Best Restaurant San Francisco 2002 - Fifth Floor
George Morrone's departure from the Fifth Floor last year raised concerns about the venue's culinary future, but under new Executive Chef Laurent Gras the food is better than ever. The menu is arranged into categories (Farm, Ocean, Field & Forest) that exemplify Gras' respect for fresh, natural flavors and textures, and his culinary inclinations are wonderfully creative as well. Examples from his spring menu include wild halibut braised with watercress, trumpet mushrooms, and champagne; roasted Muscovy duck with blood orange, daikon, and bitter chocolate; the marvelous slow-poached pork belly with black truffles; and sautéed venison with lime, cherry marmalade, and pumpkin sorbet. Pastry chef Tim Grable's dessert menu (especially his elaborate Tour de Chocolate) and sommelier Rajat Parr's 1,400-item wine cellar are intrinsic to the success of this world-class restaurant, and the lush, silk-portiered setting inspires a sense of serene anticipation encouraged by the elegant, attentive staff.