Monday, November 12, 2007

Seeing the Sights in SF

We spent most of our first full day in San Francisco seeing some of the touristy sights and hitting some great restaurants.

We started the day by heading to breakfast at the place ranked at the top of the city breakfast list in Zagat, the restaurant in the Campton Place hotel. When we saw the menu, we almost walked out because of the outrageous prices. However, we stayed, and didn't regret it.

I had the smoked salmon with bagel and cream cheese, and it was really good. Clearly superior salmon, no fishy aftertaste, and the bagel appeared to be homemade. Sheila had a waffle with pear, walnuts and whipped cream, which was outstanding too. Fortunately she didn't finish it, so I got around a quarter of it. We normally wouldn't spend 50 bucks on breakfast but this was worth it.
Next, we headed up to fisherman's wharf. We walked through the fresh fish markets, and trolled a few of the piers.
This is clearly a classic tourist trap, but we spent a half hour looking at the sea lions. They are really entertaining, and are alone worth the trip to the wharf. They reminded us of our cat Smedley, a massive cat who loves to flop around on his back the way the sea lions do.


Next, we went to the Ferry Building Marketplace. We went there because as fans of Anthony Bourdain and his TV show No Reservations, normally the first place he goes when he travels is to a local market to get the flavor of the place. No flavor here, lots of high end specialty food shops. Outrageous prices. We didn't stay long.

Next we headed to Chinatown, where we had planned to find someplace for dim sum for lunch. However, neither of us were prepared to walk in to sone place cold, as many of them looked a little shady. So we chickened out on the dim sum. Bourdain would not be proud of us.

We headed back downtown towards our hotel to find someplace to watch the Giants-Cowboys game. As a big Giants fan being able to see this game was important, and Sheila had agreed to set a little vacation time aside for the game. We ended up watching it at Lefty O'Doul's, an ancient watering hole with a cafeteria style buffet. I started going through the buffet, but chickened out. A little scary. But a nice, friendly place.

We ended up going to a place next door called the "Daily Grill"for lunch. Apparently a chain restaurant, and we ate at the bar. Food was ok, but bartender was extremely surly. I had a burger, Sheila had a tuna melt. Nothing memorable. Bartender should work at the DMV with that kind of attitude.

Since we had several drinks during the day, we went back to the room for some rest before dinner.

Dinner was the highlight of our day. We went to Frascati's on the recommendation of Brendan Burek of Transformer BBQ, who used to live in SF. The restaurant is in a quiet, mostly residential neighborhood right on the cable car line. We got there around 20 minutes early, and they were able to seat us immediately. Our table was upstairs, overlooking the kitchen below and the rest of the restaurant.

We started with an Artisanal cheese plate, which came with a cow's milk brie, a cave aged French roquefort, a Spanish Urgelia and a French goat cheese. Was a great start.

Next, we shared a Italian sausage risotto, which we both agreed was the best risotto we have ever had.
For dinner, I had filet mignon with a potato lasagna, mushrooms and root vegetables, and a red wine sauce. The beef was perfectly cooked, and the entire plate was delicious. Sheila had a half chicken with lemon oregano jus. I've never tasted chicken so moist.

We finished with a black and white chocolate bread pudding with hazelnut ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauces. I refused to finish this because I was so stuffed, but after such a great meal I wanted to at least try their dessert.

Thanks to Brendan for this recommendation. The rest of the dinners on our trip will probably not match up to this one.

Today, we are heading to Alcatraz in the morning, and the rest of the day is wide open. We had originally planned to go to Memphis Minnie's for BBQ lunch, and to Tommasso's for dinner, but it turns out both are closed Mondays. We should have hit Memphis Minnie's Sunday for lunch, because now we may not get there at all. We're going to try and hit it as we drive out of town Tuesday.

We have decided not to go to Gary Danko or the French Laundry, which are both highly regarded, but extremely expensive. Both got uneven reviews on Zagat, so we decided to turn our attention elsewhere. Lunch we will probably wing it today, and dinner stil is up in the air, but I'm sure we will find someplace nice.
For more San Francisco pictures click HERE.


Brendan said...

Glad you guys liked the restaurant, that place was a secret favorite of ours. Not sure what they do to the risotto there, might have some crack or something in it...

MM isn't that big a deal, but I'd stop in tomasso's if you were in the area. We used to live two blocks from there... unbelievable pizza.


Ted Lorson said...

We ended up going to Memphis Minnie's after all and had a great visit. I'll be posting about that in the next day or so. Thanks again for the recommendation, really was a great place. We almost went back again Monday, because everyplace we wanted to go was closed Mondays.