Day 2 in San Francisco

March 26, 2013

Our second day in San Francisco allowed us to start the day with a blank page. Since we had a great time near Union Square the day before, we decided to walk down towards it again. However, after not being able to locate our desired breakfast spot, we did find another that suited our needs. Cafe Bellini is a small diner located on Powell Street a couple blocks away from our hotel. Upon entering there was a fresh pastry counter displayed with tantalizing items and coffee being brewed in a frenzy as the to-go line started creeping out the door. Lucky for us we got seated right away. The black and red seats were full of guests, some pulling out fold out maps to find their destination for the day, while others were comfortable sipping the aromatic coffee in no rush of leaving. The walls were decorated with classic French posters advertising food and drink. The menu was quite simple but offered all the necessary breakfast bites, combos, waffles, omelets and crepes. I settled on a hearty veggie crepe that was filled with feta, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and scrambled eggs. Set aside to a the crepe was a small salad with Italian dressing. To drink for me was a blended iced coffee with white mocha--a drink to put any Starbucks frappe to shame!...pure sweet caffeinated bliss. As for Andy, the day needed to start with a basic breakfast combo of eggs, bacon and pancakes. It was time to fuel up and head out for more exploring

After we finished breakfast we walked back down to the waterfront to the Ferry Building. To our surprise they were also having a farmer’s market! Huge white tents filled the plaza as vendors sold everything from glass jewelry, photo prints and other handmade home decor. As we made our way back into the Ferry Building it was shoulder to shoulder crowds of people stopping by every store, tasting hand-out samples of chocolates, breads, cheeses and meats. It was a shame we could not stock up on such amazing culinary collections as we were limited to what we could take back on a plane. However, a few vendors that caught our eye do ship, so all was not lost! As the crowds continued to grow we wanted to head outside to backside plaza overlooking the Bay Bridge, built not without grabbing a little something post breakfast. There was an enticing patisserie Miette that showcased beautiful macaroons caramels and cookies. We quickly purchased the macaroons: vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, and hazelnut, we also purchased some of the salt caramel(to be enjoyed at a later time). The size of the treats were perfect as was the chewy, sweet consistency. It didn’t take long for us to eat all four, but why wait? Finally heading outside we saw that not only at this farmer’s market was there fresh produce, but also local businesses had tents and menu items to order. Lines were extremely long especially for the porcetta on a different day perhaps one with a more specific goal so much to see but the one Andy decided to try that was worth the wait was for the Kusshi oysters from the Hog Island Oyster Company. For only $2 an oyster was shucked right in front of us and could be simply garnished with provided lemon, hot sauce, chimmichuri or nothing at all these oysters were so fresh no garnish necessary. The oysters looked beautiful and fresh as and Andy enjoyed the delicacy, the line for this hot item just kept growing. It was so great to see so many people come to this market; locals and tourists alike basked in the warm sun and sampled just a handful of the provisions this city has to offer.

As the day progressed and the feet started to scream for a break, we started back to the hotel, but needed to stop for a lunch first. Finding another historic landmark, Sears Fine Foods looked like just the nourishment we needed. Since 1938 this restaurant has been standing just blocks away from our lodging and the inside decor was timeless. It still has it’s original white and black tiled floor, dark wooden tables and chairs and the walls held a variety of framed American artwork from Norman Rockwell. Again, the menu was small and simple but the portions of our lunch were anything but! My eyes grew wide as the Ham Melt that I had ordered was placed in front of me: a open faced sandwich on a bun, in which case both sides were topped with layers of shaved ham, tomato, cheese sauce and topped with another piece of white cheddar cheese. So easy, so basic, and completely delicious! Andy decided on a lighter option of an Apple Cranberry Salad which was composed of baby lettuces, julienne apples, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette. He opted  to add a piece of warm grilled chicken as well. All paired with a cool pint of Stella Artois out lunch was satisfactory and we were pleasantly stuffed.

A few hours later, after a much needed break back at the hotel, it was time for dinner and to try our luck at going to a restaurant on a Saturday night with no reservation. We wanted to try the Wayfare Tavern, a Tyler Florence creation that was just outside of Chinatown and was designed to have a hunting lodge feel. It was also noted as the best place in the city to take a business lunch we we had a good feeling about it. And boy, someone up there likes us because within five minutes of walking in, a table opened up right at the chef’s table. We were inches away from the hot and extremely busy line as the cold side chefs hustled to prepare dishes from the multitude of options from their mis en place.

Warm Tart at Wayfarer Pop Over at Wayfare Tavern

Our server greeted us with a smile and we were offered a warm, flaky pop over to start, a break from the traditional bread basket I will take any day! For an evening dinner wine, we chose The Velvet Devil Merlot from Washington State. The wine had a beautiful garnet color, a light hint of berry and smoke, and a clean velvety of the lightest Merlots I have had in recent memory. Then it was time for our selections to come out. Andy opted for a small and exquisite Bay Scallop Crudo made with Kusshi oyster, warm celery root,l shaved truffle and micro celery leaves. The scallops were small but there were plenty on the plate. They were cold, soft and delicious. Slightly marinated in citrus, there wasn’t a hint of fishiness but a muted freshness that worked out with celeriac puree and everything else on the plate. We waited in anticipation as we could see out entree plates in front of us getting one last inspection from the chef, one last plate wipe on the plate as they came our way.

Once our entrees were placed down in front of us our noses went right down to the plate, smelling the amazing aroma of meat! Andy had chosen the Veal Schnitzel which had red wine braised cabbage, pickled crab apples,and lemon caper buerre blanc. It was lightly breaded and still had the rib bone attached. For me, I don’t try try veal, mostly based on principle but I bite, and for that instant, proved to me that veal could be prepared in such a way that I forget what I am eating and just let all the flavors rejoice together--it was amazing, As for my own entree, I ordered the 28 Day Dry Aged Ribeye with potato puree, roasted mushrooms, cauliflower and capers. As a Midwest girl, I was a little intimidated by the size of the steak, but yes, I ate the whole thing. It was a perfect medium rare, succulent with the perfect char. The cauliflowers were a great paired crunch while I lapped up the creamy potatoes. It was heaven, the best thing I have eaten so far in this city. But our dining experience at Wayfare Tavern wasn’t over yet.

Full, yes. Room for dessert, of course! We made ample room for a chocolate cream pie, which a local TCHO chocolate pudding, salt caramel ganache and devils food cake, The dessert was evil (in a good way) and devoured in an instant, The pudding was so light it didn’t hit you with a punch that made you think you should really stop eating because your pants are getting tight. No no, we polished it off quickly! As the check was presented we were yet given one other bit to eat, an almost reverse amuse bouche. Two small squares of coffee cake with a dollop of sour cream and a pinch of granola innocently sat in front of us, and they were just the right little bite, at this time, to get us to wave the white flag of surrender.  Celebrity Chef Tyler Florence had a food concept in mind to satisfy every palate and it was brilliantly executed. We were left in awe after what we just experienced and it will stay with us for a long, long time.