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On 8/20/2005 at 0:28 PM, ustreetguy said:

Heading to San Francisco next weekend for a friend's b-day. Dinners are already set at the Cortez [Purchased by Ron Silberstein in 2008, Closed Aug 10, 2009], at the Hotel Adagio and at Lemongrass. Can anyone recommend anything I need to order at these places? I'll also have Sunday evening to myself so is there a not miss restaurant open on Sunday night for someone who just plans on ordering at the bar?

In the "for what it's worth category" Zagat gives Gary Danko a food rating of 29 and the French Laundry 28 in its 2005 guide reversing the food ratings from earlier years. This is the link:

"Gary Danko" on zagat.com

Danko is considered by a number of people to be San Francisco's best restaurant. It is open on Sunday night and yes, there are a handful of bar seats which you can have dinner served at. Typically Danko has a two month wait for reservations so the bar seats will fill up literally within minutes of when the restaurant opens at 5:30. But you will have a shot.

This is Danko's website.

In the fall of 2001 I wrote a lengthy piece about an experience I had sitting at Danko's bar:

This is an extraordinary restaurant that you may want to give serious consideration to.

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Danko is a great restaurant, but the likelihood of getting in at this short a notice is nil.

I will chime in for Gary Danko too. I had a solo Sunday meal at the bar last year and it was wonderful. Service was excellent and if you are looking for something not to miss then this is it. They also pour wines by the half glass, which I was happy to find.

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crazeegirl said:
Money is not an issue...cheap or expensive...good food is all I care about.

No car. This weekend starting Thursday. Union Square.

Thanks.

I called Gary Danko yesterday to see if there were any last minute cancellations...no luck. I am thinking about dining at the bar.

Good luck! You should be all right if you get there 15 minutes before opening.

---

Fleur de Lys (Pool Boy)

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We found our experience not as good as it could have been.

But don't take it from me, especially since I'm someone you've never interacted with.  My taste is unknown to you.  It's a long way of saying that I'll let my pictures speak for themselves.

We arrived early, and they didn't seat us until 50 minutes later, 20 minutes past our reservation time. When I asked what was taking so long, I was told "Well, you arrived early." That's not the point -- we had a reservation time of 9 pm and it's now 9:20 -- does everyone who comes here get seated late? Strike #1.  Furthermore, we were seated at the bar and no staff came by to alert us; I had to get up to go speak to the host.

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"Thai soup" -- while it reminded me of tom kha gai and hit all the right flavor notes, I was asking myself why are we eating pseudo-Thai food in this restaurant? 

Not exactly an auspicious beginning. Strike #2 was that it took nearly 5 minutes *after* being seated before we received the menus, and when they brought us the menus, they also brought us the first amuse-bouche. It felt like a weird combination of: (1) we're being rushed and (2) we're being punished.

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Buckwheat blini, salmon, osetra caviar.

Well-made blini -- perfect, actually. Like butter-flavored clouds.

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Seared foie gras, caramelized onion, poached rhubarb.

Plating doesn't exactly inspire confidence, a theme you will see repeatedly throughout. Was prepared well though from what little I tasted.

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Figs, arugula, fennel, Gorgonzola cheese.

Average salad, nothing special.

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Seared scallops, morels, English peas, Madeira.

Excellent, from the bite or two I stole off of B's plate.

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Lamb loin with farroto, Medjool dates, carrots and chermoula.

The lamb was well-cooked. The plating sucked, the sauce was oversalted (basically, if you can taste it, it's too much), and the accompaniments slapdash.  At this point, I was starting to become irritated. This is a restaurant that is supposed to be in the vanguard of San Francisco dining and for the prices that are being charged, it everything should feel like perfection from the moment you step inside to when you depart.

This was not it.

Also, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is it with all the square plates?

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Cheese cart.

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Sauternes.

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Louisiana butter cake, peaches, huckleberry compote, vanilla ice cream.

Amateurish plating. Cake itself was "fine". Maybe I ordered wrong.

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Flourless chocolate birthday cake.

I suppose it might have been a good restaurant -- in 2005.  Oh, how the mighty are fallen.

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Note that Gary Danko currently allows corkage. Their policy is $50 per bottle, with a limit of two bottles per party, or $95 per magnum, with a limit of one magnum per party.

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I have one dinner in SF.  One.  I will have flown in the night before and still be on DC time.  The only time I can get into Gary Danko is at 9:30 pm.  Is it worth doing it even if I'm going to be exhausted?  

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I haven't eaten there for about a decade but it was my favorite SF restaurant in the mid-aughts (I feel old). Can you go at open and snag a seat at the bar? It's a wonderful bar for solo dining and I think you can order from the full menu, but a la carte if you wish (which I don't believe is an option in the regular part of the restaurant). If not, that's AWFULLY late to eat while you're still on DC time. Personally, I wouldn't enjoy it no matter how wonderful the meal so would pick somewhere that you can get in earlier.

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I'm going to preface my comments about Gary Danko with  this:  my flight to SF out of IAD was cancelled and the rebooked flight out of DCA was delayed FOUR hours.  By the time I was in the hotel it was 4 am for body clock.   I slept a good 5 hours and then was up and working for the next 10 hours.  Good times.  So I wasn't at my best!

It was a very good meal.  Was it the best meal I've ever had?  No.  It did not match Citrus in L.A. in 1996 or Citronelle in 2004, 2006, 2006 or 2009.  Or Eleven Madison Park on Election Night 2008.  Or the Church in Stratford in the 2000s.  Is it the best thing I've had this decade?  Probably but I don't get out much anymore...

I started with an amuse buche of parsnip soup.  I had the Brandy French 75 to drink.  Next up was the poached egg carbanara, which was the  winner of the evening.  Perfect and just the right size.  The scallops with the butternut fondue was done nicely but it was not special at all.  The ousseline pork with salsify, Brussels sprouts and other tiny chopped vegetables was all good--I'm a sucker for anything with salsify in it.  It was probably a slightly larger pork portion than needed. The souffle was a tad underdone but that was my fault--I managed to lightly tap my water glass against the plate and it shattered.  They redid it but the timing was a bit off.  That was my only disappointment of the evening. 

I'm glad I made the effort to go. I would have regretted not going and nothing near my hotel appealed to me in the least.  But it wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be.

 

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