800 N Point St
San Francisco, CA 94109(415) 749-2060
Years ago, planning a short San Francisco vacation, I failed to lock down that impossible French Laundry reservation. Looking for another high end restaurant, I was drawn to Gary Danko. Back then, however, there were no yelp pictures, no saturation of bloggers; all I had was a Zagat guide and it was rated a 29. That was all the convincing I needed and it ended up being one the best meals to date. I remember a couple things about the experience. One, the waiter said just go with what you like because everything was good and that was the case. Two, the menu design is one of the best I have ever seen. It can best be described as a prix fixe menu where you can order anything you want. Choose between three and five courses and any permutation you can dream up. You can order one from each section. Three starters, cheese and a dessert. Try five entrees if you if dare. I just love the flexibility it gives you and really lends to a better dining experience for the guest.
On this trip, we decided to take Friday off and head to San Francisco earlier, which meant an additional dinner. Coi was fully booked and Chez Panisse would have meant all three dinners would be out of the city. Gary Danko was able to fit us in at 9PM, so that made the choice easy.
Being that I held Gary Danko in very high regard, we both opted for the five course dinner to get a full range of the chefs' talent. The price point has gone up over the years, but I still find it a good value at $102.
A classic preparation of foie gras and executed very well. The caramelized onions were sweetened to perfection and provided a balanced contrast to the dish. One of the best dishes of the night.
The dishes started out strong. The risotto was one that we eyed on Yelp and knew we would order it. It didn't disappoint; I love how the creamy risotto lent itself to the tender crustaceans. It was offset by a light dollop of minced roasted tomatoes.
This was where the quality of the dishes took a turn for the worse. The contrast in texture between the soft poached egg and a crisp fry on the outside was absent. I had high hopes for the polenta and pancetta. But the other components didn't add the needed punch.
I've always been impressed by how good restaurants achieved a crispy skin on fish and still maintained tender meat. It's something that still challenges me when I cook at home. The branzini was a great example of this skill. The remaining components were decent, but not addictive.
The scallop and sauce preparation reminded me of dish that was acceptable in the 1990's. The accompanying flavors were blurry and masked the dish rather elevate the protein.
I'd like to say this was a glorified meat and potatoes dish, but the flavors and preparation was very outdated. It's a safe dish, one to please the masses with limited inspiration. However, it doesn't showcase Chef Danko's talent.
The first of two dishes that had messy presentations and the fifth dish with mushrooms. Keeping in mind, we were only on course seven at this point. I love well prepared sweetbreads, but even with the pistachio crust it was mushy. The veal didn't fare much better. The mushiness must have spread to both proteins. A poorly conceived dish all together.
Besides the presentation, I wasn't fond of the pork belly preparation. What I like about a good piece of pork belly is a crisp exterior and an oozing fat layer leading into succulent meat. Here, it was cut very thin, laid on its side and the distinction between fat and meat was unapparent.
A dish that came heavily recommended by our server and perhaps his only misstep in a very well orchestrated evening. The duck was very tender, but lacked a strong sauce to hold up to the duck's natural flavor. I'm not a big fan of hash, so it would had to of been a play on words for me to really enjoy the accompaniment.
I ordered the signature souffle last time I dined at the restaurant. It has been on the menu for as long as I can remember; it might have actually been included with the lease and for good reason. It's consistently prepared well and the quality of the chocolate really shines though. I'm all for avant-garde and innovative plates. But, when you can take a classic dish and elevate it past the ubiquitous fluff, I'm game.