Yesterday I had dinner at Gary Danko. By 7:00PM all the tables were full with four empty seats at the bar. I was able to get a 5:30 reservation with two days notice promising that we would be gone by 7:30 (which we were). Danko's was excellent as it has been on previous visits. (The cheese course with eppouise, St. Agur, Roaring 40's and Pierre Robert 75% triple creme is a reminder of just how good this overlooked course in America can be. Danko's must be as good as any restaurant in the country.)
That afternoon we spent a great deal of time walking and driving around downtown San Francisco including Fisherman's Wharf. It was comparatively empty with very few tourists and much lighter traffic than I remember from many earlier visits. Hotels are offering significant in season discounts that were not available a year ago. Fisherman's Wharf seemed like a comparative ghost town. It was actually shocking how few people were around at what should be the peak of the tourist season.
What has happened?
A cab driver told me that between 9/11 and the dot com melt down that the city is going through really tough times. Is this true? It certainly appeared to be.
On a related note, if this is true is it still difficult to get into the French Laundry without reserving in the first couple of hours two months in advance? Has this loosened up some what?