Dinner for 7 in San Francisco
August 23, 2007 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Where to have a major anniversary dinner in San Francisco?

My parents are flying into town to celebrate a major milestone anniversary. They want to have a nice dinner with their kids + significant others. Given that their offspring are flung between Berkeley and Palo Alto, we’re having dinner in San Francisco as a middle ground. There are, of course, a few wrinkles.

- We need a fairly quiet dining room. The folks are getting hard of hearing, and loud dining rooms play hell with the hearing aids.
- We have one foodie and one painfully unadventurous eater.
- We have one person who does not eat beef or pork.
- Almost any type of cuisine is an option, except for sushi and very spicy foods.
- Any area of the city is fine. Places with valet parking or other no-hassle parking preferred.

It’s a special occasion, and price is not really an issue. That being said, none of us are fans of the overly-tweaked, architectural presentation over taste type of fancy restaurant (i.e., Aqua.) Masa’s is a possibility, as is Boulevard, Fringale, etc. I just want to make sure I’m not overlooking any options, and it’s been a while since I made the rounds of higher end restaurants in San Francisco.
posted by ambrosia to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Jardiniere? (flash) It's usually fairly quiet - if the symphony/opera are on, it will be crazy busy until just before curtain, and then empty out, which is nice - and I've had excellent dinners there with vegetarian friends, who don't seem to have trouble finding delicious things to order.
posted by rtha at 9:14 AM on August 23, 2007

Nice but on the spendy side, La Folie and Gary Danko. Chez Spencer is a great spot too.
posted by zeoslap at 9:36 AM on August 23, 2007

My first recommendation would be some place like Kokkari Estiatorio - wooden beam ceilings, a big open fireplace, a relaxed feel and the best Greek food in the city.

The problem is that SF is a foodie town and many of the best restaurants are small and noisy and made more for couples than for larger parties. A place like Liberty Cafe is great, comfort food taken to the next level, but I doubt they can seat more than 4.

Anyways, off the top of my head... Boulevard would be good as you mention. Fringale is fine but consider Chez Spencer too.

If you want more of a classic big dining room feel, consider the Grand Cafe.
posted by vacapinta at 9:38 AM on August 23, 2007

Also look at Fleur de Lys (way too much flash - what is it about restaurant web sites and flash?). The friendly and opinionated folks at Chowhound love these kinds of questions.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:55 AM on August 23, 2007

Not in the city proper, but when we were in SF for a milestone birthday, our local friends took us to The Mountain House. It has a series of small rooms which makes the sound less of an issue - we were able to have a lovely conversation without straining. The food was quite good, and met both my husband's foodie needs as well as my own unadventurous ones. It may not be as swank as what you're looking for, but the majority of the other guests (in the room we were in at least) were wearing dinner jackets or skirts/dresses.
posted by librarianamy at 10:02 AM on August 23, 2007

Gary Danko, Gary Danko, Gary Danko. Did I mention Gary Danko?
The food is soooo good. The staff are amazing. The menu is appealing to a total foody and they are really gracious about accommodating the restricted eater. When I ate there they almost encouraged substitutions - suggesting that mains could be made into appetizers and vice versa.
It really is perfect for a special occasion. Really nice, but not too stuffy or pretentious.
Don't skip the cheese tray at the end. Mmmm cheese tray...
posted by Wolfie at 10:11 AM on August 23, 2007

How many people? More than eight is a whole different thing.

I love Campton Place's restaurant as a quiet, elegant place to eat in SF. I haven't been there in a couple of years, since the amazing chef Daniel Humm left. I heard they've had some trouble since then, so check reviews before committing. Lovely room and staff.

Another option is Alfred's Steakhouse. Great old traditional steakhouse without the corporate smarmy crap of Morton's or Ruth's Chris. They have a lot of space and even some private dining rooms. Straight up steak, though. I think there's one fish option for the non-carnivores, you should check.. And it's not particularly unique to SF.
posted by Nelson at 10:13 AM on August 23, 2007

Ron Siegel is at the Ritz-Carlton. I also liked Gary Danko a lot last time I was there. I'd avoid Fleur de Lys. They cost as much as everyone else and they use the same pricy ingredients, but something about the execution is just off.

As far as steakhouses go, I really liked the Rossini at Harris, but maybe that's less about the steak and more about the foie gras and truffle demi.
posted by juv3nal at 10:24 AM on August 23, 2007

(Uh, folks...he mentioned someone in their party doesnt eat beef or pork..why are you recommending steakhouses?)

In the Mission, you can also try Foreign Cinema which has a good special-occasion feel. The noise varies depending on where you are seated though. Honestly, thinking of a non-noisy place is the biggest challenge...

Also consider Myth and Bix which also have a great special-occasion feel.
posted by vacapinta at 10:28 AM on August 23, 2007

I apologize, I just talked to my friend in SF, and she told me I was wrong. We were at The Bella Vista. My mistake.
posted by librarianamy at 10:37 AM on August 23, 2007

Baywolf in Oakland is a really excellent place as is Lalimes in Berkeley (on Hopkins). If you can get it set up, another really good option is to have it catered by Lalimes or Gregoire, that really excellent little take-out gourmet place on Cedar across from the Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley. If you want to go further afield and you have plan ahead, there is a great new place in the Mission called Bar Bambino which has excellent Northern Italian dishes and some of the best wine options I've seen in the city.
posted by parmanparman at 10:42 AM on August 23, 2007

(Uh, folks...he mentioned someone in their party doesnt eat beef or pork..why are you recommending steakhouses?)

Because it's rare that a steak house that won't have at least a couple mains that aren't beef or pork. Harris, for instance, has 4 on that menu I linked.

If east bay is an option, Citron is very nice although it's been ages since I've been.
posted by juv3nal at 10:52 AM on August 23, 2007

I'd think any of the nicer hotel restaurants would fit the bill.

The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton springs to mind. Ron Siegel is turning out some of the best food in town, and I'm sure they could meet all your requirements. They also have a private room.

Another possibility would be Ame in the St. Regis.

Campton Place is a good call. Also check out Cafe Majestic in, um, the Majestic.
posted by trip and a half at 11:37 AM on August 23, 2007

Aziza could be great. Hugely varied menu, very cool atmosphere, and I feel like it's been relatively quiet when I've been there -- maybe ask to sit in the back room?

Fifth Floor is slightly fussy, but it's real food. My very meat-and-potatoes Midwestern brother and father both really liked it. It's got enough funky touches not to feel over the top pretentious, I think.
posted by occhiblu at 12:26 PM on August 23, 2007

Oops, meant to add: Fifth Floor has been *very* quiet the couple times I've been there (always with my father, who's also starting to have trouble with background noise).
posted by occhiblu at 12:27 PM on August 23, 2007

Coming here to also suggest the Cafe Majestic, based purely on this article from sfgate. It seems quiet and elegant.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:45 PM on August 23, 2007

Followup: we had dinner at Fringale. The service was attentive without being overbearing, the room was quiet enough so that everyone could hear, and the menu was a perfect mix: the foodies got to have their foie gras and duck confit and the non-foodies got their steak frites and roast chicken. (The frites at Fringale are really something, by the way.)

Thanks for all the input- there were some great suggestions and a few new places to check out!
posted by ambrosia at 10:55 AM on October 8, 2007

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