What makes a good date-night restaurant? With the holidays in the rearview and Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it feels like a good time to ask.
Is it the food? Or is the ambience the main thing? Does your date require Michelin-starred service with a multicourse tasting menu? Or would a divey neighborhood haunt feel more romantic? I’d argue that, with the right person, any place can make a great date night spot … with a few caveats.
Whether it’s your first date or your 50th, I suggest thinking twice before going the fancy, 12-course tasting menu route. Inevitably, you’ll be too full and inebriated by the end of the meal to do anything, apart from pass out in your bed.
On the opposite end of the dining spectrum, I do love the idea of hitting up my favorite taqueria for a low-key date night. But let’s be honest, making out with burrito breath is not ideal. You want to be strategic about these things.
Enter 7 Adams, which, for me, is a happy medium.
Appropriately enough, the force behind the 2-month-old Fillmore District restaurant is husband-and-wife duo David Fisher and Serena Chow Fisher. The pair met while cooking together in fine-dining restaurants in New York before migrating to California and eventually opening their dream spot.
The Fishers’ beloved pandemic-born Marlena in Bernal Heights—an homage to David Fisher’s restaurateur mother—earned a Michelin star before the chef duo departed the restaurant earlier this year.
A nod to Fisher’s childhood address, 7 Adams has maintained the same accessible-but-elegant formula and menu format, offering a relatively affordable five-course tasting menu for $87. David is in charge of all things savory, and Serena oversees the desserts.
“I don’t like to focus too much on one thing,” David Fisher said. “I like to try new things and give people options so they can select their own experience.”
Maybe that’s why 7 Adams is so fun. You and your date can order the entire menu and share bites from each other’s plates—it feels like you’re in it together, like you’re both working toward accomplishing some great gastronomic goal. And, of course, there are few things more intimate than sharing food. If you can’t eat off each other’s plates, you might be with the wrong person.
The seasonal menu at 7 Adams changes often, about every two weeks. The first two courses are small plates—maybe a kampachi crudo in a sesame dashi followed by charred broccoli with a gribiche sauce one week, a blow-torched scallop seasoned with hazelnut oil before a squash soup with a wagyu fat vinaigrette the next.
Pastas—which also come in a variety of shapes and sets—are the third course, and here is where the choose-your-own-adventure theme kicks in. If you order the tagliatelle with a rich ragù of braised lamb topped with thinly shaved matsutake, your date can get fluffy ricotta gnudi with chestnuts and parmesan (and an optional shaving of truffles tableside if you’re feeling fancy), and the two of you can swap plates halfway through.
The mains offer choices as well: crispy-skinned seared black cod served with a shellfish broth poured tableside or sliced chicken breast served with a chicken wing stuffed with chicken sausage covered in buffalo sauce (a nod to David’s upstate New York upbringing). Like the rest of the menu, these also change frequently, but there is usually an ultra-rich A5 wagyu ribeye supplement with bone marrow sauce spooned tableside, and that’s a PFG move to share with your beloved.
Serena Chow Fisher’s desserts are also PFG. She cut her teeth at New York’s Eleven Madison Park and was named Esquire’s Pastry Chef of the Year in 2021, so you’ll want to save room for dessert and order both options.
“The hallmarks of a great dessert for me are crunchy, creamy, and delicious,” said Chow Fisher. “My goal is to start off with something nostalgic and do a play on it.”
Take the opera cake, for example, a classic French chocolatey multilayered sponge cake that’s typically soaked in coffee syrup. Serena instead soaks hers in hojicha (an earthy roasted Japanese green tea), as a nod to the restaurant’s proximity to Japantown. Coins of compressed pear add texture and contrast.
Or consider her spiced apple cake, which incorporates Chinese five-spice in lieu of the expected cinnamon and is served alongside bay leaf ice cream and garnished with micro celery.
“I like adding all these herby flavor profiles that people don’t normally associate with dessert,” she said.
Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco-based writer & cookie dough professional. Find him on Instagram.
️🗓 Mondays-Thursdays | 5:30-9 p.m.
Fridays-Saturdays | 5-10 p.m.
Sundays | 5-9 p.m.
📍 1963 Sutter St., San Francisco