September 12, 2011

The Cliff House: San Francisco

I started plotting our food adventure the moment I heard we were flying to San Francisco and traveling up the coast to Portland. The first day’s agenda was clear: get off the plane in San Francisco, pick up the rental car, stop by the Ghirardelli factory for fresh chocolate, and swiftly make our way to Sutro’s at the Cliff House. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and a national park, the Cliff House is absolutely gorgeous. The building itself leaves much to be desired but there is natural beauty abound. One cannot help but stare out of the soaring windows during the entire meal.

The restaurant has mixed reviews; however, trusted family members knew we would love it. They were right. The waiter immediately saw the ravenous look in our eyes and supplied us with a never ending bread basket while we looked over the menu. Stick with what this place is known for.  Pacific seafood is their game so don’t you dare get the lamb sandwich (I was tempted after seeing a waiter pass with an enormous, meaty sandwich and glistening fries). 

We started with the ahi tuna tartare encircled with pine nuts, asian pears, mint, habanero and a quail egg. The waiter mixes it for you (how old school) and the flavors meld perfectly together. The fresh salmon was cooked to perfection, most likely because it was pan seared in bacon drippings (hello, lover). My husband devoured an entire shellfish seafood platter like a kid set loose in a candy store. 

I can’t say anything bad about the Cliff House. It was a classic food experience with some major high points and a few so-so attributes. The dessert list was circa 2000 but still tasty. The glass of pinot noir wasn’t stellar but exactly what I needed after a long flight from Baltimore. 

This was the perfect beginning to a fantastic vacation. 

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