Ive just returned from the better part of a week in SF and, as always, I am overwhelmed by the dining experience. I took my wife and fairly sophisticated 13 year old to all of these. Heres an abbreviated run-down:
Sanraku 4 seasons (Sutter) (Thurs. lunch): I end up going here because it seems to be the best sushi within a short walk of the hotel. It doesnt get much play on this board, and while Im sure some of the others Ive read about here are truly spectacular, the fish here is very good and I get good fresh tuna frequently from sportfishing buds. Jr. had a nice bento box with 3 California rolls, teriyaki chicken, salmon, seaweed salad, garden salad and miso for $7.75, IIRC. Ate very bit.
Zarzuela (Thurs.) Like the tourists we are, we had to ride the cable car which added to the whole experience. We had 7 small plates. The winner: surprisingly, garlic fries. Great waiter. If we lived out there, wed go frequently. I had slightly amusing moment when sitting on the street waiting for a table, a drunken patron came out the door and fell on me. No autopsy, no problem.
Boulevard (Fri.) They both had a filet mignon it was fine, but not revelatory. On the other hand, I had the pork loin with sausage which was spectacular. There were two kinds of sausage and the loin was not dry at all, which is a problem for my usual grill preparation. I also had the tomato/mozzarella salad and the heirloom tomatoes were great, but the cheese was only merely good. Ive been before, but it is amazing that this place was completely full at 6 p.m. But, for a dining experience that is this well-executed, isnt the restroom situation a little odd?
Farmers Market (Sat.) Thanks to this board, I had to go by the Ferry Building market it made me wish I had a kitchen available. I sampled several heirloom tomatoes outstanding. I hope this project will be successful in the long run its a treasure.
Hayes St. Grill (Sat. night) The outstanding item was the shrimp/corn/salsa/tortilla appetizer. We all had fish (halibut or tuna) and fries. As promised, those are good fries. Like a tourist, I had to buy a signed copy of the (Unterman guide) book.
Trattoria Contadina (Sun. night) I felt like we had to work in the North Beach scene, and couldnt bear a Stinking Rose outing which, btw, another conventioneer lambasted to me later. We sat upstairs which was regrettably warm. I had another mozzarella/tomato salad and the cheese was great, and the tomato was merely good. The red pepper vegetarian ravioli was a little too spicy for my taste, even for this dish. I had a fish special, which I cant exactly describe or name, which was great: a kind of chunky tomato marinara, but with heavy basil, I think. Overall, however, this was a good choice in the category.
Slanted Door (Mon. night) We had Slanted Door spring rolls (with the shrimp caught in the wrapper) and vegetarian imperial rolls wow. I wouldnt have known what to order without this board: chicken claypot (interesting, not what I expected) and shaking beef (lemony dipping sauce was incredible). Ive been in a lot of restaurants, but this one was truly memorable.
I looked for the new Ebisu at SFO, but couldnt immediately find it, which was just as well when the line to get through security took way too long.
Totally subjective three best items: Slanted Door imperial roll, Hayes street shrimp/salsa appetizer, and heirloom tomatoes.
Of these, Boulevard and Sanraku were the only ones Id been to before. I relied very heavily on this board for guidance on these choices, especially Stanley Stephan's tip sheet. I tried to get a well-rounded group of restaurants lined up, especially since this was my 13 year olds first visit. (Needless to say, he loved it.)
So, I want to thank the SF board denizens for making me look like Mr. In-the-know with the family on these choices and invite yall to visit us on the South Board when youre in our neighborhood.