This is very embarrassing okay, I am the queen of procrastination, in fact I am so good at it I think I transcend the natural boundaries of civilization and I can go be a prideful little dame in my own country with my own special band of procrastinator sidekicks. I amaze myself!
Anyway, on to more important things! So ZY was a dear and made a reservation at Gary Danko, one of the top-notch, most widely-acclaimed restaurants in the Bay Area and the proud owner of two Michelin Stars. It was a very special day indeed (: Reservations are really hard to come by, so even though he called about a month in advance, we only managed to secure a 10 o’clock spot because we wanted a Saturday night. But I’m not complaining because 10 o’clock dinners are cool okay (plus they minimize the possibility of the horrifying tummy growl in the middle of the night).
It was obvious that they tried to squeeze as many tables as possible into the limited space they had, but the elegance of the establishment was not lost. The lighting was dim and the quiet, slight chatter in the background eased the butterflies in my stomach – I was actually slightly nervous about the dress code and having to pronounce all the exotic menu items that I was sure would trip up my tongue. This place was packed at 10 o’clock, and we got really interesting seats side by side along the way. (Even now, when the occasion lends itself to our having to be seated in a similar fashion Mr ZY would often affectionately refer to it as being reminiscent of the “Gary Danko Days”.)
Okay, fast forward past our very friendly waitress and the ordering. Between the two of us, we had:
Amuse Bouche on the house
Seared Ahi Tuna with Avocado, Nori, Enoki Mushrooms and Lemon Sauce Dressing.
Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Red Onions, Seckel Pear and Huckleberries
Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Fall Root Vegetables and Sage Oil
Seared Sea Scallops with Butternut Squash Puree, Roasted Cauliflower, Pistachios and Sour Cherries
Beef Tenderloin with King Trumpet Mushrooms, Potato Gratin, Cipollini Onions and Stitton Butter
Chocolate Souffle with Two Sauces
Trio of Creme Brulee with Cookies
Complimentary Birthday Mignardises on the house
Pineapple Muffin on the house
First up was the complimentary amuse bouche, of which I did not catch the name. It’s a Thai-concoction that tasted like fusion tom yum soup, but there was a very interesting milky flavor laced within that made for an exciting combination. A great palate teaser!
The appetizers we chose were the ahi tuna, the lobster risotto and the foie gras. While ZY immediately fell in love with the tuna and later proclaimed it to be the highlight of the light, my first taste of authentic foie gras made me an instant convert. The delightful fattiness of the foie gras melted into the sweetness of the caramelized onions and was absolutely stunning. Being the carb monster that I am, I was absolutely won over by the lobster risotto that was a star in its own right, the creamy buttery cheese studded with large generous pieces of lobster that provided a refreshing contrast to the otherwise heavy dish.
I thought the scallops were nothing out of the blue, but the cauliflower puree that came along with it was lip-smacking delicious and completely upstaged the sea gems. ZY liked the beef tenderloin but it was forgettable for me, I was never much of a steak person anyway. The cheese was a novelty for the both of us, we got two goat cheeses, a cow cheese, and a Roaring Bleu that came with grapes and bread (I was looking forward to fig to go with the cheese but, alas! :() We found that we were both partial to the milder cheeses, these had a sweet aftertaste that were not overpowering in their stench. The blue still had that characteristic taste that feels like petrol to me.
Dessert! Oooh, dessert, crowning glory, how mighty art thou. The chocolate souffle with two sauces was OUT OF THIS WORLD, the thick anglaise and dark chocolate sauces were poured into a little hole on the top of the airy souffle at our table, and even as the waitress was performing her art I was secretly chanting “more, more, more” over and over again in my weak heart that is unable to take excitement very well. The sauces were piping hot and worked like a charm with the soft souffle with its tender under belly that crumbled instantly under the attack of the potent liquids. The creme brulee was good, but toward the end me and ZY were simply dying from an overload of food (never thought the day would come). When the mignardises came I could feel him ready to start groaning but I was still very delighted, particularly because this little plate of darlings had a single candle and “Happy Birthday” written on it :) I was a happy camper.
Service was excellent, attentive without being intrusive. We each had the four-course dinner, which totaled up to 162 dollars before tax. It was an amazing experience, and of course what that made it most special was the efforts ZY had taken to plan the dinner. At the end of the day, food is still that poignant representation of love, at once sweet and spicy, tender and tangy, transforming the cold night into a scene by the fireplace on the eve of Christmas. Bells toll and the heart bursts with care and hospitality, isn’t that what everything is about?
Thanks for the company.
Gary Danko (link)
800 North Point at Hyde Street