My niece lives in SFO so when I am in town we try a new restaurant together. Our tastes are similar and wallets are comfortable. I will be in town in a few weeks and we have a res at Town Hall. All I've been able to find about it is from 2005 and it's all negative. Is this still the case. She tried to get a res at Sociale, but it is booked.
Thanks for any guidance,
I just went to Town Hall last week. I had their BBQ shrimp starter, fried chicken entree and a dense caramelly toffee cake thing (sorry, I don't remember the name on the menu and their website doesn't list desserts). My date ordered the blue cheese fondue appetizer, and some kind of stew for entree. The BBQ shrimp were of decent size, very well seasoned, and nothing to complain about.
I ordered the fried chicken because I'm on a fried chicken quest and I have to say, its my favorite in SF. I've had the Maverick fried chicken and I love it but the cinnamin gets a little overpowering as you continue eating. The fried chicken at Hard Knox is great for a cheap, quick fix but not nearly as great as Town Hall. I've also had the fried chicken at The Front Porch and my biggest complaint there is that the fried batter tends to just fall off as you try to eat it. Also, their chicken is dryer than Town Hall's. In regards to Firefly, we went for dinner about 6 months ago and the website listed fried chicken as currently on the menu but to my disapointment, it wasn't on there when I arrived. The waiter suggested that I call to confirm next time before I come in. Oh yeah, Chenery Park! Their's is good too, and from what I recall, a pretty large portion. I would say their's is a close second to Town Hall's.
As for Town Hall's chicken, the batter is delicious, not too think, not too thin, with totally deboned chicken so there's nothing to fight with. Served with brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes. I usually hate brussel sprouts but these were wonderfully fresh and well cooked but still had a nice texture to them. Officially my favorite restaurant fried chicken in SF.
The dessert was great, but very dense. The two of us shared it with cups of Illy coffee and we still couldn't finish the dessert. If you love toffee and caramel, this is the perfect dessert for you.
Thanks for your fried chicken run-down. Quite a worthy quest! I've noticed that Street on Polk has a fried chicken special from time-to-time. I've not tried it, but maybe you can let us know how it shakes out.
Town Hall Restaurant
342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105
3665 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118
2141 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Went for dinner in October. I had great food but others in my party were rather disappointed. I will say that I had fried chicken and clams baked in some kind of cream butter sauce (delicious!) and they had seafood in some misguided attempt to save calories. Or maybe they just like fish, I don't know. In any case, trying to go light at this place is a bad idea. They do Southern well, and I would not stray far from that formula. Had the Duckhorn sav blanc, which was good. Goes well with rich foods in the chicken-seafood arena.
Have a great stay!
I have always adored Town Hall, but there are certain dishes that are better than others. Love the ham and egg toast with jalapeno cream to start, fried chicken entree, and butterscotch/chocolate pot de creme. You have to LOVE super rich comfort foods (nothing delicate here) and be prepared for a noisy, lively experience because of the space.
If that's not your thing, go to Sociale, which is my other fave restaurant in SF. Their ambience is relaxed, classic, and food is very tasty. I'd suggest sitting outside (they have heat lamps and it's covered) for maximum effect. The place is known for their outdoor atmosphere and it's just lovely. I have a hard time believing they have no more tables, so check out www.opentable.com like others have suggested, and give them a call as well.
I wrote reviews on both restaurants on my blog:
I'd say forget Town Hall. The fish and chips are tasteless and the batter is not particularly crisp, and the jalapeno corn sticks taste of bell peppers and are way too sweet. The noise is unbearable, ricocheting off the brick walls. The butterscotch pudding is delicious, but not worth the other negatives.
Thought I'd add my 2 cents on the fried chicken... I thought it was inferior to the one at Declancey's Welcome Table (Oakland), not superior to the one at Merritt Bakery (Oakland), and while I had fried rabbit, not chicken, at Chez Panisse, that bunny ran circles around Town Hall's chicken.
As good as Sociale's food might be (haven't been, only heard), hard to believe it is booked "a few weeks" in advance. Try Opentable.com.
Here's another thread that went around for Town Hall. I don't know if they have the fish & chips at dinner.
I have always enjoyed my meals at Town Hall, and over the past few years I've eaten there probably at least ten times (mostly lunches but a few dinners). I would caution, though, that it can be very noisy there, so if you have issues with noisy restaurants, it may not be the place for you. It isn't my favorite place in San Francisco, but I've never had a bad meal there. The last time that I was there I had great fried chicken, I love their jalepeno corn sticks, they have really good fish and chips, and their salads have fresh and very good ingredients, with excellent dressing (and not too heavy of a hand). The portions are sizeable.