Whenever I hear the name Restaurant Gary Danko I think of the movie Donnie Darko. In some ways I suppose it was kind of fitting. By the end of the night it may have actually had some similarities in terms of the bizarre behavior that took place during our dinner.
This was one of the first reservations we made once we decided we were going to visit San Francisco. As it turned out, it was also the first dinner we had once we arrived. Since we were staying at the Washington Square Inn in North Beach it was maybe a fifteen minute walk to the restaurant. Mrs. Dine-O-Mite and I arrived a little early for our reservation and ended up waiting about fifteen minutes to be seated.
The hostess takes us to our table which was a small table for two, sandwiched between another table for two and a four top. Once we sat down we both decided on the 4 course tasting menu.
We each chose the Sweet Corn Soup with Dungeness Crab, Red Pepper, Créme Fraiche and Pancetta Biscuit. All I can say is that this dinner was over before it started. Hands down, right out of the gate this was the best dish of the night. I say this not because the other dishes were that bad, but because the soup was that good. Some seriously sweet corn and large chunks of Dungeness crab put this soup in the same league as the Jean George pea soup from last summer. If you get anything off of the Gary Danko menu, this would be it.
She had the Horseradish Crusted Salmon Medallion with Dilled Cucumbers and Mustard Sauce I had the Pancetta Wrapped Frog Legs with Roast Tomatoes, Garlic and Parsley Purées. I had never had frog legs before so I figured I’d give it a whirl. That being said, I think they were okay but I would have rather had something else. I can now check frog legs off the list. As for my wife, she really enjoyed her entree and that's saying a lot because she's not typically a big fan of dill.
Between the second and third course A pair of husbands and wives sit down next to us. My guess is that they spent too long waiting at the bar. The women (one in particular) were pretty crocked, the men weren’t drunk but were getting pretty loose with their comments. Anyway, the table next to them is getting up and one of the drunk women almost starts a fight with a girl in in the other party because she thought she was listening in on her conversation. You would have thought it was Friday night at the local watering hole.
She had the Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb with Tian of Vegetables and Polenta.
I had the Seared Filet of Beef with Potato-Leek Napoleon, Cassis Glazed Shallots and Blue Cheese Butter. What can I say? It’s filet of beef and lamb. Again, it tasted good but this was not ground breaking.
At about this time. a couple sits down on the other side of us...he’s dressed like he just happened to be walking by and decided to pop in, complete with computer bag. They get settled and almost immediately, he pulls a laptop out of his bag and puts it on the table. I thought it was a little strange, but whatever. I figured he’d check his email and put it away. Wrong. Instead, he puts the computer between he and his date so that they can both look at it at the same time. The staff is trying to take their order and put dishes down on this 3’x3’ table with a laptop in the middle of it. Since there were mirrors on the wall we could see they were looking at pictures they took of food. It was strange as hell, comical really. They barely had enough room on their table for bread and drinks, let alone the laptop and their camera...I guess they were posting on their blog in real time!
Fourth (and final) Course:
We both opted for the highly recommended Baked Chocolate Soufflé with Two Sauces. The server comes to the table and carries out a dramatic table side presentation where they puncture the soufflé and pour in the two sauces. It was probably the next best thing to the soup. I would highly recommend this dessert over the others I saw coming out. Actually most of the desserts coming out were soufflés.
Overall, I thought I got my money’s worth. Would I go back? Probably not. I think there are just too many other good, if not great places, to eat at in this city. The service was very gracious (even to laptop watchers and drunken wives), the ambiance was wonderful, I just don’t think it warrants a trip back. However, if you haven’t been there I would recommend trying it at least once.
Restaurant Gary Danko
800 N Point St
San Francisco, CA 94109