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Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

If you get there first, I will buy the first round of drinks. And I will bring an obscure German card game because, well, I don't really play chess.

Mar 07, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

LA, NY, and....Pittsburgh? Well now.

Mar 07, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Wow, thank you for that description. I think the Dim Sum format alone is worth it for me, we have nothing like that here in Chicago. I mean outside very traditional places in Chinatown. I am leaning heavily toward it.

Mar 07, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Email sent. Let me know if you didn't get it, yahoo is being a jerk.

Mar 07, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Nope, this dinner will be Sunday the 23rd.

Mar 07, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

At what time on a Sunday night would you need to get there to score a spot, do you think? I have been intrigued by State Bird for a while now, and your description makes me want to go even more. And I agree with you about Michelin stars, the awards here in Chicago seem crazy to me in most cases. But it is a place to start in choosing, when you have every restaurant in the city to choose from, essentially. If I gamble and don't get in there, though, I will be left without a reso and it will vastly change my options. Might be worth it.

Mar 07, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

True! Also apparently too bad that we are both going after the big shakeup on the 18th. Not that I think quality will suffer, but such a change might always disrupt the magic, especially so soon after. Or it might be just what they need to get that stupid old Michelin star. Either way, we will never know, because we will never have experienced it the way it was. Now I am getting wistful. Must be the wine.

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Oh, I am not expecting it. It was just one of those once in a lifetime synergistic things where everything came together just right. I guess, given the time it would take to get there and back, it might be a lot of pressure on Commis to make it all worthwhile. I know from experience that managing expectation is important. I have never loved a really out there expensive meal as much as a more moderately priced one in the same wheelhouse. It just makes me personally feel like it needs to be THAT much better, and is it ever? It probably can be, it just hasn't happened that way for me yet. Maybe I need more money. In this case, I think the distance might make me...grumpy.

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Hmm. Well, it would involve an almost mile walk from the BART station in Oakland through what I understand is a slightly sketchy neighborhood. And yes, I live IN Chicago and I spend a fair amount of time in sketchy neighborhoods. But is it worth it with so many great choices so much closer?

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Oh, and Schwa was far and beyond the best dining experience of my life. No servers, no host, just you and the kitchen and other diners, some with $200 bottles of wine, some with a 12 pack of PBR. I heard from a friend who staged there that they liked gummy candy, so I brought some kind of fancy gummy bears, and they treated us to 4 extra courses and poured several off the menu from their personal supply. Every dish was remarkable and brought me pure joyful delight. OK, one dish was unremarkable. But one out of 14 ain't bad. For weeks I would look over the menu I saved (and on which I wrote notes to include the extra stuff) just to relive it for a brief moment.

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

I thought about it, but wouldn't the cab fare be ridiculous? It does look most clearly up my alley.

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Thank you for that! I would say my palate craves "adventure". My favorite place here in Chicago is Schwa, which many don't like because it is REALLY out there. And several other Chicago restaurants which wow most I find pedestrian. Basically, my goal here is to try a flavor combination I have never had before. I am not necessarily a fan of gastronomical biology, at least not when it is gimmick above taste. But such treatments often go hand in hand with the kind of innovation I am always seeking. It can be a tricky task and has led to some crappy meals, but there it is.

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Sunday night, Crenn is closed. As are all my other first choices, actually. I was going to go all out. But alas, it is not to be this trip.

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

That was a great hijacking which helped me immensely! BacoMan, imagine if you had just ONE meal in the city, it feels like an impossible choice to make. I am going to be in Sonoma for the rest of the weekend with friends, but I decided to fly out one day later so that I could have one solo meal. The fact that the full tasting at AQ is now $80 is an interesting consideration...although 4 courses would probably be fine. And my budget would love me.

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

Fair enough. Thanks for the input! Any other places you think I should consider instead? I am basically cross referencing chowhound posts/distance/michelin stars/menus/cost. It is slightly exhausting.

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

I am specifically hoping for a tasting menu, so the a la carte option isn't a deciding factor there. AQ is more inventive than Sons and Daughters, in your opinion?

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

I searched your profile and cannot find your "top ten" anywhere in your recent posts. Might I ask that you share here?

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

I have read several of your threads with great interest, they helped me to narrow my choices down to these three (and caused me to consider countless others not on an original list). I hope you enjoy your jaunt up north! Thanks for taking the time to distill what you have gleaned.

Mar 06, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday night dinner: Sons and Daughters vs AQ or Commonwealth [San Francisco]

I have one night for dinner in SF. I am staying at Le Meridien, and Sons and Daughters looks to be walking distance (around 3/4 mile). I would need a cab to either of the other two, which offsets some of the higher cost at Sons and Daughters (how much is a mile and a half cab ride in SF anyway?). I have read MANY discussions about all 3 restaurants, including those which directly compare AQ and Commonwealth. But please humor me and weigh in! Factor in that I am a solo diner, and that I value inventive, new flavor combinations above all else and food far higher than atmosphere or service, and tell me which you would choose!

Mar 05, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sonoma Valley Winery Passport-anything worthwhile?

