Thanks to all of the California Chowhounds, I had a great trip to San Fran.
I decided before I went that my theme, or raison-dete, was to find great restaurants without spending an arm and a leg. Any fool can go into Boulevard and spend $150 and have a great meal. I have and don't regret a minute of it. But this trip was going to be different.
On Sunday night, we went to Antica Trattoria on Polk Street. Great warm friendly service. My friend Hugh had the sliced steak and I had the pork tenderloin. Both were great - since we had made a deal when we ordered to trade plates halfway through our entrees. We had their famous dessert, some custardy type thing garnished with broken up bits of meringue.
Monday night, I treated my cousin Carol to dinner at Piperade. This ended up being the most expensive meal of the week - but hey! Family! The food was great, though the service was not what I had hoped for. I must say that it was a Monday and the place was packed - so I am thinking, in their defense that they had not expected the crowd that turned up. Or one waitress called in sick. My cousin had the filet and I had marinated lamb. I had hesitated to order them, because I was hungry and I was afraid I wouldnt' have enough to eat. Not to worry - although the chops were small, they were very meaty and very rich. I had plenty to eat. And my very smart cousin requested a side order of fresh veggies, which we shared - that really was the perfect complement.
Tuesday night was Pesce. I went with two others and we only spent $75 and ate a boatload of food. We had swordfish rolls that were spectacular and crab over a risotto cake and bruschetta made with fresh anchovies. A soup that was artichokes and something else that we were fighting over, it was so good. The most special place of the week.
Wednesday we went to Alamo Square Seafood Grill. We were all tired and ready for a good hot meal. The waiter (also the maitre d' and phone answerer) was not kind or friendly to us and we thought that kinda spoiled an otherwise OK meal. We had a very good salad and onion soups all around. Hugh had a NY strip and Sue had sautéed snapper and I had crab cakes. All were OK. I think my crab cakes were left on the grill too long. One side was just short of burned and inside was not as moist as I think they were going for.
All in all - I would go back to Antica and to Pesce again tonight if I were out there. Piperade - I would go to again, if I could feel better that the service was up to par. Thanks to every one on this board who helped out - I read and thought about all your ideas. I was struck by how many places were down Mission/Noe Valley way. If we weren't so far up the hill - I think we would have tried Cafe Spencer, Delfina, Le Zinc, and Chez Papa Bistrot.