SF Challenge Day Two
Day two of our San Francisco restaurant challenge (read about the challenge and day one here) began with lunch at the beautiful Cavallo Point on the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Cavallo Point is a gorgeous resort housed in Fort Baker, a former U.S. Army post and includes a hotel, spa, bar and restaurant with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.
We started with drinks at Farley bar, a very masculine bar with lots of wood, leather and oversized furniture. Jon and I each had a mimosa that was made with fresh-squeezed orange juice. This is a place where you could spend a long afternoon with the newspaper and a game of backgammon or chess.
After drinks, we went to the attached Murray Circle Restaurant. This is how their website describes Murray Circle: “Settle into the elegant yet comfortable dining room accented with beautifully restored tin ceilings, fine art photography and toasty fireplaces. Outside, soak up the sun on plush outdoor seating on the historic porch, with sweeping views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.”
Jon and I opted for the porch. Even though it was nippy out, the sun was shining and I was longing for sun on my face. We donned our sunglasses and sat at the long bar that faces towards the sweeping views as all of the other tables were full or reserved.
The menu consists of oysters, soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees including Marin Mediterranean Mussels with Thai green curry, $16; Skywalker Ranch Squash Tortellini with brown butter emulsion, crispy sage and pistachios, $17; and Skywalker Ranch Wagyu Beef Meatloaf with a spicy tomato sauce, $25. Both Jon and I opted for the lunch tasting menu which comes with four tasting portions all at once plus dessert for $25.
The ambiance was fantastic, the service great, and the views out-of-this-world. The food however was fine. It was prepared well, presented well, but didn’t knock my socks off by any means. I’d have to go back for dinner to really make that my final determination, but the lunch food wasn’t memorable. http://www.cavallopoint.com/
The end of our lunch was interrupted by the Blue Angels who flew right over our heads many times as they practiced for the Fleet Week air show that was happening the next weekend. Since we were close, we drove to the Headlands and climbed up to the top to get closer to the planes. The swooped just over the top of the Golden Gate Bridge and continued to buzz us and we were pleasantly surprised that only about 30-40 other people had found the best seats in the city for the performance.
In the late afternoon, we made our second food stop of the day at Swan Oyster Depot on Polk, a local hotspot with multigenerational owners and help working behind the counter. We felt like we had just walked into the Bronx in NY when entering. Big, friendly guys who were a little gruff around the edges greeted us from behind the counter and were ribbing Jon for the SF Giants hat he was wearing — Ballsy for sure in SF territory. That then started a sports debate behind the counter to the enjoyment of the customers.
Swan Oyster Depot is small and narrow with a front window filled with ice and seafood, then a long counter that’s constantly full of customers. The Bronx-like guys were very accommodating. Three different people asked if we’d been helped as we waited for seats to open up. The place is only open from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., so we were glad that we had popped in early to check-it out.
When seats opened up, Jon ordered a beer and I a split of champagne and we shared a dozen oysters, clam chowder and a crab cocktail. It’s all great, with the behind-the-counter entertainment and friendly stool-side neighbors. One of our neighbors was a local, who like me, was celebrating her birthday. After finishing work early that day, she decided to treat herself to some oysters and champagne before meeting her friends and family for dinner. Swan Oyster Depot is located at 1517 Polk St., San Francisco (415) 673-2757.
With our bellies full, we decided to nap back at our hotel before deciding which wonderful restaurant to try for dinner. Unfortunately, we awoke at 9:30 p.m., peeked at the score of the Giants game, then fell back to sleep until 11:30 p.m. Well, if you wake up in Davis at 11:30 p.m. expecting a meal, you have to head to a fast food restaurant or perhaps I-Hop. In San
Francisco, the nice restaurants have stopped serving by then, but you still have many food choices. We passed small pizza and hamburger joints and diners, then saw an Irish Pub (there’s one on every corner it seems) with celebrating Giants fans spilling out of the doorway.
We entered Lefty O’Doul’s http://www.leftyodouls.biz/ to find a full-on sandwich and meat carving station open, similar to Sam’s Hof Brau in Sacramento with French dips, turkey dips, etc., with the expected mashed potatoes, green beans, soup, etc. It wasn’t what we expected to eat that night, but we were glad that we were in a city that was still serving food in a bar full of grown-ups instead of at Froggy’s surrounded by college students doing Jager shots. After dinner, we squeezed up to the bar. Piano music filled the room with songs like “Delta Dawn” and Jon and I and the rest of the happy crowd sang along.
So, after day two, we were batting .500. We were one for two each day. I’m not counting the Irish Pub… That was just for survival, not a dining experience. For the record though, I wouldn’t eat there again. I would try Murray Circle if we were staying at the resort, but wouldn’t make a special trip over for the food. Stay tuned for days three and four of our San Francisco restaurant adventure…