2013

Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco

Posted by Foodnut.com

Reviewer: Foodnut.com

Gary Danko

800 North Point Street (At Hyde)

San Francisco, CA 94109

415-749-2060

Gary Danko Website

Gary Danko San Francisco Exterior

Restaurant Gary Danko is one of the top restaurants in San Francisco, they serve contemporary American cuisine. Open in 1999 and located near Ghiradelli Square, it has been at the top of the Zagat Guide and Yelp for the last couple years. In 2013 they exceeded French Laundry’s food rating in Zagat. We would question that figure though! They have one Michelin Star. “Danko combines classical training with focuses on French, Mediterranean, and regional American cooking. He incorporates influential culinary traditions from around the world into his own work, adding seasonings and techniques drawn from Asia and India.” Gary Danko Menu has not changed much over the years, given his conservative clientele.

They accept reservations 60 days in advance. In 2013, we found that this place was extremely booked, forcing us to make reservations 2 months in advance. Insider tip, the private room is often available for an early 5:30 dinner for 5 or more people, with standard menu, 18% gratuity, and no deposit!

Gary Danko San Francisco Interior

Decor, Vibe – Stylish, elegant decor with lots of marble, wood, and beautiful flower arrangements. Upstairs private dining room. The bathroom has a zen spa like feel. Mostly well dressed older folks from the 40′s to 60′s, not very mixed, were dining at Gary Danko. We would say the Gary Danko dress code is of the most formal in the City. Smart Casual, forget the t=shirt and flip flops! That said, some San Franciscans do not follow the dress code and are a bit too casual.

A note on dining at the bar. One time, we did not have a reservation so we dined at the 11 seat bar. We do not recommend this! You just do not get the entire effect of the dining experience.

This restaurant has gotten pretty loud. Not exactly a romantic spot.


Strawberry Souffle Video

Gary Danko Menu

At this restaurant, you can order a la carte from the Gary Danko menu, or select 3, 4, or 5 courses at a $73, $92, and $107, respectively. The prices have gone up over the years.. of course. You can order 5 meat dishes if you so desire!  They do scale portion size down when you get more courses. A $107 tasting menu, and vegetarian menu are also available. Appetizers are available in entree sized portions. Gary Danko’s Menu changes seasonally, but not by very much. The accompaniments or sides might slightly vary. Clearly the regulars have their favorite dishes, so these will stay on forever. Consistency is their greatest attribute, they do not want to be inventive like Saison or Benu.

Signature dishes – Scallops, roast lobster, Ahi, butter cake, Souffle.

Website Gary Danko Menu

Gary Danko Full Picture Set

Gary Danko Food Picks:

Amuse Bouche of Seared Ahi Tuna on a crisp was a nice complimentary bite sized starter with very fresh fish. Vegetarian amuse bouche was a vegetable sushi. On another occasion we received Zucchini Gazpacho.

Mojito ($12) was top notch. Tall, not too sweet but not too strong. Lots of fresh mint.

Vanilla Lemon drop ($14) was also well made. Strong, not too sweet and beautiful.

Gary Danko San Francisco Lobster Risotto

Risotto with Lobster, Golf Shrimp, Shimeji Mushrooms and Corn and Roast Tomatoes was very good but a touch on the rich side. The lobster and shrimp were in limited quantity but high on the quality side. This is a signature dish, but very filling.

Gary Danko San Francisco Ahi Tuna

Seared Ahi Tuna with Avocado, Nori, Enoki Mushrooms and Lemon Soy Dressing is also a signature dish. Fresh fish, thinly sliced, arranged in a beautiful manner. It seems like every restaurant in San Francisco has Ahi Tuna on the menu! This is better than most.

Glazed Oysters with Osetra Caviar, Zucchini Pearls and Lettuce Cream is a popular starter that reminds us of French Laundry’s Oysters and Pearls.  While not as great, this dish hit the mark with its decadent ingredients.

