Escargot in SF?
Before I die, there are three things I'd like to try: Escargot, Caviar, and Truffles. I'll be in SF in several months. Can anyone suggest a place that serves "good escargot". (Whatever that would be.) Hopefully near Union square which is where I'll be staying and not too pricey. I'm on a budget and traveling alone. Bistro Central Park sounds good pricewise, but is not close to my Hotel. The caviar and truffles can wait for some other time. Thanks.
For Escargot try Chapeau. It is also on the menu at Moussy's and Rue Saint Jacques but I haven't been.
You could try the Escargot puff from Chez Spencer's take away truck. http://spenceronthego.com/home.html
There are a couple buses near Union Square that can take you to Bistro Central Park too. It'd probably be about a 15 - 20 minute bus ride.
300 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Bistro Central Parc
560 Central Ave, San Francisco, CA 94117
Bistro Central Park is very new, it could be great but we don't have many reports yet. There are actually a number of pretty good French cafes and bistros around Union Square that should have escargot in a traditional preparation. I like the escargot lollipops at Spencer on the Go, but for a first experience I'd go for the original version.
Cafe de la Presse has escargot on the dinner menu right now. I'd imagine Chez Papa Resto or Cafe Claude may have it too. The only one of these that I have been to is Cafe de la Presse, which I have certainly enjoyed. All 3 of these suggestions are walking distance from Union Square, you could even do an escargot crawl if your stomache was up for all the butter and garlic!
I really enjoyed the escargot at L'ardoise, and the place is so charming. J Church would get you there from union square in under 15 min.
Le P'tit Laurent, Glen Park. (1 block from BART) cosy, comfortable bistro with neighborhood patrons and French hostess. Escargot , good appetizers. Early Bird dinner specials.
If you wanted to plan on caviar as well, Tsar Nicouli should have its caviar cafe open in the Union Square area in a few months. You can get a taste for under $25.
If you really want to try caviar on the cheap, take the Geary St bus up to New World market which has huge bowls of cavier in the deli for .low prices. It is a Russian market. Many of the Russian markets in that area. If you went to Cinderella Bakery you could get Russian crepes topped with caviar for $6.50
That area is a bit of a busride from Union Square, but it is direct and easy.
I like Katia's a bit more, and their prices are similar
Traditionally, caviar came from Sturgeon from the Caspian Sea. Now, the population is endangered and folks are selling fish eggs from other kinds of fish: salmon, etc.
If you're gonna try it once, then go for better quality: Beluga (IMO). I think there used to be a place at the Ferry Bldg in SF but I'm not sure they still exist...
As for eating escargot, despite my it being my adopdted moniker here, I just have too damn many of those nasty critters eating their way across my garden every night to recommend anything but hunting, gathering, and dumping them in the trashcan...
The place in the Ferry Building was Tsar Nicouli mentioned above. It is no longer at the Ferry Building and will be opening a cafe in Union Square.
I guess I don't agree with you about waiting to pony up the bucks for Beluga. Fish eggs are fish eggs. Having gone through the Tsar Nicouli tasting, yes there are different tastes and textures. But in the end, whatever you try, gives you a pretty good idea.
I'd liken it to champagne and sparkling wine. If I waited to try tthe top of the line Perrier, I might never have tried champagne at all. And ... I have tried the top of the line, and I prefer bottles in the $30 range ... and for everyday drinking the bottles at $10 - $15 are the same.
Another way to go is at one of the big pricy buffets (but call and ask). The Ritz at one time had a caviar station.
As Scott M suggested, Chapeau has it and if you can make it to the 5-6PM prix fixe special, you might find it on the menu and within your budget. Easy bus ride from Union Square. For caviar you might try a local Iranian store near where you live. You might be able to find better prices than Russian caviar (and, according to the Iranians, of better quality).
Try Rue St. Jacques. They have yummy escargot, but it's done in a more southern french style. And they have a $35 prix fixe menu. It's in Nob Hill, not terribly far from Union Sq. and right on the Hyde Street Cable car line. I really enjoy this place; I eat here often as it's around the corner from me. It's not everyone's cup of tea but I've always had great food here.
It's the sauce that is different has garlic butter and served with cherry tomatoes,
Catalan Chorizo, bacon and herbs. The more traditional is garlic, butter and parsley. It's really yummy. I've seen mixed reviews about this place, but I really enjoy eating there. Some people think it's sort of "meh"
Here's the menu
And walkable from union square.
7 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108
501 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94109