Thanks! I appreciate the help.

Jan 11, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sonoma Valley Winery Passport-anything worthwhile?

No takers yet, so I will specify and see if anyone is willing to help. I am thinking about suggesting we go to Healdsburg, as I've never made it that far north and it sounds like a lovely little town. Taking the 12 to the 101 gives us several options from the list, including (from south to north) Ravenswood, Little Vineyards, Imagery, Benziger (which from other thread reading it sounds like I want to avoid), Wellington, Kunde (to which I have been), Kenwood, Chateau St Jean, Enkidu, and Paradise Ridge. I could add Homewood, Gundlach Bundschu, and Bartholomew Park to the list if we go a little off the path. Can anyone let me know if they would specifically avoid, or seek out, any of these?

Jan 10, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Sonoma Valley Winery Passport-anything worthwhile?

I am coming to Sonoma in late March with a group of friends. It is my second visit, the first for most of the group. The cottage we are renting is providing winery passports for us, and as some of our group are barely squeaking by on paying for the trip, I am sure they will want to take advantage. I am probably the only one of us with wine knowledge and a desire to REALLY taste, the rest are in it for the fun and ability to hang out together. So I am basically trying to make sure I get in one or two decent experiences amidst they more touristy stuff. I have read several threads about wineries in the area, and I have seen the one which basically says nothing on the list is worthwhile. But if your friend who barely drinks was in town, and you HAD to choose from this list (and please factor in the experience and setting as much as the wine) which of these would you visit? I am not including those on the square, just those which would necessitate a special trip.
Bartholomew
Benziger
Chateu St Jean
Cline
Enkidu
Gundlach Bundschu
Homewood
Imagery
Jacuzzi
Jonathan Smith (can't find a thing about this one)
Kenwood
Kunde
Larson
Little Vineyards
Loxton
MacRostie
Paradise Ridge
Peters Cellars
Ravenswood
Robledo Family
Schug
Ty Caton
Viansa
VJB
Wellington

I appreciate that this list might be abhorrent to some of you, but please try to understand my dilemma! If you would like to add your absolute favorite tasting room in Sonoma County so that I can try to slip in something worthwhile, I would also be most appreciative. Again, a lovely or unique setting will be the most important things to the group at large. I love almost all wines, but prefer earthy, full bodied reds (zins, syrah, blends). Thanks!

Jan 09, 2014
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Anniversary dinner in MKE-Hinterland, Braise, or c1880?

Feel free to recommend any others, these are just the three we are leaning towards.

Sep 29, 2013
kstaigs in Great Lakes

Anniversary dinner in MKE-Hinterland, Braise, or c1880?

For the 4th year running, my husband and I are heading to Milwaukee for our anniversary in late October. We are tempted to go back to Hinterland, which we LOVED last year, but I am wondering if anyone can make a case for either Braise or c1880 instead. From older threads it seems that c1880 has spotty service, has this improved? We are willing to deal with less than perfect service if the food is spectacular. Some words which describe our perfect menu would be local, seasonal, adventurous, and inventive. Our past dinners in Milwaukee include Roots (good but not really inventive, maybe because we had the Sunday dinner), Smyth (very good, but not transcendent), Sanford (sorry all, but we found it really underwhelming...some highlights but generally kind of bland and expected), and Hinterland, which was everything we could have wanted in a meal.

We will also be having a lunch/brunch and maybe a breakfast, too. We have always slept in and then gone to Comet Cafe, kind of a tradition of insane gluttony, but if anyone has any other places they think we should try instead, we are game!

Sep 27, 2013
kstaigs in Great Lakes

Solo in Sonoma (or possibly Healdsburg) in January

I tried to make a reservation at Auberge for lunch the other day and then blanched when I saw they needed a credit card to confirm. Now I am glad I didn't go through with it. I will check into Willow Grove and French Garden. We have more than our fair share of excellent sausage here in Chicago, so I think I will skip Yanni's, as good as it may be. I'll also look into the breakfast suggestions, dkenworthy, thanks!

I am heartbroken to report that Redd is closed for renovations the weekend I am there. I really had my heart set on that place. I made a reservation at Bouchon...I know people are saying it has gone downhill, but the menu looks lovely and not vastly overpriced and I freely admit to being swayed by the Keller connection and the Michelin star, pretentious or not. Not to mention the fact that it is less than 1/2 mile from our hotel and we won't need to be driving after a long day of tasting.

I don't know if it changes anything, but I am now going to be driving in and out of Oakland both on the Sonoma and Napa trips. I have no idea if it will make it a longer or shorter trip, but it means a free car...

Nov 28, 2012
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Solo in Sonoma (or possibly Healdsburg) in January

Thank you for your detailed replies, pamf and jaiko! I have made some more concrete plans since my original post and would love any input:

Flying in to SFO at 11:30am, probably grabbing something to eat at the airport before getting a car.

Drive straight to Arrowood for late afternoon tasting (possibly also Hanzell? Imagery and Valley of the Moon don't grab me and Robert Hunter seems to be out of my price range for a bottle, I would feel bad making a tasting appointment and not being able to purchase).

