Northern California Restaurant with a Tasting Menu
August 20, 2013 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a culinary experience for a date in the SF Bay area or Sacramento area. Preferred budget ~$30-$60 person without drinks. Special details within.

I am hoping to find somewhere with a chef's tasting menu with several small courses. The idea here is a romantic dinner for a foodie, with lots of thought-provoking tastes to discuss. Preferred cuisine is California, French, or Italian. Asian cuisine not preferred for this occasion. Extra bonus points for a restaurant that can provide wine pairings in tasting-size pours to go with some of the courses. Double-extra bonus points for exotic meats, wild game, or other unusual animal flesh.
posted by agentofselection to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Roxy's Cafe is the only cheap tasting menu I know of in SF.
posted by foodgeek at 6:35 PM on August 20, 2013

They're on a break until September, but Monday nights Jardinere does a fantastic themed price fixe dinner.
posted by mollymayhem at 6:39 PM on August 20, 2013

Monday dinners at Chez Panisse (the restaurant, not the cafe) are $65.

If you can stretch to $85/person, Commis would be an excellent choice. It's definitely more inventive/experimental than Chez Panisse, although you're still not likely to get exotic meat.
posted by asterix at 6:45 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think official 'tasting menus' will be tough to do for that price, but small plates is more reasonable. In Berkeley, Comal and Cesar come to mind.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:57 PM on August 20, 2013

Most "prix fixe" menus in your budget will include an appetizer or two, an entree, and a dessert, so four different courses at most, and it sounds like you're hoping for more different tastes in smaller portions. What about something like State Bird Provisions? Assorted dim-sum style California cuisine small plates. They're closed until mid-September for renovations, but I went last year and loved it. It's not an "official" tasting menu, but it'll give you a lot of variety.

Otherwise, tapas or sushi?
posted by Pandora Kouti at 7:03 PM on August 20, 2013

How about ad hoc in Yountville? You can't get the menu until the day of, but I've never had anything bad's a Thomas Keller restaurant, so it's quality. And it's in your price range!
posted by guster4lovers at 8:30 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The chef from Roxy's recently launched the Palace Steak House in the Mission district of SF, and does an amazing tasting menu for $50.00 a head. It's currently BYOB, and the furniture is left over from the space's former life as a value-priced steakhouse, but the food is delicious and thought-provoking. I can only imagine that the prices will go up once they get a liquor license and better decor.
posted by zombiedance at 8:32 PM on August 20, 2013

I love Gregoire in Berkeley. Foodie for sure. Fancy not. I find it strangely romantic.
posted by icanbreathe at 9:49 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gather is a place where you can get squid, pork belly, rabbit, and also "vegan charcuterie" which sounds like a weird contradiction in terms, but is a really nice selection of small servings of unusual tastes and combinations. They have a full bar and wine list but I don't know if they do tasting flights.

Fonda is a nice tapas bar. Cuisine is more Latin American than Spanish/European. They have tequila flights and fancy cocktails, not sure about wine flights.

These are both nice places, but when crowded they may be a bit loud to be considered "romantic."
posted by expialidocious at 1:23 PM on August 21, 2013

+1 for ad hoc. This reminds me I need to get back there. I've had 3 meals there, each different, unique, and exquisite.
posted by ms_rasclark at 5:32 PM on August 21, 2013

Á Côté in Rockridge has small plates, they had rabbit and quail last weekend, they usually have wine flights - but the wine is often something unknown. The food is French / Californian.
posted by jet_silver at 6:26 PM on August 21, 2013

Response by poster: The Palace was absolutely the right choice. 5 courses, $50, lots of new things we had never had. Awesome recommendation, zombiedance.
posted by agentofselection at 2:52 PM on September 20, 2013

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