Gary Danko

Gary Danko: SF’s finest?

greeted with the menu and champagne

Tonight we are in for a real treat.  We are out in SF and want to try out Gary Danko.  Normally it takes a month or two advance notice to get a reservation but we are going to show up early and try to sit at the bar.  Every day people line up for the 10 seats at the bar.  These are on a first come first serve basis and we show up at 5pm to get in line.  For those of you who haven’t eaten at Gary Danko, you should really set aside some time to do so.  Chef Danko and the restaurant have gathered many accolades including Michelin ratings and James Beard awards which let you know that this place is  serious about food.

Setting aside the awards, the thing that elevates the restaurant to the top is the fact that it delivers an incredible experience every time from the moment you walk in the door.  There is no better service anywhere in the world.

spring tasting menu

There is a set menu tonight, the Spring Tasting Menu, that looks pretty good.  I would think about going with it except the rest of the menu has too many amazing options to choose from, especially with the way that you can order here.

There are 3, 4, and 5 course meals at fixed prices with 5 courses at $102.  There are sections for appetizers and seafood.  All of these can be ordered in appetizer or entree size.  Then there is another section of entree only dishes in addition to desserts and cheeses.  This makes it fun to put together your own menu.  You can go appetizer, seafood, entree, dessert, & cheese or appetizer, appetizer, seafood, seafood, & entree.  It’s up to you, although our amazingly nice server Dave lets us know that the menu usually wins in a battle with your stomach.

looking down the bar

Let’s get to it.  After sipping on some Champagne for a few minutes, we make the difficult choices of which menu items to exclude.  It really is more of a focus of what great dish you’re going to have to miss since you can partake in up to five dishes.

We obviously are going to have the caviar service with their famous buckwheat blinis.  These are truly special and make caviar service here a unique experience.  These blinis come out crispy on the ouside and fluffy in the middle.  They are the perfect compliment to the Osetra caviar being served tonight.  Just the right amount of savory to go with our caviar.  One of the two includes a serving of smoked salmon.  This too makes for a great compliment.  We are off to the races and this is setting a high bar for our remaining courses.

buckwheat blini, osetra, smoked salmon

After the caviar service, I had the Crispy Farm Egg that was also on the set menu.  This was truly amazing.  It came lightly battered with a runny middle on the bed of goodness that you can see below:

left me speechless

I can’t even describe my reaction to the egg.  It was amazing.  Great combination of textures and flavors.  This was my favorite dish (regularly on the menu) at the end of the night.  I should mention that we’ve moved from Champagne to some Pinot Noir.  Hirsch Vineyards is the selection.

great grapes

We’ve chosen the Pinot for it’s versatility with seafood and meats.  Next up is a Lobster Risotto.  This is definitely a contender for best dish of the night.  The lobster is delicious and plentiful. Sorry for the unspectacular picture.  It is not worthy of the dish.

After this dish, they decided to surprise us with a little something special.  This is due to Mike’s relationship with the staff.  He is friends with a lot of the folks there and we brought in a little extra caviar.  It just so happened to make it’s way onto our next dish, which I believe was the salmon medallion from the set menu.

wow! a healthy portion of osetra.

This is why I had to qualify the crispy farm egg being my favorite dish that is regularly on the menu.  This dish ended up being my favorite but is not normally available.  Although I bet you could ask them to make it for you by ordering the caviar service.  This was truly the peak of my night by there was still a lot of fun ahead.


Pork belly and tenderloin was my main entree. The pork belly was succulent.  Truly special.  At any normal meal, it would have won best in show hands down.  Here is a pic before I could eat the whole thing.  I just couldn’t stop once I started and almost forgot to get a picture.

I finished up with the Butter Cake.  It killed it.  Just took the whole evening to another level.  Gary Danko does it again.

– mike  and matt

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