I've read through many, many postings, and narrowed down a location for our 20th anniversary to the three places - Commis, Gary Danko or Acquerello.
My wife is a culinary student finishing her second year in the program, and I want to take her some place that really shows off both the exceptional craft of the kitchen, with excellent service and front of house.
It doesn't have to be super-fancy or elegant, so Fleur de Lys isn't necessarily the target here. And she's not into the molecular thing, though I find it interesting. On the other hand, a "traditional" menu is not that interesting to either of us.
Fresh, local ingredients, interesting combinations of ingredients and/or preparations, and innovative presentation will rank highly. We've been to Chez Panisse for all of its simplicity and perfection, but I want something more unique (for this area) than that.
Commis is currently leading the list for me, and I am not put off by the $59 price for three courses (the debate on that thread didn't worry me - if it's good food, it's worth it). The ability to sit at the counter and watch them cook might be a real bonus for both of us, particularly if we can talk with the chef(s) about what and how they're doing.
OTOH, we've never been to Danko and it's certainly one of the high water places in SF, and would be a good reference point for a "special" dinner. I've been to both Fleur de Lys and Masa's and while they were nice, neither was particularly memorable. I've been to Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, and that was BOTH nice and very memorable. I would go back there in a heartbeat.
As for Acquerello, I've heard enough good things about it that intrigue me, and it sounds like a very reliable, very good experience all around - food and service.
I don't mind an expensive restaurant if it delivers on all counts, but I have found very few that really deliver, and I leave feeling disappointed.
Any suggestions among these three? Only suggest another one if you feel it really delivers over and above the best of these three - I have done a fair amount of reading the threads already and mostly eliminated The Dining Room, Masa's, Fleur de Lys, etc. as a result.
Our timing is mid-October, so I have allowed myself (for better or worse) about one month lead time for a reservation.