Staying atop Nob Hill; Recommendations for Dinner?
Canteen is on Sutter St. While I've enjoyed it for breakfast, Thursday was my first time there for dinner. My visitors were staying at the Fairmont at the top of Nob Hill and rolled down the slope to meet me. I gave them a lift back, as it would be too strenuous to attempt to walk back up.
I liked everything we tried though but wasn't wow'd. Solid cooking, some things were undersalted and the plating seemed kind of stilted. BUT, if the lamb loin with farro, raisins, sweet red peppers, and a sprinkle of Turkish urfa pepper in still on the menu, definitely order that. The jus was remarkably delicious, just the thin juices rolling around the plate, but so intense and complex in flavor. A little smokey, some gamey notes, sweet highlights, salty undertones, the essence of lamb. Very enjoyable with the BYOB 1990 Chateau l'Arrosee St Emilion. And, It gave us a pretext for getting more of the wonderful brioche-like dinner rolls to sop up the jus. The roast pork loin was boring, overcooked, and tasted as bland as it looked on a near monochromatic plate. Even the bunch of arugula flowers could not rescue it.
We stay partway up Nob Hill twice a year and don't dine too much in the immediate area as there are so many superior options not too far away. You could walk down to Perbacco or Barbacco (reso would be good) and then nab a cable car home afterward on California -- it's $6 each way unless you have a pass but kind of a fun thing to do and better than walking that slope both ways. Tadich is also down there and the bar for a solo diner could be a good option. Just do your homework on what to order (or think simple grilled fish) and you should be fine; try to avoid peak times so as not to wait/to wait less.
There's not much on Nob Hill. There's the Nob Hill Cafe, which is OK but nothing special.
There's also Venticello, which is good but a bit pricey.
My suggestion would be to walk over to Russian Hill, specifically to Hyde Street.
Things start getting good north of Vallejo St.
There's a concentration of worthwhile places over there.
Zarzuealla, Frascatti, Luella, just to name a few.
I prefer all of these to the places I mentioned on Nob Hill.
Also be aware that if you head to the south down the hill, e.g. Rue Lepic,
a) it is a very steep walk back up, and
b) the neighborhood gets progressively more sketchy as you head south/downhill.
I don't much like Nob Hill south of California St.,but that's just me.