Sweet Corn Soup with Dungeness Crab, Creme Fraiche, Bacon and a Chive Biscuit was the creamy side but featured some strong corn flavor and lots of fresh crab.

Gary Danko San Francisco Foie Gras

Seared Sonoma Foie Gras with Caramelized Red Onions and Rhubarb ($20/$39) was excellent and a pretty good sized Sonoma product. Another signature dish. The restrained sweetness of the rhubarb contrasted nicely with the hearty foie gras. The carmelized onions also helped mitigate the need for starch to balance this dish out. On one occasion, we felt the onions were a bit strong. Portion size with a 5 course meal is a lot smaller. Alexander’s also serves a Foie Gras to this level of performance.

Gary Danko San Francisco Soft Shell Crab

Soft Shell Crab with White Polenta, Pickled Ginger, Sesame and Lime was very good. The crab was not heavily battered, nor was it too big. The polenta had strong lime flavor without being buttered up.

Lobster Salad with Avocado, Citrus, Shaved Fennel with Meyer Lemon-Tarragon Vinaigrette was a nice light salad after the hearty foie.  The sour cream based dressing had a bit too much sourness to it.  Tasty lobster and very fresh greens and avocado. Little chunks of salts provided a nice touch.

Dungeness Crab Salad with Melons, Cucumbers, Roasted Eggplant and Thai Mango Dressing was ordered because crabs were in season. This salad featured some interesting spices, lots of fresh crab, and some nice sweet, crunch interaction.

Gary Danko San Francisco Lobster

Roast Maine Lobster with Potato Purée, Shitake Mushrooms, Corn and Tarragon had very fresh lobster that was steamed for 5 minutes, the shell cleaned, then the dish was roasted in the oven. Well done, tender, very juicy and one of the best lobsters around. Quantities were not on the high side for this dish. This is their definitive signature dish and a must order!

Gary Danko San Francisco Scallop

Seared Sea Scallops with Butternut Squash Purée, Roasted Apples, Shallots and Red Peppers had one large scallop with a thin caramelized crust that could have been more resilient.  The puree went well to accent the scallop.  Another diner got a scallop far smaller than the others.

Gary Danko San Francisco Salmon Medallion

Horseradish Crusted Salmon Medallion with Dilled Cucumbers and Mustard Sauce was interesting but very good. The Salmon medallion was molded round then had horseradish put on top and a crust applied. It was then pan seared, but did not achieve a level of crispiness that would have made it better. In any case, the very fresh fish was cooked perfectly.

Gary Danko San Francisco quail

Pan Roasted Quail Stuffed with Cornbread and Pancetta with Maitake Mushrooms and Smoked Ham Hocks was recommended by the server. Two very large and tender birds, stuffed and deboned. Frankly we were so full, we ate most of it the next day. Lots of strong flavors make this a great dish if you like quail.

Gary Danko San Francisco Duck Breast

Lemon Pepper Duck Breast with Duck Hash, Celery Root-Garlic Purée and Cardamom Poached Pears was a very hearty entree of significant size.  Cooked to a perfect medium rare and tender level, it could have used more pears to contrast the heartiness.

Gary Danko San Francisco pork tenderloin

Hazelnut Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Braised Cheeks, Shimeji Mushrooms, Kale and Fava Beans was also highly recommended by the server. Definitely one of their best meat dishes. Cooked to a medium rare, extremely tender and full of flavor. Better than the filet of beef.

Seared Filet of Beef with Cumin Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tomato-corn Relish and Basil Butter is probably one of their more popular dishes. The meat quality was very high and the cooking style created a nice crisp crust, but flavors were lacking. Potatoes were definitely a standout part of this dish.

Herb Crusted Loin of Lamb with Summer Vegetable Tian and Polenta has lots of thin slices of medium rare lamb. High quality meat with no gaminess. Polenta was a bit soft and neutral.

