With such close proximity to Napa Valley (my new favourite place) it is inevitable that San Francisco is also an exciting foodie hub. The culinary scene is incredibly diverse and varied with many award-winning restaurants covering a multitude of different types of cuisine. Once again I did my research and got my bookings in early so Mr Silver and I didn’t miss out on some of the top restaurants in one of America’s culinary capitals.
Before coming out to San Francisco, our hotel advised me that Charles Phan’s Vietnamese restaurant, The Slanted Door, was one of the hottest restaurant’s in town. Later, when I spoke to a few locals they told me it was more a place for tourists, either way the food and the views were fantastic.
The restaurant is located in The Ferry Building, a local foodie hub containing a farmers market open three days a week, artisan shops and several restaurants and cafes. The Ferry Building can be found along the Embarcadero, a location that Mr S and I revisited several times during our stay.
The view over the Bay Bridge is striking.
The restaurant was packed out and incredibly buzzy. I can see why they get booked out so far in advance, it’s clearly a very popular dining destination. The interior is sleek and modern being comprised mostly of glass and steel fittings.
The menu was so full of exciting Vietnamese dishes, subtly modernised by Phan.
We chose a selection of four small dishes and one main course:
Slanted door spring rolls with shrimp, pork and mint which I love as a light alternative to crispy spring rolls. We also chose perennial favs, pork spare ribs for Mr S, soft shell crab and yellow tail sashimi. Main course was a succulent whole roasted branzino (Sea bass) with a piquant fish sauce. We enjoyed every single morsel as the quality was so fantastic. Phan meticulously chooses his ingredients and selects only the best of locally sourced produce.
So tourist trap or local hot spot? Who really cares, the food was fantastic!
Another trip to The Embarcadero took us to La Mar, a restaurant specialising in Peruvian seafood. Mr Silver and I have developed a love of the South American cuisine now that it is so popular and accessible in London.
The restaurant has an ideal location right on the pier
Mr Silver loves boats, so you can see why he was so happy!
Our waiter bought out of pot of these sweet potato and banana crisps which were ridiculously addictive…
But I’m basically a sucker for anything salty and crunchy!
We started with a sampler selection of the classic Peruvian dish, ceviche.
Mr Silver and I love the light tang of seafood ceviche and these were all delicious and included a selection of seafood such as shrimp, calamari, octopus and tuna in tiger’s milk (a Peruvian term for a citrusy marinade used to cure the ceviche.
A tiradito passion made up of thinly sliced tuna with passion fruit tiger’s milk.
For something a little more substantial we shared a sampler plate of empanadas, these are basically the Peruvian version of a cornish pasty, though perhaps a little spicier! Mr S polished the beef one, I noshed on the mushroom and we split the last one that contained a classic Peruvian chicken stew.
Finally, some anticuchos, traditional grilled skewers inspired by Peruvian street food. The selection was flat iron steak, grilled chicken and grilled yellowtail all of which were accompanied by fried potatoes. Another winner from La Mar!! I really love Peruvian cuisine and I adored both the setting and the food of this restaurant, it was actually my favourite of all the places that we ate in San Francisco.
After lunch it was time to explore the pier and we headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf. The area was very full of people and incredibly touristy, unless you are set on seeing it, I would give it a miss apart from this fantastic place:
Being a lefty myself I have often suffered with the curse of being in the minority, smudging all my work at school (I had to be given a special pen), notebooks and ring binders are impossible to write in and scissors and can openers are just not made for us! My sister and I are two left-handers born to two righties and have become used to using our knife and fork the ‘right way’ round! But it was fab to find this gem of a store that would give Ned Flander’s Leftorium competition!
After this amazing discovery it was time to catch our boat to Alcatraz Island….
For me, this was one of the most exciting parts of our stay in San Francisco, I love visiting places that allow to interact with history.
So we could get a feel for what it was like for the inmates of this maximum security prison. The audio tour led us around the historic site telling us about some of the facts about famous prisoners, living conditions and the notorious attempts at escape.
Apparently there’s more than one use for one of these!
Fancy dinner and movie? Well you can cover both bases with a date night at Foreign Cinema located in the vibrant Mission district of San Francisco.
The restaurant has a cool urban vibe, and foreign and independent films are shown in the outdoor covered courtyard. I’ve already admitted to that when it comes to ‘cinema’ I’d choose a rom-com or chick flick over something art house, so we gave the film a miss and concentrated on the food.
Food is Californian with a Mediterranean influence. We shared starters:
Sardines on toast with cucumber raita and dill were a lovely crunchy bite.
Pacific tuna poke with daikon sprouts and avocado was perfect. Though we laughed the ‘waffled potatoes’ described on the menu were crinkle cut crisps (or chips, a mistake we kept on making throughout our time in the US). We also chose a local Napa Wine to accompany the meal.
As with many of the restaurants in San Francisco, Foreign Cinema emphasises local ingredients smoked salmon is from Santa Barbara, calamari is from Monterey and lettuce is from Sonoma. ‘Farm-to-table’ dining is concept that we noticed was prevalent when dining in the United States. And it is one that was pioneered in California by Alice Waters who was incredibly influential in spreading the idea of eating organic, sustainable produce from local sources.
