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Best New Restaurant, Expensive San Francisco 2006 - Scott Howard

The clever way the menu is divided at Scott Howard tempts you to order more than the standard three courses (the first page offers "raw," "soup and salads," and "appetizers"; the second, "mains"), and you won't be sorry if you do: Constructing your own tasting menu, according to your own hungers, is one of the multiple pleasures of dining here. (If you're not up to the task, there's a tasting menu — "Scott's seven-course selection" — for $80.) Exquisite dishes, whether inventive (white fluke sashimi with fragrant Kaffir lime juice, coconut gelee, and shimeji mushrooms) or classical (a truffled galantine of pintade) are set before you on wooden tables bereft of linen. The warm setting — wood and stone, reminiscent of a modern ski lodge — is relaxing; the food provides the excitement. Memorable dishes include sea urchin and toro mated with avocado and wasabi; duck breast served with apple compote and Serrano ham; a lobster salad with truffles, blood orange, and tarragon; and pork belly with salsify and pears. The seasonal menu evolves frequently, but you're guaranteed a meal that's not only delicious, but also interesting.
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