Monday, September 6, 2010

Gary Danko

I've been alternately lazy and busy the past few months, but now that I have some downtime and more scrumptious food photos, I am tending to this neglected little blog. I celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago, and what better way to enter a new year of life than dinner at...

That's right - Gary Danko! Restaurants like this are similar to a summer blockbuster movie or a pricey French wine - even if you've never experienced it, you should nod your head enthusiastically and muse, "Oh yes, I've heard that was good..." Needless to say, I was stoked to finally be able to try a restaurant that has long been considered an epitome of fine dining.

Amuse Bouche: Fennel, Prosciutto, and Blue Cheese
A taste of good things to come...

The wine for the night - Silver Oak 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. One of my fave cabs, full-bodied with bold cherry and blackberry flavors, a velvety texture, and a smooth finish. Yum!

Don't mind the bear. He was just tagging along!


Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Onions and Peaches

One of the best foie gras I've ever had! It was seared to perfection, sinfully rich and enhanced by the sweetness of the onions and peaches. I don't know what they did to the onions, but I certainly can't get mine to caramelize like this!

Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Shimeji Mushrooms, Roasted Tomatoes, Corn and Peas

Amazing risotto - not too thick or watery, just spoonfuls of creaminess packed with sweet seafood and veggies. As a testament to how good the food is here, my boyfriend who normally can't wait to flick mushrooms off his plate ended up devouring every bite of this dish!

Seared Sea Scallops with Zucchini-Basil Paste, Tomato Fondue, Red Peppers, Haricot Verts and Shimeji Mushrooms

Cheese Assortment - Delish with the wine!

Roasted Pork Belly and Tenderloin with Frisee Salad, Bacon, Pickled Jalapenos and Maple Glaze

I don't even know how to begin describing the flavor of this pork belly. Let's just say that if I had to have my last meal tomorrow, I'd want this on my plate. Juicy, savory, indulgently fatty meat laced with smoky and maple-y flavors ... just orgasmic! The tenderloin was also good, but of course it was overshadowed by the belly.

Braised Lamb Shoulder

Creme Brulee Trio

Thanks to the generous portion sizes, I was starting to feel full after the main courses. But as the desserts started rolling out, I immediately pushed away all feelings of satiation. There's always a separate stomach for dessert, right? My trio of creme brulee made me feel like I was eating three desserts for the price of one! My favorite - chocolate (on left). But it couldn't compare to what my boyfriend ordered...

Chocolate Souffle

It was like "eating a chocolate cloud," complete with two decadent syrupy sauces swirled right in! Mmm. However, my favorite dessert of the night ended up being the cute little passionfruit mousse they gave us for my birthday. I have never tasted mousse this good. The silky texture was not quite solid nor liquid, just some fluffy, heavenly state in between, packed with a surprisingly tart and tangy punch.

And the verdict for Gary Danko?

I think this expression pretty much says it all.

A little takeaway treat for breakfast the next morning - banana bread cake!

Overall, it was easy to see (or actually, to taste) why this restaurant is so famous and why Gary Danko is such a renowned chef. The flavor and presentation of the food was impeccable, balancing French and American elements in an elegant but accessible way. The seating area was beautiful. And the servers were upbeat and down to earth. They knew the menu items like the back of their hand, didn't make us feel silly for ogling over the food and taking so many damn pictures, and made sure our wine glasses were never empty.

The only downside to this restaurant? I couldn't really eat for the entire week after this meal because nothing tasted right! Guess that just means I'll have to go back again soon!

A super extra thanks to a wonderful boyfriend for this fantastic meal (and some of these photos)! Cheers!

Gary Danko
800 North Point Street
San Francisco, CA 94109