Arranged to have a quick lunch with a friend at the Terrace in the Ritz-Carlton hotel this afternoon. I thought that the place would be more busy either with business lunches or with tourists (especially this weekend) but for the most part it stayed roughly a quarter occupied the whole time.
For starters, if you there for a meal, valet is your easiest (and probably only) parking option and is $12. But if you're going to expense the whole thing it probably doesn't matter. The lobby area is subdued and quiet, and a helpful employee directed me to the elevators to take the down to the 2nd floor. Yeah, so technically the ground floor is the 4th floor.
The room is a typical, nice looking hotel dining room, with options to eat outside. Today had beautiful weather, but I didn't see anyone eating outside. When I entered the room at noon there were only three tables occupied. One 4+ topper was occupied by business types muttering about investment capital as they dug into their salads. One table was at the far end of the room. The other table, my friend was sitting there waiting for me, as I was already running 15 minutes late and she needed to finish some things back in the office so a lingering lunch wouldn't be possible.
The menu pages from today are linked below.
They still have their spring lunch tasting menu which is a relative bargain, but looked relatively uninteresting and safe.
We quickly decided on sharing their scallops on flat bread (basically a thin crust pizza-type dish), her getting the risotto with duck confit, and me with the sea bass. A runner had a selection of olive and french loaves which were soft, as was the butter (a small detail but who likes ice hard butter?)
Not long after they brought out all our dishes (we had requested this to speed up our blitz meal). The scallops were tender, but I would have preferred them cooked just a tad less. The rest of the ingredients on the flat bread weren't very distinguishable and I had forgotten what they were until I glanced at the menu later. My sea bass, had a very nice crispy skin exterior and was cooked well, at that fine balance of moist and firm. There was a red raisin demi-glace type sauce with a vegetable (looked like the tender leafy section of Chinese broccoli or gai-lan) and sliced baby carrots. The fish rested on a bed of sauted endives. I could have done without the endives which didn't seem to do anything for the dish aside from being a pedestal for the fish to rest on. The risotto with duck confit was pretty good, but if you don't care about dieting, I'd prefer the much richer tasting risotto at Gary Dankos. You could probably do a side-by-side comparison as the risotto at the Terrace allows you to choose what type of meat to add, and lobster meat was an option. I only had a small forkful of the risotto but it seemed prepared well, while one time at Gary Danko there were some "crunchy" risotto kernels, which can be distracting and annoying.
We got a tiramisu to go;the waiter was apologetic that the tiramisu would not hold its form if we put it to-go boxes, even though I told him it didn't matter. Eventually we accrued 4 small wine-bottle sized bags. One for my friend's left over risotto, one for the leftover "scallop pizza", one for the tiramisu, and the last for the biscotti. Later on when I looked into the tiramisu bag, it turns out they put it into a coffee papercup and lid to help maintain its verticality. A nice thinking touch to our request.
Service overall was smooth, calm and professional. If I were to be picky, there were some small, small things like refilling water glasses from the wrong side of the diners or the bread basket only coming once to our table. Overall, good marks.
Paid the bill and left in about an hour. By the time we were leaving three more tables had been seated, most of them "touristy" looking. Dress codes can be tricky in a nice hotel. Business types will always be dressed biz casual at the very least, and most of the time suits. While vacationers tend dress in jeans, tshirts, or a Tommy Bahama shirt. Combine both categories in the Terrace and thats what you'll probably see when you go there. I remember seeing a family in tshirts, shorts and caps eating dinner at the Silks at the Mandarin, but they seemed to be treated just as well as anyone other guest and the family seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.
Verdict? Will I go back? Maybe for lunch. Probably not on my own dime. There plenty of better dining values in the city. But if you are looking for a business meeting/lunch type place, the Terrace would be perfect.
600 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
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