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Industry Pros 

Industry Pros Weigh In

Wednesday, Aug 29 2001
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The staff at Dish took to the streets to find out what the folks in the trenches--on the front lines and in back kitchens of restaurants all over the city--think about the San Francisco dining scene.

Our survey includes input from chefs, waiters, managers, owners, bartenders, caterers, and hosts, from Suppenkuche to the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton. In a food-obsessed town like this, there was naturally a lot of interesting feedback. We also gave our industry professionals a chance to sound off and let diners know about current trends, and even their pet peeves. Here's what they had to say:

Favorite venerable restaurant

Tadich Grill
Sam's Grill
Swan Oyster Depot
House of Prime Rib
(other votes went to Alioto's and Alfred's)

Trendiest spot

Bacar
Delfina
Gary Danko
(Backflip, Asia de Cuba, Butter, Charlie's)

Most romantic

Fleur de Lys
La Folie
Da Flora
(Jardiniere, Brazenhead, Carnelian Room, Jianna, Luisa's)

Best place for a quick bite

Golden Boy
Pasta Pomodoro
Zao
(Chow, Tu Lan, Rose's Café)

Most decadent meal

Fifth Floor
Aqua
(Fringale, Azie, Café Kati, Brazenhead)

Single best meal ever

Masa's
Boulevard
Ritz Carlton Dining Room
(Hawthorne Lane, French Laundry, Eos, Firenze by Night)

Best healthy meal

Greens
Herbivore
Zuni
(Citrus Club, Millennium, Pluto's, Juicey Lucy, Villa Restaurant)

Best place to take out-of-town guests

House of Nanking
Zuni
Plouf
(Khan Toke, Enrico's)

After work spot for cocktails

No consensus reached here--apparently the pros drink all over the city. Responses included Bix, Fulton St., Globe, JohnFrank, O'Reilly's, Café Du Nord, Little City, Charlie's, and Sadie's Flying Elephant.

Best Mom & Pop (small, casual, family-owned)

Tommy's Mexican Restaurant

Da Flora
Cafe Aroma

(Cobalt Tavern, Sweetie's, Sodini's, Suppenkuche)

Hidden gem

No one place emerged. Votes went to Café Vino, Chapeau!, Isa, Street, Jianna, Da Flora, Emma, Brazenhead, Pastis, Maharani, Burma Superstar, Villa Restaurant

Favorite restaurant/bar personality

Votes included Frank Colla (Gino & Carlo's), Big Mike at the Holding Company, Mike D. at Tony Nik's, everyone at Swan, the staff at JohnFrank, Neil Riofski at Capp's, Antone Sabella, Seamus Coyle, Johnny Love, Bruno from Zam Zam Room (RIP)

Trends

- The proliferation of the noodle bar
- Small plates
- Eating at the bar
- Healthy and organic ingredients
- Lots of show, little substance
- Better presentations and food combinations
- More value conscious restaurants
- Upscale comfort food
Messages to Bay Area diners

- Please turn your cell phone ringers off and take the call outside
- Arrive on time
- Show up or cancel--no-shows really hurt a small business
- Treat your server kindly, don't penalize the waiter if the food is slow or bad
- Tip well--take care of the service industry that takes care of you
A number of respondents simply wanted to tell you to relax, enjoy yourself, and keep coming out--"we'd love to have you."

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