I think that depends upon what one is looking for . . .
Danger! Danger! Warning, Will Robinson – Thread Drift Approaching!
(Personal theory only)
Chez Panisse, across the Bay from Restaurant Gary Danko in North Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto,” is [almost] universally hailed as the “birthplace of California Cuisine.” There can be no questioning the impact Alice Waters had on cooking in America. It was definitely (and defiantly) cutting edge . . . circa 1971.
Very little has changed at Chez Panisse since then, in terms of cuisine. There are so many – countless thousands! – of places that have surpassed Chez Panisse in the past 45 years, one stopped considering Chez Panisse “cutting edge” long, long ago.
BUT . . . does that mean it is no longer any good? Does that mean it isn’t worth going to? No. Of course not. (Well, IMHO, it’s “of course not”; YMMV.) And every time we go, I am reminded of just how good Chez Panisse truly is. The food can be deceptively simple, in that it’s not sauces, it’s not molecular gastronomy, it’s not modern technique or “architectural” – it’s pure ingredients that shine “purely” (I don’t know how else to say it).
In terms of Restaurant Gary Danko . . ., I think it’s much the same way – not in terms of cuisine, but in terms of what was once “cutting edge” and “amazing technique” is no longer so. Other places are surely more “cutting edge,” or display more amazing techniques in the kitchen; other places will bring a greater “fusion” of Eastern and Western influences together; etc., etc., etc. Like Chez Panisse, it is “frozen in time” – not much has changed since it opened, but it is still a place where both the food and service are wonderful, and well-worth going to . . . again, IMHO, and again, depending upon what one is looking for in terms of both cuisine and ambiance.
So, yes, if one is looking for things that Gary Danko isn’t, then heck yes, you can certainly do better! But if one is looking for a classic, romantic restaurant with great food for a special occasion . . . again, it all depends upon what one is looking for . . . .