Gary Danko, San Francisco CA

For our final meal in San Francisco, we wanted to go out with a bang — we did at Gary Danko. A bit further from our hotel, we hopped in a cab and arrived on time only to find that our table wasn’t ready. Since we were on the laid-back West Coast, not “make-it-happen-right-now” NY, we waited at the bar. It actually turned out to be a good thing as I asked the bartender to make me a drink with Scotch and Cherry Herring, my two favorites. He came up with a delicious concoction which also included a variation of Sweet Vermouth. Lucky for the restaurant, his drink almost made up for the 20 minute wait for our reserved table.

When we finally sat down, we were handed the menus which offered a 3, 4 or 5 course meal. Being that Joel and I are small people, we didn’t go through with the 5 course.

Our meal started out right with a Lobster and Fennel Bisque as well a favorite of Joel’s, Foie Gras. My bisque was delicious — savory with a hint of anise and a sweetness from the lobster. Joel thoroughly enjoyed his local Foie Gras which melted in his mouth (as it should!).

Our second out of three courses was made up of Joel’s Risotto with Lobster and Rock Shrimp and my Branzini with stinging nettle gnocci. The risotto was fantastic. The lobster shined and the grains were cooked perfectly. My Branzini flaked delicately away from its crispy skin and melded well with the creamy nettle gnocci.

After all of that fish, it was on to our third course — meat. Joel had an incredible Corriander Crusted Bison which was cooked to perfection and really satisfied. I never pass up a Lamb Loin and it was served tonight alongside a Braised Lamb Shoulder. The shoulder was cooked well, but the gamey flavor didn’t sit well with me. The loin was great — unless it’s overcooked, it’s hard to mess up lamb loin.

At this point Joel and I were full up to our throats but I made room for another course that I never pass up —the infamous cheese cart. After a long explanation of the plethora of cheeses that Gary Danko supplied, I chose my three. However, much to my chagrin, there was only one local cheese to be had, from The Cowgirl Creamery. I did try it and it was great, but the clear winner was the Quickes Cheddar from the UK. It tasted of the fields that the cows grazed on. It was simply amazing.

Great drinks and cheddar’s aside, the service was spotty and the wait for a reserved table perturbed me a bit. However, the food did make up for it. I have to say though, if I was to spend that much on dinner again in San Francisco, I’d head to Farrallon or The Slanted Door.

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