I love San Francisco. I love that I can indulge in opposite realms of the food world within feet of each other and not feel internally conflicted. This past Saturday, Dave and I spent the morning perusing the acre of farmer's market tents that dot the perimeter of the San Francisco Ferry Building to find fresh produce, baked goodies, an ever-present line for Blue Bottle Coffee, and a plethora of prepared foods, whose scent wafted through the Bay air enticing us to sample crostinis with smoked salmon, goat cheese, Meyer lemon, and capers (topped with fennel fronds and lavender salt, no less). Less than few hundred feet away (located inside the Ferry Building) was The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese fusion restaurant nominated in 2008 for James Beard's Outstanding Restaurant Awards, and the very place Dave and I happened to have reservations for that night.
Inspired by the potentially sunny and crisp weather, we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and up Highway 1 to Stinson Beach and Point Reyes National Seashore to add scenic adventure to an already blissful Northern California day. Fortunately, we had a fantastic Moules Frites and Steak Tartare seaside lunch in Stinson Beach at the Sand Dollar Cafe. Unfortunately, we left the camera in the car, so you'll have to take our word for it.
Returning from our sun-speckled, eucalyptus-strewn, meandering trek, we washed up and arrived at 9:15 pm for our long-awaited fine-dining outing, finding the service at The Slanted Door to be impeccably attentive and friendly. Having been able to get reservations a week ahead of time, we found this, one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the country, to be quite accessible. Seated at a table for two overlooking San Francisco Harbor and the Bay Bridge, we considered the pressing questions at hand...Cocktails or Wine? Small plates or Entrees? We decided on cocktails and a variety of the latter.
Ever-pressured to conform to today's societal norms, I didn't bring the camera into the fancy restaurant. Listed below is The Slanted Door's web address and last night's "can't-go-wrong" menu selections:
1. Dave had the Pendennis Club Cocktail (Miller's gin, Orchard Apricot Brandy, Lime, Peychaud's Bitters; served up) It was pink - which he'll never live down.
2. I had the Hotel Nacional Special (Barbancourt 8yr rhum, Lime, Pineapple gomme, Orchard apricot brandy; served up) It was Sunset Orange - much more respectable.
3. Slanted Door spring rolls with shrimp, pork, mint and (spicy!) peanut sauce.
4. Braised Pork Belly with red grapes and Balsamic Vinegar.
5. Caramelized Tiger Prawns with garlic, onions and chili sauce.
6. Star Route Farm baby spinach with garlic and caramelized shallots.
7. Jasmine Rice.
8. Dessert: Dark Chocolate Cake with Caramel and Creme Fraiche Ice Cream.
9. Dave - Hong Kong Milk Tea (black) special blend served with condensed milk.
10. Me - Red Peach "Hong Tao Mao Feng" (black) an organic tea from the mountains of Anhui Provence with tobacco aromas.