Best Patio Dining - 2000
The Terrace Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Outdoor dining in wind-swept, fog-shrouded San Francisco? When it's accomplished amongst the shrub-buffered alfresco-ness of the Ritz-Carlton's garden courtyard adjoining the Terrace Restaurant, nestled on the sunny eastern slopes of Nob Hill, you betcha! And this isn't merely a lovely and elegant setting -- especially this time of year, with the planters overflowing with blossoms and the large central fountain murmuring an aquatic sound design -- the food is Ritz-worthy. The Friday evening Seafood Celebration is a ridiculously sumptuous buffet of intricately designed terrines, delicately smoked trout, halibut, and salmon, iced platters of oysters, prawns, and crab legs, bowls of chowder brimming with local seafood, lusty spreads and salads from the Mediterranean, a tantalizing and abundant cheese board, and a separate dessert buffet piled with cakes, fresh fruit, pastries, and the richest, darkest chocolates imaginable. There's another spread offered Sundays that exponentially transcends every definition of "buffet brunch" as the mimosas flow like decaf lattes in the Marina and the urbane sounds of cable cars chugging up California Street add pleasing aural accents.