We went our separate ways for main course as Mr Silver was missing his meat and chose a lamb mixed grill.
He loved the perfectly cooked and the Mediterranean accompaniments of figs and an olive sauce.
I chose a dish of sole, clams and fingerling potatoes which was lovely and I was pleased to have a small portion after eating so much food already!
Foreign Cinema serves fantastic food with a wonderful concept of having your whole date night under one roof. We chose to also forgo the bar, Laszlo as we’d had a long day visiting Alcatraz but we popped our heads through the door and agreed it looked like a fab place to enjoy a post movie cocktail.
Instead, feeling a little tipsy, we returned to our hotel, The Clift
. The hotel has a fabulously funky lobby designed by Philippe Starck and full of unusual art pieces such as this apple in a bowler hat.
A Viking bench and best of all…
This massive chair that made me feel like Alice in Wonderland!!
And even made the strapping Mr Silver look mini. Now he know what it’s like when your feet can’t touch the ground on a chair. #Shortgirlproblems… But I digress… The Clift also has a gorgeous bar called The Velvet Room which we never had a chance to enjoy but it was sumptuously decorated and always packed with people.
For our last day in San Francisco we once again returned to the Embarcadero to try Water Bar, a seafood restaurant with stunning views of the bay and the Bay Bridge.
I love choosing restaurants with a view as it gives me a real feel for the place I’m in. As much as I love fine dining and sexy sushi places I have enough of these in London to keep me happy!
Waterbar’s menu showcases a great selection of sustainable seafood and oysters sourced from the West Coast of America. The menu often changes to ensure freshness and lists exactly where everything is from right down to the farm source.
We shared starters of a salmon ceviche with yellow corn and shrimp toast with avocado and soft boiled egg. You can probably tell from the photographs that the dishes weren’t out of this world but the flavours were certainly decent and the view and ambiance more than more up for it.
We both chose the perch with a quinoa salad and roast vegetables, we preferred the main dish to our starters but I still wouldn’t rave about it. Water Bar is fabulous for views but not so much for food, it’s definitely a place for tourists. But, seeing as we are tourists, that’s ok by us!!
On the final night of our stay in San Francisco we wanted to try somewhere very special. With a popular restaurant already established in Napa, chef Hiro Sone and his wife Lissa Doumani decided to make the move into San Francisco for their fusion restaurant, Ame. Located in the St Regis hotel, the cuisine at Ame is a skilful fusion of East meets West.
The bar at the St Regis was a suitably plush choice for our first drink of the night.
The St Regis is the place to stay in San Francisco for total, all out luxury. We chose to stay in The Clift as we wanted a sexy, buzzy hotel with good nightlife and a bangin’ bar. The bar at the St Regis was gorgeous and much more relaxed than the Velvet Room at The Clift.
The interior of Ame is Asian inspired, dark, sleek and seductive.
Perfect for a date night…
As you may have noticed, Mr Silver and I love trying a bit of everything and if there’s some form of sampler or sharing platter on the menu, we’re having it!
Starting from the top left, sashimi salad with Japanese, cucumber and yuzu vinegrette, a simply prepared crudo of the day (I can’t remember what it was!), ceviche of Amberjack and the rather oddly named Lissa’s staff meal, which contained cuttlefish noodles tossed with sea urchin, quails egg and soy sauce.
We also couldn’t resist one of our favourites, raw tuna topped with an egg! Though I preferred the flavours at La Mar, Ame was Mr S’s favourite. I have to agree that the quality the cooking was the best we tried during our time in San Francisco. It’s no wonder the former Napa-based chefs have a Michelin star for this restaurant.
When deciding on main courses, I didn’t need to think twice, ‘I’m having the lobster’ I announced.
My whole Maine Lobster was served with broccoli and sea urchin butter. It was beautifully cooked and I liked the fact that I could very easily eat the lobster meat without lots of extra tools!
And one of our favourites, black cod with shrimp dumplings in a shiso broth. Absolutely outstanding! Ame is a fusion restaurant and does offer more ‘Western’ food options but Mr S and I love Asian food so we stuck more to the East End of the menu.
Though there’s nothing quite as American as apple pie… actually this a summer berry pie with cream cheese ice cream. I promise it was Mr S’s idea to get a dessert!
And on our last night we were in the mood for dancing… I’d heard The Top of the Mark
, the bar on the top of the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel had one of the best views over San Francisco so that’s where we headed…
Ok, the bar wasn’t super trendy and cool, I think you can tell by the carpet…yes I do have an obsession was carpets! I just like nice ones. But the view was spectacular and we could see San Francisco glittering beneath us.
There was also a live band so we put on our dancing shoes…
And did a rendition of our wedding dance!
A great way to spend our final night.
So as you can see in coming to San Francisco, we visited several different places, Peru, Japan, Vietnam and ummm…Prison!!
If you’re enjoying my honeymoon adventures please follow me on twitter: @SilverspoonLDN
and look out for the hashtag #SilverSpoonOnHoneymoon.