A business dinner at the new Bourbon Steak in the St. Francis Hotel left me quite confused. They bill themselves as "a modern American Steakhouse tailored to the San Francisco dining audience". What I now know is that evidently the San Francisco dining public craves bar food, very expensive and expertly prepared bar food.
French Fries 3 ways with 3 sauces : 3 small cups of excellent fries coated in various subtle flavorings such as parsley or black pepper alongside 3 small ramekins of sauces that tasted of ketchup, mustard and aioli (complimentary?)
Pop Corn with black truffle butter: A generous handful of popcorn with chive/truffle flavored melted butter. ($15, yep, for popcorn)
Potato Skins: 2 half potatoes filled with a spoonful of braised shredded beef and a cheese sauce. ($14)
Lobster Corndogs: a half dozen finger sized lobster sausages on toothpicks, breaded and fried with a dipping sauce. ($16)
Chicken wings: 6-8 drumettes with a spicy red marinade and some shaved vegetables in the center of a large bowl smeared with a spicy red sauce. ($15)
All of these appetizers were really good, but seemed more like big budget stoner cuisine than high end hotel food (no Prop 19 jokes, please).
The steaks were all top quality meat, cooked as requested and served in minimalist glory (other than the ubiquitous smear/wipe of green or red sauce on the plate. The meat starts at $39 and goes up to if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it.
The numerous service staff hover around, swooping in at the slightest sign of need to refold a napkin, remove an empty dish or refill a glass.
The decor is newly updated with simple wood tables, heavy utensils and applique-like window treatments that look as if they could come down in an afternoon if this new concept does not work out. The background music, 80's rock (Steve Miller Band!) seems to fit the general plan here.
I take away from the experience an understanding that the Michael Mina empire feels that San Francisco wants high priced/high quality comfort food that will not challenge diners in any way other than financial. Oh, and dipping sauces. Everybody here loves dipping sauces.
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