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Jun 25, 2010 11:56 AM

Wayfare Tavern - Tyler Florence's new San Francisco Restaurant

Wayfare Tavern is a new restaurant from celebrity chef Tyler Florence that opened this week. It is located in Rubicon’s old Financial District location. He is also opening Rotisserie & Wine in Napa and El Paseo in Mill Valley. Michael Thiemann is the chef de cuisine by way of Merriman’s in Hawaii and the Hapuku Lodge in New Zealand. They focus on local and sustainable ingredients for their American cuisine.

Decor, Vibe – They retain Rubicon’s multi level layout with dining areas on two floors. Wayfare Tavern has decor out of the Barbary Coast era with dark wood floors, old school lightbulbs, lots of hunting trophies, counter seating, rustic booth seating, billards room upstairs, and old-fashioned decor. Place was loud and packed with foodies and Food Network fans eager to try this new restaurant.

The American Comfort food and service was surprisingly very good for a brand new place.

Dishes we liked included:
Grilled Calamari, Baked Avocado with crab, Pickled Anchovies, Organic Fried Chicken, Salmon, Halibut, Smoked Sonoma Pork Ribs, Peach Pie

Bunch of pics over at:

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  1. Thanks for the review and pictures. I checked out the foodnut link and it looks like the salmon and halibut pics are swapped.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Scott M

      The pictures are now correct, thanks.

    2. The food looks beautiful. I'm wondering if the $22 fried chicken arrived with any sides?

      16 Replies
      1. re: sugartoof

        Asked and answered.
        "ORGANIC FRIED CHICKEN ($22) buttermilk brine, roasted garlic, crispy woody herbs and lemon was excellent. Not overly battered, cooked perfectly, and featuring strong herbs flavors. The dish could have included some side items though."

        1. re: wolfe

          I still keep reading that expecting the woody herbs and roaster garlic, or even the lemon to turn into a side dish.

          1. re: sugartoof

            "A garnish is an item or substance used as a decoration or embellishment on a prepared food dish... In some cases, it may give added or contrasting flavor, but a typical garnish is selected first to augment the visual impact of the plate, not necessarily to affect the flavor."

            1. re: sugartoof

              SFGate's First Look mentions that entrees come without sides (meaning that entree prices are closer to $30 than to $20 when you include a side dish).


              1. re: sugartoof

                It is amusing how stingy upscale restaurants are with their fried chicken accompaniments. Like a scoop of collard greens or a yam would break the bank. It must be an organic lemon.

                1. re: Windy

                  I agree. Nothing ticks me off like being nickeled and dimed by "upscale" restaurants. Once in Phoenix we were charged $1.50 a piece for blue cheese dressing. It won't break the bank to serve some mashed spuds and a green veggie with the fried chicken...maybe even some onion gravy. As a matter of principle, I will not go to Tyler's new place.

                  1. re: OldTimer

                    I am with you OldTimer and Windy. I can't believe he is opening all of these restaurants at the same time! And then, to charge these ridiculous prices??? With so many unemployed, I really don't think that this spells success.

                    1. re: sosdiaz

                      An earlier post on this board lists abalone steak on Saturdays. LOOK OUT! And not even a side dish. It will be interesting to see how he makes out with that one. The only saving grace is that so few younger diners have ever eaten abalone.

                      1. re: OldTimer

                        The daily "blue plate" specials appear to have some sides:

                        ABALONE STEAK ~ sweet corn puree, succotash, lemon brown butter and arugula /29

                        Full list below:

                        Daily Blue Plate Specials
                        SMOKED PORK CHOP ~ marcona almond butter, roasted peaches and fennel /26

                        CRISP DUNGENESS CRAB CAKES ~ sweet pea puree, summer truffles and mache /27

                        T-BONE STEAK ~ 21 day dry aged, Sonoma grass fed, maitre d' butter creamed spinach, roasted potatoes and onion soubise /36

                        SMOKED SONOMA PORK RIBS ~ roasted corn on the cob, pot of beans, potato salad and coleslaw /24

                        FISH & CHIPS ~ ale battered Alaskan halibut, buttered peas and French fried potatoes /25

                        ABALONE STEAK ~ sweet corn puree, succotash, lemon brown butter and arugula /29

                        CHICKEN POT PIE ~ organic chicken, peas, pearl onions, carrots and buttermilk crust /24

                        1. re: Scott M

                          The blue plates sound like the way to go.

