I had to pick a restaurant in SF for dinner with friends, and without the richness of the old CH, realize how out of touch I am. I am also feeling that SF rents are starting to really hurt the industry - driving down food quality, restaurant wages; Pressuring good people to open a second or third place with a winning template.
Here’s a list of what popped up ( partially from Eater’s Hotlist )
Al’s Place. Everyone seems crazy about it, tough to get in on short notice. Is it really all that?
Cadence. Bauer said it was “over designed” but he said basically the same thing about Saison so fooey to him. True or false?
Old Bus Tavern. Bauer ( brrrr ) said it’s a cut above the newfangled brewery thing, but I’m not going all the way to SF to eat at a glorified chili house. Or am I ?
Perennial. Another sustainable mid market whatever?
Volta. Seems like an actual interesting concept.
Cafe Du Nord. Hard to spend a city-dinner on a burger joint, but I like me some burgers, and the Du Nord is a sentimental favorite for a bunch of reasons. Reports?
Dirty Water. Another mid-market. Anything to set it above the others?
NOW, what about places that have been around for a few years?
( Note the complete focus on “california food”, leaving off all manner of Chinese Asian whatever. Let’s just call that a different thing )
Cockcomb. I love the place, I think they’ve got a ton of integrity and always eat off the specials list, and they are reasonable to get a short-range reservation. But my last 3 city-based meals have been there so I need to branch out.
Monsieur Benjamin. We have a lot of french bistro food down the peninsula, but maybe not this good. Worth spending a meal in SF on?
Mourad. Tried it once. I think to get the full experience you have to go with a ton of people ( at least 4 to 6 ) and get their family style stuff, which is rarely my mode.
Cotogna. For some reason, I never manage to go there, perhaps because a reservation on short notice seems impossible. Is it still as great as before, and I should try harder?
Kin Khao. With lots of good reviews, still impossible to get in.
Californios. Forgot that one, but looks great, imagine it’s still hard to get in.
Lilihoho. I get this confused with the Juhu Beach Club in the east bay, so I’m probably underrating it. How are they?
Zuni. How are they doing these days?
Flour+Water. Yeah, and them too ?
Commonwealth. With some of their folks off on other projects, how is it these days? It’s fairly easy to get in.
Range. An old favorite of many people that for some reason I never got to. Has it been surpassed, or still hanging in?
Trick Dog might even deserve to be on the “new list”, but it’s not super-new. Still haven’t tried it. Has it cooled off enough that one can get in?