RANGE turned out to be a great choice for the work dinner. They were running a bit behind, so they seated us 1/2 hour after our reservation. But, they comped us a drink at the bar. Great mixology here: I had the "Flourish", a gin-based drink with asti and peach bitters. One of my DCs had a mojito, which looked well-prepared, and someone else had the "Hemingway", a rum-based cocktail with maraschino liquer and lime juice (fresh lime juice, not that Rose's crap). All excellent. For appetizers, I had the chicken liver mousse, and two DCs both had the soup. Can't remember what the fourth had. All good, but wait! Not only did they comp us our first round for running late with the reservation, they brought out the goat-cheese pasta appetizer as well, again on the house! And, WOW what a perfect mix of flavors!! I regretted not ordering that for myself. Seriously, go there NOW and order it before they change the menu. For the entree, I spied a halibut dish with artichokes, so of course I got that. The fish was perfectly prepared, and had a nice tapenade on top; just know it is a bit salty, if you're salt-averse. The bass also got rave reviews, but the guy who got the pork said it was the best he had ever had. Strawberry shortcake for desert was nice and fresh.
The conference I was in was held at the Ritz, and for Friday they had a dim sum spread which was good. Good idea, too: dim sum works well for a buffet type lunch.
Friday night I managed to get a bar stool at the SLANTED DOOR. The fried shallots they put on top of the yellow tail totally made that dish! I was in San Francisco after all, so I ordered dungenoss crab soup--nice aroma. I was not crazy about the imperial spring rolls; I thought they would have a very lightly fried wrapper, but they didn't. So, it was more of an expectation thing. I also had the spicy Chinese spinach: good.
I stopped by FRISSON, where a friend of a friend used to work. There are some excellent bartenders who know what they're doing here. I had a pomegranate manhattan, which had orange bitters and cynar!! With such a wacky blend of ingredients, I had to get it. Based on that, if I lived in SF, I would definitely be going back to try the other cocktails. Zack, I believe he is the head bartender, definitely knows what he's doing. A new friend also insisted I split an order of the sashimi with her; I don't know if "marinade" is the correct word for what you do to raw fish, but the "marinade" was very flavorful and complemented the fish well. Unfortunately, my memory for details starts getting fuzzy at this point. :)
Saturday, I had originally planned to go to Gold Mountain for dim sum, but since Friday was full of Asian food, including more-than-passable dim sum at lunch, I figured I'd move away from that. Ended up at CANTEEN at Sutter and Jones. Great coffee here. Had the eggs benedict. This is a simple dish, but also very easy to mess up. Canteen nailed it: eggs perfectly runny (at least my preference), hollandaise nice and light. Worth the cholesterol hit. Would definitely like to try the place for dinner too, but.... I had to leave. (Big mistake, food-wise, extending my California trip to San Diego.)