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Sep 9, 2008 03:30 PM

What does everyone think of farallon?

Going to be in napa and sf for 5 days next week. A friend told me to go to farallon. is it worth it?

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  1. Simple but confusing answer from the president of the board on what to eat or not eat at Farallon.

    1 Reply
    1. I have eaten there on several occasions. It is a frustrating place; I am either thrilled afterwards or really really p***ed off.

      The food is very good most of the time. I made the mistake of ordering a steak there once (it's a seafood place) and it was vastly overcooked. The potatoes accompanying it were nigh on inedible. They were like those bad "breakfast potatoes" at second-rate brunch places--greasy, undercooked and burnt around the edges with crunchy onions throughout.

      Things I like: 1) They get the caviar presentation right. People like different things with their caviar, and rather than going whole hog fist down on the red onions, for example, they also include chives. And egg, creme fraiche, capers, etc. Things are cut in reasonable sizes, no huge chunks of onion to contend with. 2) Sweetbreads appetizer. I think the last couple of times I've had it there were mushrooms with it? Both times ordering it was nice. 3) It's hard to name a fish dish, because they change with the season, availability, etc. Halibut in SF is almost always a good bet because it's from around here. I had a dorade one time that was phenomenal. Many good options. Have had no fish problems. 4) And, last but not least, as with many of Pat Kuleto's restaurants, the wine list is deep and interesting--i.e., it's not overly California-ed. Good assortment of half bottles too. Though as I recall, it lacks depth in the champagne area: brut, brut, brut, brut, brut....zzzzz. If they could just get a good champagne blend on the list (if you're listening, Farallon wine director, how about a nice Henriot?), I might just hang out at the drafty bar and get the caviar.

      There is a seating issue: the upstairs is extremely drafty and there is an odd mezzanine spot that nobody wants to sit in. When I went last, my mother was visiting and I asked the host to sit in the main dining room. It's super-cool--the inside of an old pool with an old mosaic ceiling, and filled with exuberant sea urchin light fixtures. The host first tried to put us upstairs, then in the odd little mezzanine with the walk-ins in sweatshirts. I vowed never to return, as I was told firmly that we had to sit in the mezzanine and there were no tables available in the main dining room, and then promptly afterward, the people who came in after us (also a group of 3) were taken into the main dining room. While there were what looked like about 5 people as older management types roaming around, the front desk was being "manned" by what looked like a 17-year-old twerp. And the older management types stand together from time to time talking smack about the diners, which I was able to overhear from my perch on the mezzanine. Of course, a bad situation can be fixed by good food and a good server. The time before that, when I was seated in the drafty upstairs, our waiter was so charming and the food was so delicious that I almost forgot I was huddled under three layers of cashmere. (Though this might seem unnecessary information in early September, I might note that my dog is sleeping in front of a fire in her sweater right now.)

      Taken all together, I like it. And I don't. Maybe I'm a grumpus, but there are a lot of good places here in SF that have $40 entrees. A 50-50 score for me is not enough. But I can bet I'll go back on that claim and go back to Farallon again.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sallie

        Nice report, Sallie. We've only eaten there twice, but were seated in the main room both times, had great meals and grand times. When everything is right, it's wonderful. You seem very patient and fair to put up with all that happened to you.

        1. re: Claudette

          Sallie's report was pretty much exactly the way I feel about Farallon. If you really want to go, insist on being in the main dining room, for starters. I'd probably have lunch there again if I'm in the area, but I've been very disappointed by dinner.

      2. If you do go, save room for dessert, Emily Luchetti's one of the best pastry chefs around.

        1. Honestly, I'd rather go to Ame.

          1. Only if you like paying a lot of money for unimaginative, poorly-prepared food in a ridiculous setting. There are so many great restaurants in SF, Farallon is just an embarassment.

            If that was an off night, they really, really had an off night. That was the last awful meal I ever paid for without serious words with mangement.