Flying in from SoCal, recently moved from NY -- only have time for one "good" dinner in San Francisco. I had a reservation at Chez Panisse made weeks ago, but I canceled after reading underwhelming reviews.. I guess it just seemed too "classic" and I didn't want to miss on my only night in SF (i.e., risk being in the 50% that don't appreciate it)! I will be doing Slanted Door for lunch the following day.
Have narrowed it down to either SQPR or Quince (a la carte or tasting menu) - but must make a reservation ASAP! I don't want to spend $400 on this dinner (not a special occasion dinner), so in the case of tasting menu, I would not be getting the recommended wine pairings (unless highly recommended). My date is vegetarian, so a vegetarian tasting menu would be much appreciated by her for the experience (Savoy in NY did a great one for us on Valentines Day.. her meal was better than mine!).. that said I feel Quince's a la carte menu to be quite strong as it is.
Ideally meal would be $200 all-in, but I am fine with $250-350. Tasting menu + wine pairings would be $320 before tax-tip.. so basically $400 for 2. Figure a-la carte + wine (Quince again) to be $200-250 before tax-tip. And figure SQPR to be cheaper.
So SQPR or Quince, and Quince tasting menu or a la carte? Many folks of past spoke highly of Quince, but perhaps the new offering is less strong? Is SQPR the new king? I'm surprised not to find an extensive review of the two in comparison, online.
Other restaurants considered and nixed:
Classic italian -- wanted something uniquely SF
Firefly -- seems like a good option, but not respected as others.. tofu chile relleno also seemed too casual to be a "great" restaurant
Coi -- too $
Canteen -- limited menu selections and current "Week #" on website did not appeal. No lunch/brunch menu available
Jardiniere - I figured Quince was more the cult SF favorite..
Le Folie - Could not get website to work
Chez Panisse - seems risky... and reservation gone now anyway...
Zuni -- I forget why honestly..
Gary Danko -- I assumed very formal, did not look into it
Boulevard -- lack of vegetarian options. Upon calling, restaurant said they could do a plate of "seasonal vegetables". For such a well-regarded restaurant, its a shame they don't more for vegetarians than your local Applebees!
Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709
800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109