The Dining Room - I need to preface that we did not order the 9 course tasting / wine-paired menu so highly recommended. I might be at a divorce attorney's office right now had I insisted, so... I ordered the 6 course pre-set & my husband, the 3 course. There was a $300 White Truffle 6 course, but that would have landed me at the attorney's too. The restaurant was full (with surprisingly many, thankfully, well-behaved children!) I thought the room beautiful & enjoyed dressing up (& the short trip upstairs to our room!) I asked for a foie gras substitution for the squab course & the waiter was very gracious - not a problem at all. Service, in general, was very good - esp. from the support staff. I had the champagne ($22, but no mention made of the cost - I looked it up on the wine list), while my husband enjoyed a martini. Had brief attention from the sommelier after we ordered a $70 Mersault - probably branding ourselves as cheapskates. He brought it, opened & left it, as we were still finishing our pre-dinner drinks, never to return. It was very good, though. First 'gift,' a teeny cup of porcini-celeriac soup - boring. 2nd gift - one bite of mackerel on a gelee, which beautifully cut the oily mackerel's taste - good combination, but not super-exciting or delicious. Flagged a waiter down to pour our wine, then waited.... My first course, 2 small bites of very fresh & tasty ahi, with a rather dull chopped veg topping/sauce. My husband's - the crab sald, which was a mold of basically pure shredded crab, with very little else going for it. I asked for some Maldon sea salt (which is listed as an ingredient on several menu items - I wasn't trying to be difficult!) to kick it up a bit & had a salt shaker & pepper mill rather unceremoniously dropped on the table. At this point, a rather loud man across the room started complaining that they'd been there for 2 hours & had only had 2 appetizers & he'd eaten in the finest restaurants in the world & blah blah blah. The staff seemed to handle it well, once they got him to pipe down, but all of a sudden, we realized we'd been there almost 1 1/2 hours with only one app, 4 entire bites of food for me & started to commiserate. At this point, my husband had eaten 3 of the almost unchewable rolls & I quietly asked our waiter to please speed it up a little - I had 5 courses to go. His response was, well, you should have told me that sooner - this is a tasting menu & this is how it is served. I wanted to reply that we'd had 29 courses at El Bulli in under 3 hours & were never bored for a moment. Sitting 30 - 45 minutes between courses of teeny bites when you are hungry is not fun. They did do a good & much appreciated job of offering my husband a surprise plate with each of my unmatched by his 3 course menu plates arrived, except for the foie gras, which he was offered a plate to share. No way!! Actually he doesn't care that much for it & knows how much I do, so there was no fight. This was the only dish that stood out as being truly delicious, but still not super-exciting. The lobster course was good, but unmemorable. My husband claimed his lamb delicious & it looked great - unfortunately I was not fast enough (he was really hungry at that point!) & only got a taste of the well-done end. When he asked about it before ordering, we got a lecture on only ordering it rare or medium rare & he would accept no other requests. Husband always orders it med rare, but this was a little insulting. My veau was just ok - not too much flavor going for it. The waiter suggested substituting dessert & I had a nice caramel crunch cake/pudding with milk chocolate ice cream. Husband had the pear tart, which was surprisingly cold, but ok. Many mignardises (sp?) bought out & I liked the teeny lemon merengue tart the best. Lady next to us had the shrimp, which looked very good. Very few seemed to be doing the 9 course - only the one angry table & most the 3 course. I know I didn't do this the way it was strongly suggested on this board, but still expect the 6 course to be more interesting & paced better. They really need to speed things up a bit or at least offer the option. $354 & an unhappy husband & somewhat disappointed self.
Zuni Cafe - Walked up Market here from the Ritz - not recommended - one guy threw up right as we walked by & another purposely ran into me & made me fear I was about to get robbed or mugged at 1pm in the afternoon. Charming hostess, fun restaurant, expensive for call vodka, but good balsamic Bloody Marys. Small fruits de mer platter @ $24 was wonderful - 6 excellent oysters, 4 clams, 2 prawns, one crawfish & many periwinkles - closed my eyes & thought I was at Mont St. Michel. Opened them and, oh well... Tasty matchstick potatoes & we split a hamburger with heirloom tomatoes & melted roquefort. Asked for it medium & it definitely was done almost blood rare, but still very delicious. I would switch out the focaccia bread bun, though - too soft & falling apart. They called a taxi for the ride home & we enjoyed our lunch.
Pesce - Wow! Italian Club concierge atthe Ritz said he loved it, but had never had a guest request, so you guys made me look good in his eyes! I love the Russion Hill area & on the Sat before Halloween, it was quite happening. We had a table reserved, but immediately decided we wanted to eat at the bar & the very friendly hostess offered us a nice Italian chardonnay while waiting & 2 seats opened up fairly quickly at 8:15pm. Owner (I believe)/bartender was great & we had a blast talking to other patrons, who were all amazed to see tourists in there & told us we should have gone to Gary Danko (!) or La Folie the night before. Oh well... Oysters were fresh meaty & delicious, caesar salad (husband always orders - has an addiction) was ok - I'm not a big anchovy person, so the anchovy spread on the toast wasn't real popular. My carpacchio al tonno was huge & very good, the petrale sole the hit of the evening - just absolutely delicioso, lady next to us gave me tastes of her mascarpone gnocchi (to die for!) & scalloped scallops, which were among the best ever. I had to order the pork on polenta with bacon (thankfully, he let us order a 1/2 bowl of this!) - it was good, but at that point I'd had enough & I'm forgetting some dishes. I missed the Alle Testiere similarities - it reminded me of a more casual Italian version of a.o.c. in LA, but we totally loved it & wish we could eat there every week! Thanks so much for the recommendation!!!
I improvised fresh Cowgirl Creamery ricotta with walnuts in lemon honey spooned over stood in for lunch the next day after a late breakfast & we waddled back to the airport very full & extremely happy, with the exception of Friday night. 3 out of 4 isn't bad!