Made a food trip to San Francisco along with DFW Chowhounder Scott last week. Ate at Mobil 5 star restaurants The French Laundry and Gary Danko's, plus Chez Panisse, Fifth Floor, and Masa's.
I strongly believe Lola's Tasting Room is right there and in some ways better than all of them. Maybe the style of the dishes at Lola is right for me, I don't know. I love how perfectly balanced -- textures, flavors, colors -- the dishes at Lola are and how it seems that there's never anything superfluous. Every ingredient has its purpose and contributes to the flavor. The French Laundry brings a certain cleverness to some dishes and many dishes are more elaborate, but I don't think they're *better*.
The French Laundry is a nicer restaurant overall, but Lola is a much better value. What amazes me (and makes me jealous) is that Scott thinks the meal I had at Lola was the worst of the several meals he's had there since.
btw, I know The Mansion has lost its 5 star status with Mobil. However, if Gary Danko's is 5 star, I think the Mansion should be as well. However, after eating at The French Laundry, Inn at Little Washington, and Charlie Trotter's, I would say that more correct would be to lower Gary Danko's. The Mansion and Gary Danko's just aren't quite in the same league as those other three. The Mansion should be **** 1/2 stars if there were such a thing.