- Crispy Farm Egg with White Polenta, Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Frisée and Pancetta
- Horseradish Crusted Salmon Medallion with Dilled Cucumbers and Mustard Sauce
- Seared Filet of Beef with Bacon-Potato "Risotto", Cassis-Shallot Marmalade and Stilton Butter
- Baked Chocolate Soufflé with Two Sauces
- Pineapple Flambé
- Dessert Medley
Food Rating: 8.5/10
Overall Rating: 9.5/10
Date Visited: February 14, 2012
Price: $89 per person
Hailed as one of the best restaurants in San Francisco, Gary Danko certainly did not disappoint and has earned its stripes as a 2012 Michelin Star venue. I made reservations 2 months in advance at exactly 11 AM when they opened for a spot on Valentine’s Day. After a few busy tones, I got on the phone with the reservationist. There were only 2 choices left after the influx of calls – 4:30 PM or 9:30 PM – so I took the earlier time. Although the restaurant is normally open from 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM, they were holding special hours specifically for Valentine’s. Side note: the picture on the left was snapped as our waiter was preparing the off-menu dessert Pineapple Flambé right behind us. Flambé is a cooking procedure of adding alcohol to a hot pan to create flames.
Fisherman’s Wharf is an area of San Francisco where parking is near impossible outside of paid garages. Fortunately, Gary Danko has a $11 valet service, which is a fairly small percentage considering your total bill at the end of the night. The moment we walked into the restaurant, we felt very welcomed. All the servers were very professional, wearing a full black and white suit and ready to help with your every need. Because it was only 4:30 PM, we were sat down on a corner table with no other patrons directly next to us. There was only 1 other elderly couple in the entire half of our dining area as we thoroughly enjoyed our 3 hour dining experience.
Everything was set perfectly for a special Valentine’s day dinner with a romantic and elegant feel and sophisticated ambiance. We took a picture outside in front of the Gary Danko sign before placing our orders. Since it was both our first times at Gary Danko, we decided to stick with the suggested Valentine’s Day Prix Fixe menu, which consisted of 4 courses:
1) Crispy Farm Egg with White Polenta, Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Frisée and Pancetta
2) Horseradish Crusted Salmon Medallion with Dilled Cucumbers and Mustard Sauce
3) Seared Filet of Beef with Bacon-Potato “Risotto”, Cassis-Shallot Marmalade and Stilton Butter
4) Baked Chocolate Soufflé with Two Sauces.
We substituted one of the Baked Chocolate Soufflé for a Pineapple Flambé after the elderly couple suggested it to us. And who doesn’t want to see flames burst into the air? We decided to opt out of the wine pairing since I had a bottle of wine prepared for an event later in the evening.
Before we even start with our set course, the maitre d’ brings out a free appetizer. It was a great way to kick off our savory journey. And for subsequent courses, the maitre d’ did an excellent job explaining each dish.
Surprisingly, the first course of the night turned out to be my favorite. It was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted previously. It was fun poking into the crispy egg shell and watching the yolk dribble onto the frisée. The polenta paired perfectly with the other ingredients in the dish. I’m a huge fan of mushrooms so having that on the plate was an added bonus.
After such a delightful 1st course, the salmon medallion continued to pique my interest. The salmon had a very strong fish smell, which was counteracted by the spicy mustard sauce, giving this dish a well-deserved kick. Hate it or love it, I was indifferent to the crusted bread that laid on top of the salmon. I did, however, love the dilled cucumbers buried underneath, which gave the palate a sense of freshness.
After 2 amazing courses, the filet was a disappointment. It was dry and tough to eat, not to mention it wasn’t as flavorful as it could have been. When I come back to Gary Danko, I will definitely opt for another entrée option such as the pork belly or lobster.
The soufflé was pure excellence that was light and had the right amount of sweetness. Chocolate sauces were poured into the soufflé when it arrived. A quick tip: eat the soufflé as soon as you can or it will become mushy.
As previously stated, we substituted one of the desserts for the Pineapple Flambé after a tip from our neighbors. It was prepared table side (see first pic of the bursting flames) and our server described each step in the preparation of the dish. I’m glad that we opted for the substitution; it was sinfully delicious for lack of a better phrase! The dessert was truly something I’ve never tasted before.
Gary Danko sure knows how to put a smile on your face. Unbeknownst to us, the maitre d’ brought us a plate of bite-sized delicacies. We took half a bite of each and shared everything.
The final pieces to an almost perfect dinner experience – a signed menu by Gary Danko himself and a stalk of rose with a box of chocolates. These little things are what makes an experience memorable. I will treasure the menu forever, which serves as a reminder of my first time at Gary Danko on Valentine’s Day February 14, 2012.
“Within months of opening, the restaurant received the highest accolades possible from both San Francisco daily newspapers, a spectacular listing in Esquire Magazine’s (December 1999) annual “Best New Restaurants” article, and the first of three Mobil Travel Guide “Five Star” ratings. In May of 2000, GARY DANKO won the James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” award, and in August of that year Danko was named Chef of the Year by San Francisco Magazine. In January of 2002, the restaurant was selected as a Relais & Chateau property, one of only eighteen such dining venues on the continent. Later the same year, Danko was nominated as Outstanding Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.”
- Excerpt from the Gary Danko Website.
1) If you’re trying to make a Valentine’s reservation, do it 2 months in advance.
2) Valet parking is available right outside for $11.
3) Ask for the Flambé, which is prepared tableside. If you’re substituting from a prix fixe menu, it will cost extra.
Yelp Review: http://www.yelp.com/biz/gary-danko-san-francisco
4.5 out of 5 stars. 2,900+ reviews.
800 N Point St
San Francisco, CA 94109 (map)
Tel: (415) 749-2060
Mon-Sun 5:30 pm – 10 pm