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“Wonderful food and service, a memorable experience”
Review of La Folie

La Folie
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Ranked #270 of 5,693 Restaurants in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $100 - $150
Cuisines: American, French, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Business meetings, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighborhood: Russian Hill
Cross street: Union & Green Streets
Transit: 19 Polk, get off on Polk and Green street. 49 Van Ness, get off on Union and walk one block East to Polk street
Dunedin, New Zealand
Level Contributor
148 reviews
46 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 132 helpful votes
“Wonderful food and service, a memorable experience”
Reviewed June 28, 2013

La Folie's food was excellent, but the service and ambience pushed this dining experience to the top. We felt at ease the minute we walked though the door. They welcomed us graciously, as if we were treasured longtime customers, instead of first-timers. Wait staff were unhurried, personable, took time to explain and listen, seemed genuinely friendly, without being unctuous, patronizingly chatty or artificially interested.

Even though the restaurant offers fine dining, it retains the small-scale intimate feel of an elegant, romantic neighborhood restaurant.

I went for the five-course dinner. What impressed me most of all was that each dish consisted of a creative combination of contrasting and/or complementary flavors and textures, stunningly presented. For instance, my first course, the Dungeness Crab Salad consisted of succulent moist chunks of crab sandwiched between two thin and crisp yellow curry tuiles. All of this rested on a base of creamy yet firm English pea panna cotta. The dish was fresh and delicate, its flavors subtly pronounced. The crab was the star, the English pea and yellow curry flavors were discernible yet did not overwhelm the crab. It was a strong start to the meal.

As you can select more than one item from every category except the pountry/meat group, I followed this starter with two seafood courses: "Seared Day Boat Scallop and Sautéed Sweetbreads, Morel Mushrooms, Almond Pistou,Truffle Bacon Vinaigrette" and "Pan Roasted Black Cod, Smoked Mussel stuffed Squash Blossom, Fennel-Saffron Sauce." This was the first time I'd ever tasted squash blossoms stuffed with smoked mussels. Loved it. The fennel-saffron sauce was delightful counterpart.

My final savory dish was "Rôti of Quail and Squab stuffed with Wild Mushrooms, Wrapped in Crispy Potato Strings, Truffled Jus." I savored every bite. The presentation and aroma were so enticing, our neighbors couldn't help but ask what dish I had ordered so that they could order the same. The dungeness crab salad and the quail and squab were overall my favorite dishes. The savory courses started and ended on a high.

I had the "Valrhona Caraibe Chocolate Mousse, Beet Sponge Cake, Lychee-White Chocolate Macaroon, Hibiscus Sorbet" for dessert. A pastry chef seated at an adjacent table couldn't resist asking what I had ordered. The dessert choices were all tempting, it was hard to pick just one.

My husband ordered three courses: "Lobster and Mushroom Risotto (with shavings of white truffle)"; the Black Cod; and "Roasted Emigh Farm Lamb Chop with Butter Beans, Fava Bean and Goat Cheese Puree, Smoked Lamb Bacon" He was particularly impressed with the generous serving of lamb (which was perfectly done)--and, as we live in New Zealand, my husband isn't easily impressed by lamb preparations. He also loved the risotto, which he found just al dente enough (though he found the truffle too mild).

We enjoyed our meal with a bottle of Scharffenberger Brut Rose. The restaurant will waive the corkage fee if you also purchase a bottle of wine, so for our poultry/meat courses we popped open a Pinot Noir that we brought along.

I noticed some reviewers here and on other sites compare La Folie to Gary Danko and the latter often wins out. We also ate at Gary Danko a few days after dining at La Folie, and found the food of equal standard to La Folie, although I found the flavor combinations of La Folie more imaginative and the particular dishes I ordered more complex at La Folie. In advance of dining at both restaurants, I studied the reviews here, which probably saved me from ordering dishes that might have disappointed.

We had a beautiful time at La Folie. Oddly, when we lived in Marin for 23 years, we never ate here. We feared trying to find parking in this neighborhood, but the restaurant offers valet parking for $15. Worth it. When we next visit San Francisco, we will definitely try to return to La Folie.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank PassarinhoAzul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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357 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    260
    53
    25
    7
    12
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Ventura, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Sybaritic 5 Course Dinner for Two”
Reviewed June 24, 2013

22 years in white tablecloth hospitality (now I'm a CPA) and Roland Passot continues to amaze and delight me whenever I have the opportunity to dine in his formal (and now informal offshoot right next door) dining room cast in the classic "you are an honored guest" tradition.
Informed staff, a chef who is in the kitchen (not TV studio) 6 nights a week invites superlatives. The techniques employed to form the potato basket holding the fried quail egg, sous vide the duck tongues, gelee' the mango, all thrilling!

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Mike E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brighton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
24 reviews
22 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Impeccable service, incredible food”
Reviewed June 24, 2013

What an experience this was to say the least, we had heard good reviews about La Folie whilst in San Francisco but had heard that it was often overpriced, although we were far from thinking this was the case.

The service we received, extraordinarily knowledgeable staff and exquisite food made sure we had a great evening.

The at first daunting menu is explained very well and led to us making choices for dishes my partner and I might not have otherwise gone for, the menu we were pleased to see was also very flexible, being able to swap different courses (for example two appetizers) or even bringing across items from the tasting menu for a small supplement

The tasting of passot roe and outstanding miyazaki wagyu beef were wonderful highlights, (if at all put off by the $75 supplement, cast this thought aside as the experience of eating this rare and high end beef is unparalleled in taste).

We were also very surprised with the generous portion sizes and by dessert were wondering how we could possibly eat anymore, but we did!

I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting or living in the bay area.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Jasont84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Derbyshire, England
Level Contributor
46 reviews
21 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Delicious food brilliantly presented with excellent service”
Reviewed June 18, 2013

I was convinced to go here instead of Gary Danko by comments on another website, and I am so glad that I went here. We had the three course dinner which came with about 5 other small items brought to us between courses and at the beginning and end of our meal. I'm glad we went in May as the Huckleberry Bake Alaska was available and delicious.
What really impressed this finicky eater was that I ate things with gusto that normally I wouldn't touch with a barge pole (the amuse bouche type dishes where I had no choice as to what I got). When a chef can do that you know it's beyond good.
Although a Michelin star restaurant it felt relaxed and we didn't feel out of place while casually dressed, something I appreciate when travelling.
The chef spoke to both my wife and me as we passed the kitchen on the way to the restrooms, again making us feel very welcome and showing the interest of the chef in his customers.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank DougWeller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
56 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Very good food, excellent service but not quite five star for me”
Reviewed June 2, 2013

We dined at La Folie while visiting friends in San Francisco. The food was very good: I had the rabbit for my main course which was delicious, albeit it was a huge serving.

Service was perfectly judged: friendly and informative without being intrusive or obsequious.

While there was nothing wrong with the meal I am not sure I would rush back. Perhaps I found the experience a little rich - that is to be expected I suppose - but for the same budget I think there are other restaurants that are that little bit better.

So for me a very solid 4 star experience and I was not disappointed but not quite in the five star league.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Cymro29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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