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252 California St (near Battery St)
San Francisco, CA 94111 (415) 956-9662
Pluses: Stylish decor and food.
Minuses: Can be a little noisy at peak hours. Difficult street parking, but also parking at the Embarcadero Center.
Don't Miss: Any of the foie gras dishes; tasting menus.
Prices: Expensive, entrees $33-$38
Overview: Open Monday-Friday lunch and dinner; Saturday dinner only
All credit cards accepted
Without a doubt the city's most creative seafood restaurant, it is also the prettiest, with clean architectural lines, dramatic lighting, and a half-dozen towering bouquets of fresh flowers. The service strikes the proper balance between relaxed friendliness and sharp professionalism. The food, orchestrated by Executive Chef Laurent Manrique, is a tour de force of juxtaposed flavors that rarely misses the mark. Examples include1 3/4 Pound Steamed Maine Lobster "Casserole,"with Roasted Squash, Cipollini Onions, &Truffle Chantilly; Wild King Salmon with Morel Mushrooms, Leeks, Potato Gnocchi, Chive Cream; and Petrale Sole with Gratin of Artichokes & Manilla Clams, Pistachio, & Basil Emulsion. Most of the sauces forgo butter and cream, deriving their intense flavors from the extraction and reduction of vegetable or meat juices. Flavored oils also are used to add color and tang. The ever-changing desserts look as spectacular as they taste, and the wine list is expertly matched to the imaginative menu.