Jardiniere is a popular restaurant located across the street from the Davies Symphony Hall and War Memorial Opera House. Obviously this place is packed right before a performance. We’ve been to this restaurant many times over the years and decided to give it a go. The owner also runs Manzanita in the Ritz Carleton North Lake Tahoe. The first floor is now completely used for their J lounge, while the restaurant occupies the second floor.
Why did we dine here? – To see how the food was holding up over the years. We ate here way back in ’97 when they opened.
Summary – Jardiniere is a beautiful restaurant and a perfect place before a performance and for a romantic dinner.
Insider Tip – Try to dine after the theater crowd leaves, around 7:30pm. Visit the lounge if you’re on a budget.
Cuisine – French
Chef – Traci Des Jardins
Location – Hayes Valley, Civic Center, San Francisco
Opened – 1997
Decor, Vibe – Jardiniere is a two story restaurant with beautiful curvy decor that has held up to the test of time. The center bar floats upwards towards a star filled recessed circular dome. This restaurant was designed and is co-owned by the famous Pat Kuleto.
Jardiniere’s Menu is fairly compact with a selection of appetizers and five main courses. A tasting menu is available after 7pm.
Signature Dishes – Short rib, tomato salad.
Jardiniere Food Picks:
Amuse Bouche Gruyère Cheese Puff was excellent.
Early Girl Tomatoes | Little Gems, Castelverano Olives, Fried Bread ($15) was a wonderful salad with excellent fried bread croutons. There simply wasn’t enough tomatoes or lettuce.
Carnaroli Risotto | Maine Lobster, Zucchini, Basil, Blossom ($22) was an excellent dish. Tons of lobster, and cherry tomatoes to give it some zing.
Gnocchi | Guine Hen Sugo, Chanterells, Pecorino ($17) a house made pasta that was very good but needed more pasta! Bitter brocolini was not necessary.
Local White Seabass | Early Girl Tomato Vinaigrette ($23) could have been better. The fish was well cooked but the accompanying sauce was far too simplistic.
Duck | Breast, Confit, Mission Fig, Marcona Almonds ($24) contained some top notched duck breast but could have used twice as many pieces.
Duck Fat Fried Potatoes ($11) were decent and not too fatty.
Sorbet ($9) Goat Sherbert | Stone Fruit | Oatmeal – had two nice flavors along with a weird cheese version.
Cheesecake ($10) Caramel Apples | Walnuts – was a modern interpretation of the classic. Make sure you like this style before you order it.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Spaghetti | Fort Bragg Sea Urchin, Sweet Cayenne Peppers ($24) is an acquired taste. This dish was very spicy and the combination with uni, made it interesting.
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Bloomsdale Spinach, Butter, Shallots ($10) had far too much lemon juice or vinegar on it.
Eggplant Soup | Summer Squash, Flageolets ($14) had a funny after taste that would only be tolerated by vegetarians forced to order this.
Service – Jardiniere had reasonable service that could have been better. The waiter was pretty knowledgable and friendly but wasn’t present very often.
Value – Jardiniere is not cheap and the portion sizes are on the small side. Prices are pretty typical for this class of restaurant.
Alternatives – Restaurants similar to Jardiniere
Verdict – Jardiniere is still a beautiful restaurant in a perfect location for performing arts patrons. The food is very good to excellent, while the service could be a little bit better. It remains a extremely romantic restaurant for those on a date.