12 4th St. (Near Market Street)
San Francisco, CA 94103
Fifth floor is a restaurant in the SF Downtown Hotel Palomar, and has been around for ages and seen many a top chef come and move on. (George Morrone, Melissa Perrello, etc) We haven’t been back in many years, so it was time to refresh our memory. Our last visit was in April 2013.
Why did we dine here? – Michael Bauer had some kind words for Fifth floor in his last review and kept it on his Top 100 list of 2013. Other critics have been less enthusiastic.
Summary – Fifth floor still serves up solid New American food in a beautiful surrounding.
Insider Tip – Eat at the bar to save money and sample the food here.
Cuisine – New American
Chef – David Bazirgan (Chez Papa)
Location – San Francisco Downtown
Opened – 2000
Decor, Vibe – Fifth floor is located on the 5th floor of a hotel. Clubby atmosphere, with lots of wood paneling, low-slung modern leather seating.
Fifth Floor Menu
Fifth floor Menu includes both a 6 course tasting menu and à la carte dishes. The main menu is divided into 3 sections, with the assumption that you are going to select one from each area. Several options for vegetarians.
They had a Duck Liver in 2013. Read between the lines..
Napa crush ($11) Belvidere orange vodka, white wine, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, white peach purée was a well balanced cocktail, yet still potent.
Mojito ($11) was a solid rendition with good strength and balance.
Amuse Bouche of yellow beet tartare.
Roasted Gold Beets – compressed strawberries, red beet sorbet, feta, baby dandelion, garam masala, pistachio tuile ($13) possessed super fresh ingredients that worked together well even though they use some interesting spices to accent the beets.
Seared diver scallops, Oregon morels, favas, vermouth, fine herbs, snap peas were very good with an excellent crust and perfect cooking. The accents went well with this high quality and fairly large scallop.
Goat Tartare ($17) goat, milk curds, buckwheat, spring fruit – is a dish we’ve never tried before so we gave it a go. Chewy, not gamey, nice cherry accent. Interesting..
Mendocino Uni Flan – dungeness crab fondue, saffron, sichuan pepper, aged kaffir lime ($17) was initially a shock to our system with its savory, rich flavors. After a couple bites, the complexity jelled. A signature dish and must get.
Hot and Cold Foie Gras – rhubarb in three textures, challah toast, almonds, sauternes gelee ($21) was an excellent dish for foie fans like us. High quality foie and a bit of variety made it Very interesting.
Spring Lamb – favas, fiddleheads, couscous, strauss yogurt, golden raisins, black garlic-lamb jus ($35) was also an excellent dish with lamb cooked 4 different ways. This ended up to be a fairly large entree. Our favorites were the lamb sausage and crispy lamb.
Lamb ($36) artichoke, green garlic, vadouvan, olive sponge – consisted of the loin and a belly. A worthy and beautiful dish with lots of contrasts.
Zabuton Wagyu Steak ($40) beef cheek, turnips, miso, allium vinaigrette – was recommended by our server and was American Kobe sourced in Idaho. Nice meat flavor although the cut was not very tender. Reasonable portion size, but expensive.
Chocolate mousse bomb ($12) orange cream, hazelnut crunch, mandarins, hazelnut ice cream was a beautiful looking dessert with a chocolate mirror finish sure to satisfy any chocoholic.
Petit four of sesame macaroon, strawberry marshmallow.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Liberty Farms Duck Breast- baby turnips, wild watercress, cherry condiment, quatre epices ($29) included 2 large pieces of duck breast cooked fairly well. This dish just did not have any wow to it.
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Service – Fifth floor had very good service, with a knowledgeable waiter, and never a need to ask for refills, etc. There were some long pauses especially at the beginning.
Value – This restaurant is not cheap but prices are in line with restaurants of this class.
Verdict – Fifth floor impressed us with its high quality food and service. It is good to know that this location continues its high culinary reputation. If you are on a budget, eat at the bar and have their high quality burger and beer.