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Best-Designed Restaurant in SF? Looking at the Oldies But Goodies

Voting just kicked off for California Home+Design's latest reader poll: The Best-Designed Restaurant in SF. Readers nominated 23 spots around the city that they thought deserved the title, and now people are casting their votes on the site through January 30.

According to the nominations that I sorted through, the latest additions to the local dining scene are fresh in everyone’s minds, and may give some clues to who will take the title (25 Lusk, Bar Agricole, Benu). But to me, the best thing about this contest (and the ones that are coming up each month for the rest of the year) are that, in a culture obsessed with the newest things, there are some great reminders of the places that may not be new, but are none the less still worth some attention.

One such spot is Chez Spencer. Although the eight-year-old restaurant’s ambiance and heated outdoor patio had been lauded at length by both friends and strangers, I had actually never been. So seeing it nominated inspired a romantic, impromptu midweek dinner there last week with my husband. When we walked through the heavy door on 14th Street—across the absolutely toasty outdoor patio, flickering with candlelight and into the cathedral-like dining room with vaulted ceilings, skylights, sparingly placed taxidermy and a perfect row of personalized white dinner plates along the wall above the kitchen—I felt like I was discovering a perfectly kept secret. Granted, a secret that had been spilled eight years ago and that everybody already heard, but it was all news to me. 

 

Even better, when my husband sat down yesterday to cast his vote for our contest, he ended up clicking over to dozens of the candidate’s sites, salivating over menus and admiring well-designed dining rooms that we have yet to experience—and making a list of all the places we need to go in the next couple months (our top three: 1300 Fillmore, Bar Crudo and Credo).

And while you will never hear me complain about the fact that my work requires me to be up on the latest and greatest eateries around the state, always being on the lookout for the new can make staying true to the old a tough job. But somebody’s got to do it.

Cast your vote now! You can vote once a day until Sunday January 30.