez Panisse just wasn't all that good the last two times.
Interesting. CP just reopened just today after the fire. Last time I was there was last fall, but I thought it was as good as ever, at least up stairs in the cafe. I'm hoping to eat there in mid-July. I'll be anxious to see how they've fared since the fire.

What "shopping, not cooking" type alternatives do you consider superior to ZC and CP? I'd be very interested in trying them out. I am a huge fan of the "superb ingredients, simply prepared" style of restaurant. We don't get that here in Texas because we don't have access to that broad a range of great produce, or artisnal producers of meats and cheeses.

Eric Newsom
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Joined: January 31st, 2011, 8:12 am

sf restaurant advice

#47 Post by Eric Newsom » June 27th, 2013, 1:52 pm

AmiDIbarra wrote:
Alan Rath wrote:State Bird: kind of agree. We had a few dishes that were really outstanding, but some that were very ordinary. I need to go at least once more to form a better judgment, but at the difficulty level it is to get in, probably not any time soon. Its one plus was that the bill didn't hurt my wallet as much as most places do.
Alan,
Agree on how mixed State Bird is. We just didn't get the hype & thought it was overpriced for what we ate. Went to Korean after b/c we were all still hungry!
Totally agree. We were sort of shocked when the tab came. Add to that the fact that we gave healthy pours of BOTH 03 La Turque and 03 Alban Reva to TWO of our servers, AND bought a $75+ white off the list and they STILL charged us 2x corkage. Food wasn't good enough to overcome the pique that left me feeling.

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todd waldmann
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sf restaurant advice

#48 Post by todd waldmann » June 29th, 2013, 3:24 pm

Charlie Fu wrote:
You should read our story from this weekend. They wouldn't let us use spit cups because in consideration for the guests next to us. But... The guests next to us had a rat looking dog sitting on one of their laps (and alternatively standing) the whole lunch.

Huh?


I'm still not sure the dog was real. Charlie's hangover/sleep deprivation was bad enough that he may have been hallucinating. The part about the spit cups is real. [cheers.gif]
“Burgundy is, well, Burgundy. A minefield of potential disappointments beloved by elitists and pseudo-intellectuals who like to discuss ad nauseam growers and terroirs—not quality.” RMP

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Craig G
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sf restaurant advice

#49 Post by Craig G » June 29th, 2013, 10:13 pm

Charlie Fu wrote: You should read our story from this weekend. They wouldn't let us use spit cups because in consideration for the guests next to us. But... The guests next to us had a rat looking dog sitting on one of their laps (and alternatively standing) the whole lunch.

Huh?
It was a Spitcup Chihuahua.
“You need to look down to the bottom shelf where they keep the Fighting Cock” — Corey N.

C. Gle@son

ken emery
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sf restaurant advice

#50 Post by ken emery » July 5th, 2013, 5:02 pm

Richard Leland wrote:
mark rudner wrote:i would like to know if rich food has a bar as well.
It does, but for my taste Rich Table is just another example of why Michael Bauer (SF Chronicle restaurant critic) is useless. In fairness I've only been once, but my friend and I had 6 dishes - two were terrific, two were quite ordinary, and two were just plain awful. On a more positive note - the best meals I've had in the last few months have been at Commonwealth, AQ, and Frances.
I've not been to Commonwealth yet (meaning to get there) but highly concur with Richard on AQ and Frances. Frances has an interesting wine program when we were last there, you can order the house wine and they bring you a graduated carafe and you drink as much as you want and they charge you by the ounce. The wine was pretty decent, nice quaffing wine. They have a red and white they have made for them.

I would also recommend Canteen. You will have to have reservations and there is a "bar" option (the place is more of a dinner style than bar). There are two seatings and the food was quite good the times I've been.

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