We finally made it to Gary Danko – a one-star Michelin restaurant located in North Beach area of the city. Ever since we moved here, we’ve heard rave reviews. It definitely has one of the better reputations of restaurants in the city and is known for its consistency and contemporary cuisine. Reading Chef Danko’s bio, I was struck by how eclectic his background is; the write-up references about five different styles of cooking, and that definitely shows through in the cuisine. Every dish is classically prepared, but the ingredients are surprising and range of options vast in comparison to some of the other well-known and pricier restaurants.
I opted for the Chef’s five-course tasting menu and wine pairing, and the husband ordered the four-course a la carte option.
Cute little take-me-home item:
Every dish was cooked to perfection and well-prepared. My favorite courses were probably the second course (the flavors of the salmon were SO up my alley!! with the mustard, dill and horseradish combo- yum!), the cheese course and the dessert. The cheese course was so fun – they actually pull a cheese cart up to the table and have you pick four of your favorites. I ended up picking a combination of soft and hard cheeses and goat and sheep’s milk. The bleu cheese was amazing, as was the Irish Gouda. The dessert was SO delicious and just tasted like the holidays with the nutmeg and gingerbread combination!
The husband ordered the Ahi-tuna, scallops, guinea hen and chocolate souffle. The tuna was UNreal- probably some of the best in quantity, flavor, and quality that I’ve had in the city. The guinea hen was one of the most surprisingly delicious dishes I’ve ever tasted! It was recommended to us by the server and I totally know why.
My first course of the oysters was surprisingly fishy – I don’t normally associate oysters with that taste and I had a hard time with the oysters being chilled, yet the cream was warm. The caviar was delicious, as was the cream, but I had a hard time with the fishy flavor and different temperatures. The filet was wonderfully prepared, and I loved the shallots, but I still wish there had been a teensy bit more flavor to the dish.
The service was great- though they did seem a bit under-staffed for the evening. The cheese cart, while awesome, was in high demand and got a little backed up in orders- perhaps it is a little impractical?
Overall- very enjoyable experience at Gary Danko. We loved that the restaurant was pretty hopping- not as quiet as some of the other nice places. It had a chic and modern feel to it with the decor and more of a fun atmosphere than stuffy. Everything was consistent and delicious- I can see why it’s gained such a popular reputation in the city and it definitely fits the laid-back and eclectic vibe of San Francisco!
Pros: Amazing, consistently, well-prepared food; wide range of options (not tied to a chef’s tasting menu, can order a la carte, different flavors, fish and meat); great service; laid-back atmosphere; close to North Beach but still in quieter/residential area; 75-seat restaurant (medium-sized for the city)
Cons: Definitely on the expensive-side (but not too bad in comparison to some of the other Michelin-starred restaurants); busy atmosphere- pretty bustling and fun- not exactly private; some of the dishes do err on the side of safety (not going to see any fancy Grant Achatz style things) but that’s probably why he’s able to offer such range AND consistency
Good for: Date nights; fancy celebration dinners; client dinners; birthday dinners; people watching