Roast Loin of Bison with King Trumpet Mushrooms, Cipollini Onions and Herb Spätzle was on the lower flavor side, but had a nice crust and chewiness to it. Surprisingly not gamey.

 

Gary Danko San Francisco Chocolate Souffle

Baked Chocolate Soufflé with Two Sauces Chocolate and Gran Marnier was a must get decadent dessert. Perfect souffle and 2 sauces that were not too sweet, so they would not drown out the quality of the baking. Perfect texture and lots of air to make your waist line feel better.

Seasonal Sorbet Sampler with Cookies had a smooth coconut, sweet and strong passion fruit, and raspberry. One was far too tart.  All clearly homemade and a nice way to round out a filling meal.

Gary Danko San Francisco Louisiana butter cake

Warm Louisiana Butter Cake with Peaches, Blueberry Compote and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream was recommended by the server as a signature dish. Beautiful, rich, sticky and chewy, this was an excellent dessert if you like cake.

Trio of Crème Brûlée with Assorted Cookies had a vanilla, lemon, and bourbon along with some freshly made cookies.  All had a nice hard torched crust. The bourbon was fairly subtle.

Gary Danko San Francisco Petit Fours

Petit Fours were excellent home made chocolates, fruit squares, candied nuts.

Gary Danko San Francisco Pound Cake

The excellent Gary Danko Pound cake to go was a nice touch for breakfast the next morning. In 2010 we received a pumpkin cheesecake. They also have pineapple and peach versions.

Gary Danko San Francisco Cheese Cart

Extensive Cheese Cart with local, domestic, and international cheeses. We sampled several cheese and found them excellent.

OK:

Coconut Thai Curry with Shrimp, Calamari, Lobster, Scallops, Scallions and Shiitake Mushrooms was a change of pace for us.  We wanted to try something other than lobster, lobster, lobster..  Nice bit of heat, but not a lot of seafood except for the scallop. OK dish, but not exceptional.

Branzini with Fennel Puree, Nicoise Olives and Saffron-Orange Emulsion was a fish dish that we decided to try. While very good, this was not excellent due to its fishy qualities.

Pan Seared Bass with Arugula Pesto, Herbed Gnocchi, Tomato Confit, Preserved Meyer Lemon and Pinenuts was also a bit fishy.  The gnocchi was done well though. Restaurants like Boulevard do this 100% perfect.. Order something else.

Mushroom Dusted Sea Scallops with English Pea Purée, Shimeji Mushrooms and Meyer Lemon were 2 reasonably sized scallops.  One still had some ‘crunchy’ residue and clearly was not cleaned well. Both did not have much crispy caramelized crust.  The crust was more a visible decoration.

Creme Fraiche Cheesecake with Berries, Spiced Pecans and Strawberry Ice Cream just did not hit the mark.

Pans:
Strawberry Soufflé with Strawberry Sauce and Strawberry Sorbet is just too sweet.  Order chocolate instead.

We have eaten at Gary Danko several times before, and service has always been top notch. It is interesting that they have older, more experienced waiters than other top restaurants in The City. There are so many waiters and helpers running around, you have to wonder how they why they don’t collide. Service at the bar and in the private room was excellent. The waiter (There was a separate bartender) was knowledgeable and very friendly. He knew the menu inside and out.  Even for large parties, they bring all the food out and serve everyone at the same time.

Gary Danko remains the top restaurant in San Francisco, with excellent food and some of the best service around. You have to venture outside San Francisco to find places like French Laundry or Las Vegas to top Gary Danko, or hit the best in Paris. Saison and Benu are a lot more New American compared to Danko. If you are a foodie on a limited budget, consider Chapeau! You will be surprised at the level of food and prices there.

Gary Danko has a very extensive wine selection spanning 15 countries and vintages spanning 3 centuries with high markup. Glasses from $18, Bottles from $35, Half bottles from $29, Corkage $35, Wine pairings available.

