Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Recent Experience at Gary Danko in San Francisco

On my recent visit to San Francisco I stayed in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood for a change of pace. My second night there we finished business late and decided to walk the couple of blocks to Gary Danko. It was a Monday night just after 7:00 PM, but the restaurant was full except for a few seats at the 11 seat bar located immediately inside the door. Rather than wait until 8:30 PM for a table we chose to dine at the bar.

The bar is a unique stainless steel topped beauty that fit the décor very well. One bartender behind the bar served those of us sitting there as well as providing all cocktails for the 75 seat restaurant. I was impressed with his service and professionalism while keeping up with his variety of duties. There were additional staff that assisted by bringing food out to diners at the bar.

Choices for dinner were a five course Truffle Tasting Menu, ala carte or multi course options (3 Courses $68 - 4 Courses $85 - 5 Courses $102) from the main menu. We went with the three course option and ordered a bottle of Bandol, Château de Pibaron 2009, a beautiful Rhone Rosé.

Our first courses were the Dungeness Crab Salad with Grapefruit, Couscous, Fennel, Mint and Yuzu and the Seared Sonoma Foie Gras with Caramelized Red Onions and Apples. The Crab was served atop the Couscous with a fresh sprig of watercress over it. The flavors were delicate together and highlighted the fresh crab meat. The only issue was that the entire plate was smeared from one of the staff trying to wipe it down prior to being served. Sonoma foie gras is my second favorite foie gras and was deliciously cooked to perfection. The caramelized onions and apples presented savory and sweet notes against the fat of the foie gras. Loved it!

The second courses were again appetizer sized yet contained plenty. We chose the Coconut Thai Curry with Lemongrass, Calamari, Lobster, Scallions and Shiitake Mushrooms and the Pan Seared Tuna with Couscous, Chermoula, Fennel, Olives and Saffron-Orange Emulsion. The curry dish offered a touch of spice enhancing the seafood within the bowl. Not mentioned were fresh mussels as well. The calamari worried me when it was ordered but again I should have trusted the Chef from the start! This dish was a true highlight and one of the best curry dishes that I have tried in some time. The tuna was pleasant although it lacked the animated components from the curry selection. The olives were a tad strong and slightly overpowered the refreshing taste of the tuna.

Our entrées were Lemon Pepper Duck Breast with Duck Hash, Celery Root-Garlic Purée and Cardamom Poached Pears and Roasted Pork Belly and Tenderloin with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Parsnip Purée and Maple-Cider Glaze. The duck was my favorite for the evening! I savored this course, enjoying the individual as well as the combined flavors that were entwined within it. The pork was almost as good and truly there were no deficiencies I merely liked the duck more.

The menu is small and several ingredients were repeated several times but I did not feel that I lacked choices. I commend the staff, both in the kitchen and the dining room, for a remarkable experience. This is a must for dining in San Francisco.

The award-winning restaurant has a Five Star rating from Mobil as well as a Relais & Chateau designation.

Contact information:
For more information or to make a reservation, call (415) 749-2060 or review the website at

Gary Danko on Urbanspoon

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