“Upscale” or “Fine” dining is one of the biggest misnomers in San Francisco. “Upscale” or “fine” hardly refers to the ambiance or quality of food. As in many other things around, “upscale” mostly refers to the more superficial aspects of the dining – the decor, the kind of people it attracts or markets itself to, the kind of social buzz it generates through marketing and how modern or “slick” it feels.
Regretfully, I find over and over that for the most part these upscale restaurants that claim to serve the finest of the cusines disappoint in that department. The food is usually bland, greasy, and overpriced. Glass walls and doors don’t make the food any better and make the whole place feel … cold and sterile. Wearing a suit while eating doesn’t make the dishes any more flavorful, and having a wine menu on i-pads certainly doesn’t contribute to the ambiance either.
I can imagine that going on a date to an upscale restaurant is almost counterproductive to developing connection and intimacy unless making fun of douchebags and their female counterparts is a way to connect on a cynical level (which is not necessary a bad start). On the contrary, these establishments feel cold, isolating, overly formal for no reason, and thus create distance between people rather than bringing them closer together. Some would say that that kind of environment is good for business dining or for expressing appreciation to clients, but who said that people who discuss business or express appreciation for each other’s business have to settle for mediocre, unhealthy, heavy food that leaves an aftertaste of oil and cholesterol?
It’s as rare to find a restaurant in San Francisco, where its inside (the food) matches the outside (the decor), as it is rare to find a person who is as attractive on the inside as he/she is attractive on the outside. As someone who knows very little about running a restaurant, this leads me to a conclusion that making a tasty food, which you want to come back to over and over is much harder than investing a lot of money into a great interious design.