                          I get it though. Free range chickens aren't cheap these days, which means these fancied up versions of fried chicken are ridiculously priced even before they add in their $8 sides they want you to buy. Adding 1 or 2 sides would make it a $30-38 plate of friend chicken, which is beyond steep. I don't understand the log. Wayfare has a roasted chicken dish *including* friend potatoes for $22. Sure it's less work but the profit margin should be the same. Mash up some potatoes, toss in a piece of corn. Include sweet potatoes and broccoli rabe, like Ad Hoc does.

                          I hate to pick of Wayfare, since this has actually been a silly trend with fried chicken for a while now.

                          Ad Hoc
                          6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            I thought the same thing as OldTimer re: the cost of the abalone, particularly if the Tbone was $36 and the chicken pot pie $24(!)...but I am wondering if the cost of abalone is coming down (possibly more farms and/or the number of mature abalone increasing as farms come of age?)...of course, it could be a very small piece of abalone...indeed, did a little research, and some of the abalone farms will sell a pound (which one site says is enough for up to four people) for $75, yeah, $29 for one is possible if it is a small serving and Wayfare is making lots of money on its regular dishes and all those sides....

                          2. re: Scott M

                            This is either a misprint or fraud. Nobody...nobody is selling abalone steaks at $29.00.

                            1. re: OldTimer

                              It does seem strange, and the website does not have the menu so I can only go by what can be found on the web.

                              At first I thought it was misprint and was supposed to be albacore steak and not abalone

                    2. re: Windy

                      Yams and coleslaw won't exactly break the bank and they don't take much effort to prepare.

                      1. re: myst

                        Cole slaw especially. It cheap, and it would allow a chef some room to play.

                  2. re: wolfe

                    I have had Chicken at KFC which I enjoyed more.

                2. The original comment has been removed
                  1. I went last week and the place is packed! Lots of diners and people at the bar. The layout is neat downstairs with the open kitchen and Tyler Florence was working that night.

                    My friend and I got the grilled calamari and I loved the texture and freshness. They also have a raw bar with fresh oysters.

                    I had the leg of lamb. I thought the pieces of the lamb seemed inconsistent, some medium some medium rare and fatty. But the flavor of the jus around the plate was very rich and tasty. My friend had the halibut that was piled on with broccoli rabe and clams and he loved the mix of flavors including lemon preserves in the sauce.

                    We had the pineapple upside down cake and it was like a crumb cake, not super sweet, but very nice salt caramel ice cream on top.

                    Overall, I liked it and wasn't expecting to. But some friends asked if the prices were high. I felt it was comparable to most high-end places, like maybe a smidge below Quince. I didn't think it was outrageous or anything.

                    Here's more description and photos:

                    1. A friend and I sat at the bar last week and ordered a couple of appetizers with our drinks.

                      Cocktails were well made--I looked for violette to make an Aviation, but when that didn't appear to be available, I had a Corpse Reviver #2 instead. We shared the avocado and hearts of palm salad as well as fries with parsley and sea salt. Both were good, but the perfectly ripe avocado sparkled under the dust of sea salt and squeeze of lime. The bar also offers fresh potato chips as bar snacks (though we didn't have them.).

                      Scene-wise, it was calmer than I expected for a financial district bar/restaurant directly post-work, and other than the lady with unlikely blonde extensions who kept jamming her statement bag into my ribcage, it was a remarkably pleasant place to enjoy a cocktail. There are perhaps 10 stools at the bar, some standing room space and a few low tables if you arrive early enough to nab one.

                      I looked over the menu and, as others in this thread have echoed, the prices seemed expense account oriented ($34 strip steak with no sides? no thanks) and not interesting enough for me to want to commit to a $100+ dinner with drinks for two. I would return for a post work cocktail and snack though.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pane

                        "the prices seemed expense account oriented"

                        It's a bit of a shame. Pictures look intriguing, but doesn't match the pricing.

                        That's steakhouse pricing, with the sides extra, which I don't have a problem for on strip steak, but most of the menu is old San Francisco California cuisine comfort food.