Back to check in (staying at the Best Western Sonoma Valley right off the plaza)

Walk to Ravenswood if time allows, or just wander Sonoma and taste a bit (recs for tasting rooms in town would be great!)

Happy hour oysters at Martini Oyster Bar.

Rest up or wander a bit more before reso at Cafe la Haye at 8:45pm. Just wondering, with all the great reviews of this place, why no Michelin attention?

Pass out cold, I assume.

Breakfast at the hotel, enjoy the morning in town, and then head out for lunch....where? Would I be crazy to drive over to Napa and have lunch at Auberge du Soleil? Is it worth the drive for a lunch, in you opinion(s)? Otherwise, probably the girl and the fig, or LaSalette.

Drive back (I need to meet up with friends late afternoon, so no tastings, I think).

As for Napa, I proposed Redd, Bouchon, Bistro Jeanty, Ad Hoc, and Terra to my friends, and I will let them pick between them. I am hoping for Redd, but I am not paying, so...

I am hoping to do a tour/tasting at Storybook in Calistoga on Monday. It is a favorite wine, do you all know anything about winery, what the experience would be like? I hate to drag my friends all the way up there and have it be a huge disappointment. I have yet to hone my list of wineries for our Napa leg, there are lots of great threads on that point so I won't rehash by asking!

By the way, in my defense, the Cyrus website is still up and seemed current, which is why I mentioned it. Sad to hear they closed, it certainly looked heavenly.

Nov 25, 2012
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Solo in Sonoma (or possibly Healdsburg) in January

Hello all, I have searched the boards and can't find much for a solo diner/taster in Sonoma. I will be flying in to SFO at noon and hope to drive up for an overnight stay on a Friday night in January. My ideal scenario would be to park and walk or bike for the evening, which is why I thought Sonoma near the plaza would work best, but I am also open to Healdsburg if it would be as walker friendly in your estimation(s). In Sonoma, LaSalette and the girl and the fig stand out to me, largely just from hearing them so often recommended on the boards, and because of their convenience. I don't think I can justify the cost of Cyrus, I am hoping to stay at or under $100 total with 1-2 glasses of wine. I eat anything and everything, but I would like to focus on regional fare. So I suppose my question is this: Am I on the right track with the above plan? Are there any restaurants in Healdsburg which I should be including in my list of maybes (Dry Creek, Madrona), and if so, is it possible to walk to a winery or two from there? Or are Guerneville or Bodega Bay worth a look (both Boon and Terrapin Creek's menu's look right up my alley). I am coming from Chicago, fyi, so we have out share of wonderful food, which is why I would love to enjoy local cuisine.

Also (while I am here), I am then coming back up with two friends for a night in Napa (Yountville) and we will be having a nice dinner and a lunch. I am thinking the same price point, around $100 pp for dinner, we need to be more casual for lunch. We can drive in this case. I have read that Bouchon has slipped, any thoughts? Several of the restaurants mentioned on the boards repeatedly include Bottega, Bistro Jeanty, Redd (that menu looks especially intriguing, I admit) and Terra. I would gladly welcome any opinions of these, or other Napa area places, for lunch and/or dinner! Thank you all!

Nov 24, 2012
kstaigs in San Francisco Bay Area

Quick visit with kids

We are staying in Arlington Thursday night, and at the airport Friday night (our flight leaves at 5:45am on Saturday...I know, brutal). Fort Worth Stockyards is top of my list, I will look at both the restaurants you mentioned. Our kids will try most anything and generally like Mexican as long as it isn't too spicy. I also know food trucks are a big thing there, we don't have those due to ridiculous regulations (although that may be changing soon), any that park in a particular area or that we should try to find? Maybe any that tend to be near a park for a picnic type scenario?

Nov 12, 2012
kstaigs in Dallas - Fort Worth

Quick visit with kids

Hello, we are coming from Chicago to Dallas for the Thanksgiving Cowboys game, and we are looking for lunch and dinner recs for Friday. The kicker: we will have our 6 and 2 year old daughters with us. They are lovely and well behaved, but we are looking for places with good, authentic Texas fare which will be comfortable, maybe even fun, for our kids. Chicago is a big food town so we are looking for Texas specialties: tex-mex, barbeque, and steak houses come to mind. Any thoughts? I have searched the boards but have found nothing geared toward families, please direct me if I am missing a thread. We are willing to drive, especially if there are kid friendly activities nearby...we are trying to avoid amusement parks and zoos in favor of more Texas specific things to see and do. Thanks!

Nov 11, 2012
kstaigs in Dallas - Fort Worth

Is Schwa still open?

I have a reservation for next week, which I made 2 weeks ago. So I sure hope it is open, it was as of the time I called and talked to a guy there. I called for 3 days every half hour or so between noon and six, when I succeeded it was a Thursday right at noon. I am prepared for the fact that they might cancel day of, which seems to be common, but hoping for the best!

Feb 20, 2012
kstaigs in Chicago Area