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MC Slim JB | Feb 18, 200504:46 AM     5

I have one night, maybe Saturday, maybe Sunday, to take my beloved out to dinner. It's not an occasion per se, just a too-rare visit to San Francisco, one of our favorite dining destinations, and we'd like some Chowhound steering.

We like creative, we like funky. The chef's work trumps all, but atmosphere counts, too. Good wines a plus, but we suspect that this is less a general challenge than what we are accustomed to (read: East Coast gouging). A broad seafood allergy limits us somewhat.

My own research suggests a few places: 2223, Charanga, Circolo, Frisson, Quince, Tablespoon, Tallula, Tao.

I just had a lovely meal at Bambuddha: really liked the vibe, the cocktails, the crowd. That might be enough, but the duck pancake, the duck lettuce wraps, the Thai cashew salad with the real chilli bite: those were terrific! Thought it was a good value, too. Charming service didn't hurt.

We can get dressed up or down as the venue demands. In a town with so many great options, how does one choose just one or two?

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