Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. We opted for Commonwealth, largely because we didn't think we'd be up for an hours-long dining event after a day of sightseeing, and were happy with our decision. The meal wasn't mindblowing or revelatory, but solid, and a fine value for what it was. If I had to offer a criticism, it would be that there were elements of a couple dishes that were out of balance -- the padron peppers in the farm egg dish overwhelmed with spice, as did a kimchee puree that dotted the plate of uni.
Chowhound also helped steer us to Canteen, where we enjoyed excellent brunch -- the Chupacabra is pretty much everything I could want in a breakfast dish.
We so enjoyed our lunch at Il Cane Rosso we went twice. Great, fresh, inexpensive sandwiches and salads. Our lone SF food dud was a stop for a light bite at Bocadillos. Any tapas restaurant that trots out such a sorry excuse for pan con tomate should be shuttered immediately. The highlight there was a plate of oversalted squid in mojo a la plancha.
Il Cane Rosso
thanks for your thoughts! and fret not, farmersdaughter, we'll be sure to cancel immediately.
I understand that this is something of a last minute request for information -- thanks in advance to anyone who has thoughts to share!
We're visiting San Francisco for the weekend, and have Saturday reservations at both Crenn and Commonwealth. I understand that we're looking at two different restaurants, at two markedly different price points. Discounting the price differential, which do you recommend? We like delicious food, first and foremost. We're fairly adventurous, appreciate interesting preparations and artful presentations, and a nice environment. Many early Chowhound reviews of Crenn suggest that diners have left hungry, but it seems that this problem's been remedied recently -- true? Leaving hungry would be a problem for us. Coming from New York, we're accustomed to fine food served in casual environments, so that aspect of Commonwealth wouldn't be an issue for us, so long as servers are helpful and well informed.
Deciding between two fine restaurants is not a bad problem to have. Thanks again to anyone who might help solve it.
this thread was helpful to me in my recent trip to sevilla, so i'll second much of what's been said here.
- we didn't have any blowout tasting dinners in our time in barcelona and sevilla, so bear that in mind when i say this: zelai offered the best, most interesting meal we ate on our trip, including what were likely the two best dishes: a duck and foie ragout with a creamy foam (sorry if i can't recall exactly what it was), and beautifully cooked bacalao with cauliflower crema, a touch of jamon, and butifarra blanca. the former was comfort food elevated, and a perfect for the cool, drizzly night. we stood at the bar, where service was very good -- helpful and well-informed.
- we had tapas lunch at enrique becerra twice. so good. homey, very friendly service, and excellent homestyle food. i'll second recommendations of the lamb meatballs and lamb in honey. also enjoyed cold almond and garlic soup, and braised pork cheeks. the dishes outlined here, plus four glasses of wine, totaled 20 euro. awesome value. and for what it's worth, we'd considered returning for dinner, but when we looked at the menu's offerings, it didn't make sense to us to pay 25 euro for larger dishes of the same food we ate in tapas/racions for 3-5 euro.
- we stumbled upon bar las teresas while meandering on our first night in town. stopped in for a handful of cold seafood tapas. octopus was a highlight.
- happened upon bar alfalfa at a later point. tiny, super charming, and as mentioned by a previous commenter, good jamon and manchego. very inexpensive too.
- visited becerrita for dinner, and enjoyed a great meal there. strangely, the most expensive dish we ate was a salad. is this typical of spain? we encountered very little in the way of lettuce, and in hindsight, it strikes me as especially silly that we paid 17 or so euro for a nice mixed greens salad with goat cheese, nuts, and fruit of some sort. good, but definitely nothing innovative or earth shattering. anyway, everything else there was tasty and a nice value. my girlfriend particularly enjoyed the pork/mustard/caramelized sugar dish that another poster commented on. tasty oxtail croquettes, as well as a pork dish that we weren't prepared for -- what was a warm, near rare, loin, wrapped in part with idiazabal or garrotxa, in a sauce i can't recall. staff here spoke little english, and the english menu didn't explain the plate very well. regardless, it tasted good once we got past our initial surprise.
thanks to all who commented previously. you were all very helpful in steering us to a number of excellent meals.