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Gary Danko review

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This is the first of several reviews from our recent trip to Northern CA- we ate very well in San Francisco and in Napa/Sonoma, and I'll be posting them over the next day or so.

My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on October 5 and we went to Gary Danko for our anniversary dinner. We'd arrived in San Francisco (from Boston) the day before and had had a lovely day at the Anchor Brewery and the Monk's Kettle.

We arrived a bit early (as is our habit) and stood in the bar area sipping manhattans while watching the food being served and the tableside cheese presentation and the flambe dessert presentation. We were seated in the back room in a corner banquette, which was nice and cozy.

Amuse: a mushroom soup made with veal stock and cream with a brioche crouton. Nice rich flavor. I ordered a glass of prosecco and my husband ordered a glass of pinot noir from Russian River

First Course: I had the Seared Sonoma Foie Gras with Caramelized Red Onions and Figs and Tom had Salad of Black Mission Figs with, Burrata Cheese, Prosciutto and Shaved Fennel. Basically, if it had figs in it, Tom ordered it. This was my first foie gras and it was really different than I thought it would be, texture-wise. Very decadent.

Second Course: I had Lobster Bisque with Edamame, Corn, and Dungeness Crab. Tom had Rock Shrimp Risotto with Tarragon Oil, Peas, Corn, and Roasted Tomato. He enjoyed the risotto quite a lot, and the bisque was very earthy tasting, which made for an interesting contrast with the lobster and crab. I liked it.

Third Course: The waiter recommended a glass of Cotes du Rhone grenache and also topped Tom's glass of pinot off (finishing the bottle, I believe). The recommended wine went wonderfully with the Guinea Hen Breast with Rosemary-Pork Sausage, Maitake Mushrooms and Bread Dumpling. Tom had the Branzini with Fennel Purée, Niçoise Olives, Zucchini and Saffron. The guinea hen almost finished me off- it was wonderful and it was a surprisingly large portion of very hearty food.

Fourth Course: Tom had Roasted Pears with Gingerbread and Nutmeg Ice Cream (also coated in gingerbread crumbs). I tackled the cheese cart, which was tough going after the guinea hen- I wasn't able to get the names of the cheeses, but I selected a goat's milk Camembert, a sheep's milk manchego style cheese, a runny stinky cheese that was contained under glass, and an unpasteurized cow's milk cheese from California- perhaps from Cowgirl Creamery? The waiter poured me a glass of 20 year port to go with the cheese. Delicious but I was pretty much bursting at the seams at this point- this was our first multi-course meal and our stomachs were still in training.

At the end, we received a plate of petit fours that was inscribed with "Happy Anniversary" in chocolate on the plate and a lit candle. They called us a cab and sent us back to our hotel with a banana pudding "for breakfast."

All in all, a lovely "special occasion" meal- the atmosphere and service was top notch. It was a little overly formal for Tom's taste, but he still enjoyed the experience. We did end up skipping breakfast the next morning because we were still full from dinner and ate the banana pudding which was yummy.

I tried to take notes (and got into the habit down the line to request a copy of the tasting menu) but I was pretty distracted by the actual eating and drinking. Also, my husband forbade me from taking photos in the restaurants, heh. I did sneak a couple pictures though.

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Gary Danko
800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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  1. thanks so much for the report back...I am linking your original request for information, as it is always good for folks to hear how their recommendations worked out:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/655568

    hope to hear about your other dinners also, particularly interested in Ame.

    1. I need to go back to Gary Danko. I went about 18 months ago with six people. Four, including myself, were serious beer aficionados and the other two were actual brewers. Their beer selection was somewhere way below my local bowling alley. It killed the evening. But, now I know and I'd like to go back. That cheese cart was pretty impressive and I had some venison that was superb.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SaltCod

        We are big beer drinkers as well, SaltCod. We didn't even look at the beer selection here, though- just didn't seem to be the place for that. However, at the French Laundry, my husband had an awesome beer pairing (with a limited number but absolutely awesome beers).

      2. Your statement "fois gras was different than expected - more decedent" --- what were you expecting, how was it prepared, and what kind of decadence did you get?

        And thanks for the report.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bbulkow

          Well, I had an expectation of a more terrine or pate- like consistency. (like the French laundry's preparation.) This was definitely the organ itself, seared and sweet and caramelized. The mouthfeel was exciting- it almost dissolved on the tongue. I loved it. It was just a surprise to my palate. (because I hadn't experienced it before)

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. We have had several memorable meals at GD. Still have a signed menu in our dining room. We felt that it was better than TFL and we had just dined there a few days earlier. Still, you should take a shot at TFL if the opportunity arises.