Observations on Food in the Bay Area
website - The restaurant at the Pan Pacific Hotel in San Francisco, at Post and Mason. The interior of the hotel is quite attractive, with a great vaulted space in the center all the way up to the roof, with glass elevators floating up and down a central column providing interior access to the surrounding rooms. The restaurant is completely integrated into the hotel, adjacent to a very artistic fountain with sculptures of frolicking people. It was very quiet, and there were hardly any other people there, but is attractively appointed and provides a pleasant, reasonably romantic location. SF's Dine About Town provided the perfect excuse to give it a try!
The wine list, especially for a reasonably fancy restaurant, was suprisingly short, and certainly didn't have a selection of reasonably priced bottles. As I recall, the cheapest selection was around $50. I elected to get a dry riesling by the glass, for about $9. Handily, it turned out to be quite nice, with a rich, sweet aroma but a very dry flavor and matched both the salad and the salmon quite well.
On to dinner...
Mixed salad - this was quite a nice salad, of a very reasonable size, of varying greens all of which were quite fresh and flavorful, with small cherry tomatoes and a light vinaigrette. Refreshing and leafy - everything that could be asked of a basic salad.
- Crispy Skin Pacific King Salmon - served with sauteed veggies, pickled onion strings, au gratin potatos, and a fascinating sauce I never did find out what was, but appeared to be something of a red wine vinegar reduction, which was fruity yet slightly acidic and very tasty. The salmon was perfect - couldn't have been cooked any better. Perfectly tender, and simply flaked apart with no effort at the merest touch of a fork. Fantastic flavor, and marvelously fresh. It was no small portion, either! This was quite a significant chunk of fish. The skin was quite crispy, as advertised, but I'm not much of a skin person, so it was removed to the side and remained there for the remainder of dinner. The veggies were equally well cooked, just soft enough to be enjoyable while retaining all the juiciness to indicate their freshness. The potatos were thin sliced, with just a hint of a light white cheese melted around them, and were still slightly crunchy - the best au gratin potatos I've had, and I don't generally like au gratin. A wonderful dish.
- Fresh California Rock Shrimp Risotto - with Del Cabo Toy Box tomatoes, baby leeks, and a lobster reduction. This was fantastic. Full of shrimp and shrimp flavor, with a wonderful hint of lobster in the sauce. Rich, slightly creamy, and with that hint of gooeyness I associate with a well-made risotto. The tomatoes were astounding, with the strongest, most fantastic flavor I'd tasted in a while. They were like eating chunks of spaghetti sauce, with herbs, and yet had something akin to the consistency of being sundried, while at the same time managing to be marvelously juicy. I'm quite unsure how they managed it, but they were quite wonderful. Another great dish.
Creme brulee - with fresh sliced strawberries and blueberries and a light dusting of powdered sugar, as well as a strange cake-like cookie thing. The creme brulee was well made, perfectly crusted, and not at all watery, but didn't have the intensity of flavor of that served by Da Flora (See Review). The fruit was quite good, and the cakey-cookie thing tasty.
Certainly a good experience, and all the food was decidedly good. And at a mere $32/person for a 3-course meal, who can complain! Too bad we only get such an opportunity one month a year.