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Review: Lunch at the Fairmont in SF (long)

operagirl Jun 19, 2009 08:37 AM

Yesterday, my mother and I met up with my grandparents for a celebratory lunch at the Fairmont. This was a choice of convenience, since my grandma happens to go there every week for a hair appointment upstairs in the salon. And so, around 1:15 post-coiffing, the four of us met in the lobby and proceeded to the Laurel Court.

At first, nobody deigned to notice that we were standing there. But after a couple minutes, my grandfather got a waiter's attention, and they said they could have a table ready for us in a few minutes. We then noticed that there was a singer doing a sound check on a stage that had been set up on one side of the dining room. Turns out there was an event promoting "Wicked," a Broadway musical that happens to be touring in SF. The loud sound checking was an ominous sign, but the actual performance only turned out to be a few minutes long, and it was after we were mostly done with our entrees. Note to Laurel Court - your acoustics are terrible, and your sound system is not equipped to handle belting broadway singers! Oof.

And so, the staff was quite preoccupied with this random event. Usually afternoon tea is only on weekends, and nobody coming to the Fairmont for lunch on a Thursday would generally be confronted with this situation.

Once we were seated, our waiter introduced himself, and from his first smile, we knew we were (finally) in good hands. He took our drink orders - one iced tea for my mom and spicy bloody marys for the rest of us.

The bloody mary was strong and good! Heavy on the vodka if I do say so. It came with a colossal pimento-stuffed olive, a wedge of lime, and a perfectly fresh, tender stalk of celery.

Next we all placed our food orders - mom and grandma ordered the seared ahi tuna salad, and grandpa and I chose the kobe beef burger.

Our food came was ready in a completely reasonable amount of time, and in general, the pacing of the meal was spot on.

My mother and grandmother thoroughly enjoyed their salads - the tuna was seared on the outside, raw on the inside, cut into generous medallions and resting against a large pile of noodles in a sweet chili soy-ginger vinaigrette, all over a bed of baby spinach. Oh, I should mention that the menu states that the kitchen uses organic and local products whenever possible, which I always consider a plus.

The kobe beef burger was delicious! It looked to be about a 6 ounce burger - big and generous. It was served on a dutch crunch roll, perfect in size and heft to accommodate such a large patty. On top of the patty was a slice of melted, extra-sharp white cheddar cheese and two pieces of thick, double-smoked bacon. I went the knife and fork route, foregoing the top bun, lettuce, and tomato slices entirely. My burger was cooked perfectly medium as ordered, uniformly pink on the inside and satisfyingly charred on the outside.

During our meal, the maître d' came and apologized for the wait for seating and the impending musical interruption. He was very gracious and apologetic, and my grandparents were impressed at the gesture, especially considering we were obviously enjoying ourselves at this point and in no need of consolation. Classy move, Sir. And so, Broadway actress Teal Wicks sang a rousing and loud rendition of "The Wizard and I," and then our meal returned to its normal volume.

For dessert, we ordered coffee and a shared crème brûlée. The coffee was excellent, and the crème brûlée was out of this world. With a paper-thin, caramelized crust, fresh berries, and a lusciously thick and smooth custard, it was textbook perfect.

And so, we ended up having an unconventional, but on the whole wonderful meal at the Laurel Court. They even offered to validate our parking passes, saving us a good $20 at the garage when we left! We wouldn't have thought to ask, and this was a really nice touch.

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    kresge86 RE: operagirl Jun 19, 2009 12:06 PM

    Thanks for the review. It's nice to know. I used to like going to Laurel Court for special business lunches (nice ambience), but hadn't heard anything in recent years about the quality of its food and service.

    1. rworange RE: operagirl Jul 6, 2009 11:37 AM

      Nice report.

      It is odd the sound was off as they feature live jazz once a week.

      It seems they are doing a Wicked Tea on Sat and Sun through the end of August. However, not sure what makes it Wicked other than cute names on the menu
      http://www.fairmont.com/EN_FA/Propert...

      They seem to have some Friday special thing going on Fridays ...
      http://www.fairmont.com/sanfrancisco/...

      "Every Friday, a local farmstead creamery is highlighted with wine pairings, as seasonal sauté special, and fresh shucked Hog Island oysters. "

      Pretty room. Sounds like it could be pleasant

      Something to keep in mind ... they seem to offer a champagnge buffet with omelet station daily. It is $$$$ ... $$$ ... but still ... if someone wanted something like that other than Sunday... the regulagar breakfast menu Has French Toast stuffed with fresh mission figs ... $20 ... but a nice idea. May give that a try at home.

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      Laurel Court Restaurant at The Fairmont Hotel
      950 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108

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