Wednesday, June 16, 2010

San Francisco: Gary Danko

A few months ago, I attended a conference in San Francisco, CA. It so happens that three blocks away from the conference venue was Gary Danko. This was the first restaurant I've been to where a code is required when confirming a reservation. That's only if you were lucky enough to call exactly two months prior to the day for a seat.

As soon as I arrived at SFO, I hopped into a cab and had the cab driver drive like a mad man to the hotel so I can change clothes and Louboutins for my dinner outing at Gary Danko. Yes, I'm one of those chicks that will walk three blocks uphill to a restaurant in 4.75 inch heels. Expensive food needs to be matched with sexy heels with red soles.

I arrived early but I was left waiting to be seated near my reservation time. The restaurant has no lobby so I stood by the bar which was packed with people (ouch! heels were burning from standing). Nice vibe, but I really don't like people hovering over me while I eat.

The small dining room was dressed with fresh florals and ornate charger plates. There was another seating area but I didn't have a chance to get a peek.

As I was seated, I was immediately served with warm whole wheat sourdough bread with sweet salted butter shaped like a waffle comb. I got a cocktail from the specialty cocktail list but I forgot what it was called.

The cheese cart which I chose to pass.

I had the option to customize a 3,4 or 5 course prix fixe menu. This concept is similar to the menu at Ken Frank's La Torque in Napa where you can mix and match various menu options. I selected 5 courses and skipped the cheese cart. I chose two starters instead.

Amuse Bouche: Salmon Fritter.
Starter: Seared Sonoma Foie Gras with caramelized red onions and apples.

Starter: Crispy Farm Egg with White Polenta, Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Frisee and Pancetta.

This was the best dish of the night and was recommended by my server. OMG, mmM look at that yolk oozing out from the crispy egg.

Fish & Seafood Main: Seared Sea Scallops with Butternut Squash Puree, Roasted Apples, Shallots and Red Pepper.

Meat Main: Seared Filet of Beef with Spaetzle, Butternut Squash, Crimini Mushrooms, Bone Marrow Butter and Shallot Marmalade.

Dessert: Warm Louisiana Butter Cake with Caramelized Apples, Huckleberry Compote and Vanilla Ice Cream.

If the dessert wasn't enough, I was given a second dessert. I looked at my server and gave him the "Are you crazy, I'm totally full" face. He responded with, "I feel your pain." He left the dessert on the table and smiled. Ouch! I should have worn a looser skirt.

I was so glad to see the tray of petit fours. The meal was finally over. The tray contained raspberry gelees, candied orange peel, lemon tarte, mini chocolate devils food cake, peanut brittle, boysenberry financier, coconut macaroon, and a tiramisu truffle. I was super full, but I couldn't finish the tray. I didn't want to waste any food so I had my server pack it up.

When I returned to my seat from the zen-like bathroom, the server placed a copy of the menu with Chef Gary Danko's signature in a black embossed folder and shimmery gold envelope. He read my mind.

Click to enlarge.

I was also given another parting gift which was a pumpkin cake.

Afterthoughts: One of the mains was ok so I can't give this place a full five stars. It's a solid 4 since the price point was right and you leave full. I mean, throw me in a wheel barrel and push me down the street full. Service was really good and not pretentious at all. I would say Gary Danko is a great entry-level fine dining experience.

Gary Danko
800 North Point at Hype
San Francisco, CA 94109
415.749.2060 ext.42


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