Monday, December 28, 2015

Gary Danko - San Francisco

5/5 stars

I was SO excited about my dinner here that I (A) told anybody who would listen that I was going for my bday and (B) planned the bf and I's decadent 8-course meal out in advance.

Five-star service: it was like watching a well-choreographed march and bonus: they were 100% polite and professional, but still approachable and super friendly.

Five-star wine list: the sommelier was so down-to-earth and knowledgeable, she was able to recommend a red for the bf and a gewurzt for me after just hearing us describe a couple words of what we were looking for. I loved that she wasn't intimidating to talk to and it was really fun going through the list and wondering about the $10,000 bottles ...

Now on to the meal!

* The champagne was like liquid gold on my tongue and the amuse bouche was a butternut squash soup with duck rillettes: it was velvety smooth, perfectly seasoned, and mouth-watering - I kind of wish I had ordered a whole bowl of it (which you can do)! That's the thing about soups, it's all about the stock & the garnishes and it's something that often times gets overlooked when out at a restaurant. But if you want a celebration of flavors and something that will warm your heart, order the soup next time you're at Gary Danko's or at a restaurant like Gary Danko's - it's worth it because you (A) can't easily make this soup at home and (B) can't get soup this good at any ol' restaurant.

* Roast main lobster with potato puree, chanterelles, edamme beans, and tarragon: I knew even before I took my first bite that it was going to be the best dish of the night - the lobster was cooked rare, which didn't bother me (even though I don't like sashimi). It ensured that the sweet, Maine meat was the focus. But, the potato puree almost stole the show. It was the best mashed potatoes I've ever had - the delicate texture, the intense flavor ... yum. If you want to order one of the many lobster dishes on the menu, I highly suggest this one.

* White Winter root/vegetable soup: Like I said before, ALWAYS ORDER THE SOUP!

* Seared Sonoma foie gras with caramelized red onions and fuji apples: This was a real mouth treat. The bf had never had foie gras before so I'm glad that he was able to experience some of the best foie gras he will ever eat. It was art, eating this foie gras. It was seared so that your fork met the slightest of crunch, but then melted instantly when placed on your tongue. The onions were caramelized perfectly and the fuji apples were a nice contrast in both flavor and texture to the foie gras. This and the soups tied for second favorite dish of the night.

* Seared filet of beef with potato gratin, roasted eggplant-pepper marmalade and soy-mustard: Unfortunately, not only was this the least favorite dish of the night, but the least favorite steak of my dining career (thus far). I guess I've been spoiled by Alexander's and House of Prime Rib. This steak was mostly dry (even though I asked for it to be cooked medium) and the eggplant-pepper marmalade's flavor (it was slightly curried) did not compliment the steak well at all.

* Venison: Wasn't on the regular menu, but my bf was pleased to trade in the planned duck entree for the venison. It was way too game-y for me, but he raved that it was the best venison he's ever had in his life (his family are hunters so he knows a thing or two about meats like that). I figure, if you're going to order venison or boar or quail, Gary Danko's is the place to do it!

* Cheese cart: I've never been one to order the cheese plate, but was told by a friend who used to work at Gary Danko that THIS is what Gary Danko is known for. So I did and I had SO much fun doing it. I love being given choices and the cart had about 16 different cheeses (cow, sheep, and goat). Our waitress went over each and every single one - explaining what sort of flavor we should expect. I let the bf pick 1 blue called the Roaring 40s - he loved it, said it was unlike any blue he's ever had. We also got a delicious cheddar called Mimolette that tasted just like butterscotch (my favorite of the four), a creamy cow cheese that boasted 80% butterfat called Brillat Savarin (way too rich, the least favorite), and a hard sheep cheese called Petit Agour (sort of tasted like parmesan). The cheeses were served with raisin bread and grapes.

* Apple tarte tatin with calvados cream napoleon and honey ice cream: the desserts almost, ALMOST, out-shined the dinner. The half-a-deck-of-cards sized tarte tasted like it was made with an entire stick of butter and I'm not saying that in a bad way. It was delicious. The honey ice cream was a winner.

* Trio of creme brulee with cookies: hands-down, three of the very best. The pumpkin was very special, the chocolate was sweetened just right, and the vanilla was pure and silky. The layer of sugar on top was thicker than normal and added a fantastic crunch. I think the type of sugar they used really made the difference.

In a mouthful: Gary Danko is top-notch.


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