Wednesday Food: Dining out in San Francisco Pt. 2

Last week, we visited some of our favorite cheaper restaurants in San Francisco, and this week we'll go to a few of the higher end ones.  Fortunate for us, when you work in the industry, it's hard to go out and not know at least one person working in the kitchen.  There was a pretty tight knit community of restaurant workers and it seemed to not take long for us to get to know a lot of people.

Because we had gone to the CIA and San Francisco is such a food lovers destination, many of our fellow grads had also made the trek to the left coast.  I also ended up working with many CIA externs and meeting more grads as they steadily came out to the city by the bay. That always made me feel like alittle bit of New York was still around me.  It gave me some comfort while adjusting to the new city.
If we went out for a drink after work one night and a co-worker brought a friend from another restaurant, thus began the six degrees of separation in the restaurant community.  It probably didn't even need six degrees......more like 2-3.   Sometimes we would go out and see other friends and they would join us, and meet our co-workers.  While I'm sure there wasn't always good feelings between everyone, from what I experienced, everybody seemed like family and it was great for networking. 

Now, I can't talk about going out to restaurants without talking about one I worked for.  Whenever I had family or friends visit, they always wanted to eat at the restaurant I worked at, Farallon.  The food was spectacular, the interior design was out of this world, and the staff and my pastry chef treated me VERY well when we dined there.  Farallon served up some of the finest seafood and coastal cuisine in a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea setting.  The interior of the restaurant alone is amazing; renovated from a 1924 indoor pool in the historic Elk's building, it now houses the restaurant, Kensington Park Hotel, and Post Street Theater.  Best to see in person!  Boasting to be the big fish of seafood restaurants, for me, dessert was always my favorite.  Executive Pastry Chef Emily Luchetti has a great philosophy when it comes to the last course...simple, fresh and ridiculously delicious! 

Another favorite that Eric and I went to with friends was Delfina.  An Italian restaurant that had a much more casual, easy-breezy feel, but still is what I would consider an upscale establishment.  The menu is set up in a classic Italian style; Antipasto (salad), Primo course (pastas), Secondi course (meat, game or fish).  They had a yummy appetizer which was a hot Salt Cod "dip" (for lack of a better word), with housemade cracker bread.  Anytime we went, it was a must-have.  The salt cod would melt in your mouth and the cracker bread was so fresh and crisp!  Their pastas are fresh and house-made, and the dishes are simple, elegant with attention to fresh, local produce.  Delfina's signature dessert is their panna cotta, and it is legendary.  It was light, slightly tart, and creamy smooth beyond belief!  You have NEVER had panna cotta like this and you'll remember it forever.

A funny thing to note about panna cotta.  In San Francisco, I worked in three restaurants, and at some point panna cotta was on all the dessert menus.  It was a regular thing to find on any menu.  When I moved on to Boston, and placed it on my own dessert menu, (not to mention different recipes of panna cotta depending on what I was pairing it with), my chef was dumbfounded.  He didn't really get why I would put it on the menu, or what the big deal was.  But one day, one of the waiters commented on how a customer was loving the panna cotta, and said it was the best he's had since he left San Francisco.  I felt so proud, and after that - my chef stopped bugging me about my menu selections!

There are many amazing restaurants in the SF area and even though I got to eat at a few of them, I wish I could remember exactly everything I ate on those occasions.  I had friends who worked at Hawthorne Lane, which was a great, off the beaten path restaurant (which apparently has been replaced by a bar & grill by the same owner).  Eric had the very fortunate chance to eat at Gary Danko, which if you know anything about restaurants, it is a mecca for many in and out of the food business!  We dined at a very unique restaurant called Foreign Cinema, which is not only known for its wonderful food, but also the classic movies they would project onto a brick wall on their patio area.  Zuni Cafe was another one I ate at a couple of times, and it will never let you down! 

Mind you, this was a few years ago and I'm sure new exciting places have popped up everywhere.  But these were a few of my fun memories of my time in a different city, on a different coast that made a huge difference in my life.  I hope you all enjoyed this lovely trip down memory lane.  I enjoyed thinking back to all the people I knew, the places we went, and how I can't wait to get back there someday!  We'll see!

See you next week when we get back to cooking!


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