SF: Gary Danko

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 6 of my Seven Michelin Star Restaurants in Seven Days series brings me a lot closer to home, back to the San Francisco Bay Area. On a trip back home in May 2012, I had a chance to visit Gary Danko, right by Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf.


Funny enough, I've actually never been to a Michelin Star restaurant in the Bay prior to dining here, so needless to say, I was pretty excited to see what all the hype was about. The menu at Gary Danko is very flexible in that you can choose to order a tasting of 3, 4 or 5 courses, but they don't control which part of the menu that you order from. So, you want 5 desserts for dinner? Go for it, no one is watching! 

The impressive menu selection of their 30+ dishes, mix and match!

Our party of four arrived here on a weeknight and went to town on the menu and ordered a total of 18 different dishes - one from each of the 4 categories, an extra meat/game birds entree to share, and the cheese course. 

With that said, are you ready to take a tour through Gary Danko's Menu? Let's start off with the Amuse, an asparagus and ramps soup which they strangely served us BEFORE we placed our order. This felt a bit rushed to me, but it wasn't a huge deterrent to my decision making ability. Also note how HUGE this amuse is, I'm used to tiny shot glasses of soup, so this was definitely a hint to portions to come...

Amuse bouche - Asparagus and Ramps soup

Appetizers

First off, I have to say that I'm really happy I was able to enjoy Gary Danko before the ban on foie gras in California on 7/1/2012. I definitely have a soft spot for perfectly seared foie gras and Gary Danko did this well, just as everyone and their mom said on the 3000+ yelp reviews for GD. So for those of you now who are reading this and can't order the foie gras, I'd say the Risotto with Lobster and Rock Shrimp was really delicious as well. And now revisiting the menu for this blog post, with my eyes glued to the foie gras on the menu, I happened to miss the Glazed Oysters with Osetra Caviar that was at the top of the menu. I'd definitely want to try that if I come back.

Seared Sonoma Foie Gras with Caramelized Red Onions and Apples - now BANNED from CA :(

Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Shimeji Mushrooms, Asparagus and Peas - RECOMMENDED**
Crispy Farm Egg with White Polenta, Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Frisee and Pancetta

Potato-Leek Soup with Creme Fraiche, Salmon-Crab Fritter and Bacon

Fish and Seafood

Alright, I'm going to be a bad food blogger here and tell you that honestly, I don't even recall what I ordered for this course, although intuition would tell me that for sure I probably ordered the Soft Shelled Crab, but was definitely debating the Maine Lobster. I only know that each of these dishes were well made, the sauces on it went well with the dish and I would gladly eat any of these dishes again. So, pick your poison, and just enjoy the food porn.

Seared Sea Scallops with Asparagus-Pea Puree, Pickled Radish, Spring Onions and Sauce Marechal

Roast Maine Lobster with Potato Puree, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Edamame and Tarragon

Striped Bass with Speck, Stinging Nettle Gnocchi, Morel Mushrooms, Asparagus, Capers and Meyer Lemon

Soft Shelled Crab with Bacon, Grits, Fava Beans and Roasted Chili

Meat and Game Birds

So there's a general theme to this blog post, it's that the meal didn't make a strong impression on me. It's not to say that everything wasn't delicious, because it was. However, it wasn't anything unexpected, so it's difficult for me to recommend one dish over another. At this point, it's all about personal preference - there was no "Oh I wish I ordered that instead" regret here. And, if you want to order an extra meat course of the table (like we did), do it, no one is judging you here. 

Quail Stuffed with Foie Gras, Mushrooms and Quinoa, Nettle Panisse, Spring Onions, Peas and Artichokes

Seared Filet of Beef with Yukon Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Roasted Pepper-Eggplant Marmalade and Soy-Mustard Glaze

Roasted Pork Belly and Tenderloin with Potato-Ramp Puree, Cauliflower, Roasted Peppers and Maple Cider Glaze

Juniper Crusted Bison with King Trumpet Mushrooms, Glazed Cipollini Onions and Herb Spaetzle

Lemon Pepper Duck Breast with Duck Hash, Green Garlic Puree and Roasted Grapes

Say Cheese!

One of the highlights of Gary Danko for any cheese lover is their impressive cart of cheese that they push around and allure you with. If you choose to order the cheese course, a cheese professional will come up to you and go through the different cheese as well as their flavors with you. They had a good variety of cheese, soft, hard, mild, stinky - you name it, they had it.

Although I'm not a cheese connoisseur, one member of our party spoke Cheese very fluently. After striking up a good conversation with our cheese server, he ended up scoring us another tasting of cheese! The cheese course usually comes with 4 cheeses, we had 5, woohoo!

The Cheese Cart siting idly on the side waiting to be consumed. 

Our course of cheeses, came with grapes and a fruity bread, but I kind of wish they served it with some preserves too

Desserts

Let's wrap up with some desserts. Same business as the 2 other categories, all tasted good, no particular standouts, except perhaps the beautiful presentation of the Chocolate Souffle that comes with 2 sauces. Just look at how fun it is as the server pours the two sauces into the perfectly baked souffle:

Baked Chocolate Souffle with Two Sauces

Lemon Souffle Cake with Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta and Raspberry Sorbet

Warm Louisiana Butter Cake with Apples, Huckleberry Sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Creme Fraiche Cheesecake with Caramelized Pecans, Rhubarb and Strawberry Sorbet

Petit Fours

So by the end of the meal, we were all stuffed. I mean, just look at those huge portions! Everything could have been a standalone entree, but of course we gladly cleaned the plate of each dish. But, similar to Gramercy Tavern in New York, Gary Danko is a really good crowd pleaser. All the dishes that you order will be at the very least decent, and most likely really delicious.

However, if you're looking for something new or surprising, you probably won't find it here. Gary Danko has found a good formula and has stuck to it. The menu remains relatively the same over the years. The dishes are all reminiscent of dishes you've had in the past at other restaurants, but now it's all on one menu and you get to order a 3-5 of those dishes at a time without feeling completely disgusting. Given the huge portions, the delicious offerings, and the relatively affordable price point for what you're getting, you won't leave unhappy.

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Gary Danko | Yelp

800 N Point St
San Francisco, CA 94109

(415) 749-2060

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