Day 2 in San Fran: Our Foodie Experience

Restaurant Reviews/Food TopicsTravelUnited States
June 30, 2009

Honestly, I did nothing all day except eat on day 2.  And it was FABULOUS!  I love food and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  I don’t like to do it all the time, but a well-researched gem in a new city is a delicious splurge.  Here are my reviews of our picks.  First up for lunch was The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant in the Ferry building on Embarcadero.  Here are my ratings of it:

  • Price/Value: $25-30 a person for lunch w/o alcohol.  More for dinner obviously.  I’m going to give it a 3.5 on value, as you had to pay $2 a person for rice.  That seemed a bit tacky to me.  Why not just include it with the dish??
  • Food Quality/Taste: 4.5 stars.  Exceptional quality and taste.  Unique flavor textures and profiles.  We had caramelized prawns and vegetables, lettuce wraps, jasmine rice and clay pot chicken.  All were fantastic and very memorable.  The only downside for me was that everything came family-style and had to be ordered separately.  That made it more difficult to order because multiple people needed to all want the same thing.
  • Ambiance: 4 stars.  Very sleek and modern, which isn’t my favorite – but GREAT views of the bay!
  • Service: 5 stars.  Very attentive.  Our server automatically had a dish adapted so the vegetarian could enjoy it too.
  • Location/Parking: 5 stars.  Located right on the bay in the delightful Ferry Building.  Lots of transportation options to get there.
  • Overall Score: 4 stars.  Loved the food and service and location.  Wish it wouldn’t have been family style though!


We wanted our last meal in the US to be highly memorable, so we booked a reservation with Restaurant Gary Danko, one of the most challenging tables to get in San Francisco.  It’s only a 65 seat dining room and rated as one of the top 3 restaurants, so we were happy to land a 5:30 reservation.  This is definitely a special date restaurant, as your minimum meal option is a $66 three course tasting menu.  Add a glass of wine and you’re minimally looking at $100 per person with tax and tip.  Here’s my review of the restaurant:

  • Price/Value: 3.5 stars.  They’re obviously selling out the dining room each night, so people are willing to pay what they’re asking.  For me though, in comparison to other restaurants with similar menus and food quality levels, I’ve been able to get more for my money.
  • Food Quality/Taste: 3 stars.  Nick and I have been debating this one since we got home last night.  While the food was beautifully presented and perfectly done, there wasn’t any “wow” factor to it.  The flavor profiles were fairly standard and the food choices were what I would have expected to see.  There just weren’t any surprises… yet on the other hand, it’d be hard to find something to complain about.  To give you an idea of what we had, our courses were: An amuse bouche courtesy of the chef, bread, appetizers, salmon medallions for me, scallops for Nick, a cheese course and a chocolate souffle for dessert.
  • Ambiance: 2 stars.  I was not a fan of the space or decor.  Ambiance is the most important thing for me, as I believe it sets the tone for how the meal will go.  It’s a conduit for conversation and good feelings toward the dining experience.  So why wasn’t I impressed?  We were crammed into a small dining space, I found it impossible to stay focused on my own conversation because of other tables on top of us, and the decor felt a bit outdated.  Nothing memorable about it.
  • Service: 5 stars.  Not a question in my mind.  Best service I’ve ever had at a restaurant.  Amazingly attentive staff that paid attention to small things.  They even brought us an additional plate of mini desserts with Bon Voyage written in chocolate to celebrate our last night here.  Another thing that impressed me was that a taxi had already been called for us right when we were paying our bill.  Impressive.
  • Location/Parking: 3.5 stars.  Not near the water, on a bit of a random street.  Seemed to be squished in to the location.  No parking except valet.  No idea if there was public transportation nearby, as we took a taxi.
  • Overall: 3.5 stars.  High marks for service and execution, but lacked soul.  Food was perfectly done, but not memorable.  Ambiance left something to be desired.  I don’t like being a sardine when I’m paying that much!

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