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450 Post St. (near Powell St.) San Francisco
Cuisine:Seafood with a French touch Pluses: Minuses: Price:
Pluses: Dramatic setting, wonderfully inventive dishes.
Minuses: Certain seating areas can be noisy.
Price: Appetizers $10-$16; Entrees $17-$29
Overview: Hours: Lunch and dinner daily.
This Pat Kuleto design, located partially in what was the pool area of the Elks club, is a fantasy of undersea splendor. One seating area's banquettes are shaped like a sea snail's shell, glistening marbles - like caviar - are imbedded in the stairway rising to the second level seating. Overhead, jellyfish light fixtures dangle over the bar and first dining area. The primo place to sit is the main dining room, in the former pool area, which faces a semi-open cooking line. There are Neptune-themed murals and a copper clad bar area with scale-like decor. The oysters on the half shell are a good way to start, unless you're really a raw seafood fanatic and then the "indulgence' featuring oysters, prawns, clams, mussels, crayfish, cockles and homemade caviar is the way to go - not bad for $16.75 per person. Another good starter is the salmon and oyster ceviche. There's a roast salmon with potato gnocchi, seared sea scallops or grilled bluefin tuna to delight fishophiles, while the "alternative" eaters will enjoy the Sonoma quail or the vegetarian medley. Desserts by the estimable Emily Luchetti, like the co-owner and executive chef Mark Franz, she had her start at Stars, are some of the best in the city. The hot fudge cake is satiny and sinful; while the frozen banana parfait or better yet the plate of cookies and chocolates, all made in-house, will almost send you to heaven.