Gary Danko on Urbanspoon

Gary Danko Overall Rating: (Excellent 3)

Come Back?

Food Rating: (Excellent)
Service Rating: (Excellent)
Atmosphere Rating: (Excellent)
Value Rating: (Good)

Guide: 0 = poor, 1 = Below/Average, 2 = Good, 2.5 = Very Good, 3 = Excellent , 4 = Extraordinary

Alcohol:Full Bar
Attire:Formal
Hours:Daily 5:30 - 10pm
Parking:Street, Paid Valet $11
Reservations:Yes
Prices:$73 - $107
Posted on September 29th, 2013
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15 Responses to “Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco”

  1. Zagat 2010 San Francisco Guide is now available | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] Food: Gary Danko, Cyrus, French Laundry, Kiss Seafood, [...]

  2. Chapeau! Restaurant Review, San Francisco, 94118, Richmond District, French Bistro | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] definitely come back and would highly recommend this place in a heartbeat. Having eaten at top tier Gary Danko the day before made us appreciate how high the quality of food is [...]

  3. New 2010 San Francisco Michelin Guide | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] the Ritz Carlton El Paseo (closed) etoile Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant Fifth Floor Fleur de Lys Gary Danko La Folie La Toque Luce Madrona Manor Masa’s Murray Circle One Market Plumed Horse Quince Range [...]

  4. Emily Says:

    I read your review about Gary Danko and was wondering why you would not recommend dining at the bar? My bf and I are visiting the city in a few weeks and thought we would TRY to get there at 5 and eat at the bar. Do you know if you can order a la carte or if you have to do the tasting menu?

    Thanks!

  5. Food Nut Says:

    While eating at the bar will let you enjoy their fine food, we feel 1/3 of the experience is the acrobatic service. You would not enjoy that at the bar. Eat at the bar only as a last resort.

    You can order a la carte at the bar like we did in the past.

  6. Auberge du Soleil Restaurant, Rutherford | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] While prices are high, food quality is high and so is food quantity. Comparable restaurants like Gary Danko and Masa’s charge about the same but don’t offer stellar [...]

  7. benu restaurant Restaurant, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] everyone. We can already hear some Yelper criticizing the quantity and weirdness of food served. Gary Danko and French Laundry are more mainstream for the masses. Some of the combinations need refinement, so [...]

  8. La Folie Restaurant Review, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] – In the same class of San Francisco restaurants: Gary Danko, Masa’s, Fleur De Lys, Ritz-Carlton Dining Room. On a budget, hit [...]

  9. Michael Mina Restaurant, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] does Michael Mina compare to top San Francisco restaurants like Gary Danko? This restaurant definitely belongs in the same league again. If you are on a budget, come to [...]

  10. Koi Palace, Daly City - Lunch, Dim Sum | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] While we went for Dim Sum lunch, Koi Palace has an extensive, fancy, and expensive dinner menu with dinners for 10, at up to $678. You’ll get top notch ingredients in your meal, but won’t get service like Gary Danko. [...]

  11. Boulevard Restaurant, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] its value. With prices this high, people start to compare Boulevard to places like Michael Mina and Gary Danko. The cuisine here is very accessible, no need for a menu decoder when [...]

  12. Solbar, Calistoga | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] Sharp who recently worked at Gary Danko And French Laundry, is the chef. They focus on using organic, sustainable, and the freshest, ripest [...]

  13. Solbar, Calistoga | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] Sharp who recently worked at Gary Danko And French Laundry, is the chef. They focus on using organic, sustainable, and the freshest, ripest [...]

  14. Canlis, Seattle | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] They have been around for over 60 years, and still have the right stuff. It felt more special than Gary Danko in San [...]

  15. Keiko a Nob Hill, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] – Keiko is renowned for its excellent service with precision. This line sounds like Gary Danko’s service. It was quite good, with someone around every couple minutes. Verdict – We came to [...]

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