Curious about the 6-month transition from Valencia Street to Gramercy Towers, we left the flatlands of the outer neighborhood for the climb to Nob Hill for a table at Watergate. With $7 valet parking in the Jones Street garage below, the new location at 1177 California St. between Taylor and Jones proves to be a welcomed change. There is some confusion when confronted with a bank of doors through the garage to the elevator, but the restaurant offers elegance and gracious comfort. Table 26 is a perfect view of the theatre of cooking stations from appetizers to grill. A line of booths faces the cooking line with other tables arranged for privacy in the spacious setting, ideal for any 8+group birthday. Windows are an open view to California Street and Grace Cathedral where an after-dinner walk through the courtyard labyrinth is reflective and mind-calming in the evening air.
Chef Liang offers a 3-course prix fixe, $33 or, $27 without dessert. Service is excellent and the kitchen is perfectly tuned. The plates are finely balanced with artful flavors and the cooking has tightened up since its beginnings on Valencia.
Petites Assiettes $8
Seared Day Boat Scallops - with black truffle and a goat cheese mashed potato and celeriac sauce, the scallops were perfectly seared and our favorite appetizer of the evening
Warm Lobster Martini -$5 supplement, continues to be a pleasing standard with mouthfulls of sweet lobster meat atop mashed potato and Jasmine Pearl sauce with hints of orange zest and oyster.
Ahi Carpaccio - this is pretty in pink! ahi bordered with the finely beaded tobiko was a jewel set with avocado and a tomato basil oil and crispy potato threads
Grandes Assiettes $19
Grilled Herb Filet Mignon - a meltingly medium-rare as requested, hearty with a Roquefort pecan wonton, baby spinach and roasted shallots in a Bordelaise sauce
Grilled Wild Sturgeon - a meaty firm-fleshed fish, crusty and moist, touched with a fennel coulis and chili oil with a puree of sweet butternut squash, and rappini with a curried endive. The curried endive was the one note that was baffling with a too-bitter stringiness edged with curry. I wondered if the sturgeon was caught in the Delta or under the Golden Gate Bridge, a favorite among those who fishand, those who eat fish.
Tiger Prawn Mousse Crusted Seabass - a symphony of artichoke, asparagus, and spinach with mussel/Chardonnay sauce
Passion Fruit Tart-a lovely sweet strewn with fresh berries and a delectable coconut sorbet. The house-made sorbets are the favorites.
Lavender Vanilla Creme Brulee -a generous portion for sharing with your soulmate, delicate in its silkiness.
2001 Lirac - a light-bodied, soft red wine with good fruit, well-matched to meat/fish