While New York is my first love and will always have my heart, I have to say that there is a new lover in my life. This lover is a little more laid back, but just as passionate. Some may think he’s unstable, but I happen to like being kept on my toes. And this lover is oh so charming. My new lover in life is San Francisco. I met San Francisco (or SanFran as I like to call him) last year and we have been seeing each other casually ever since. When I am with SanFran all of my worries seem to melt away. We’re always doing something new and exciting, we spend a lot of time outside, and we’re totally on the same wave length. SanFran just gets me. One of the things I like most about SanFran is his food. New York does have a lot to boast about and of course his confidence draws the attention of the most attractive chefs, but SanFran is modest and smart, serving forward thinking, whimsical meals that really give you what you want, not just try to impress you.
When I see SanFran, it’s not too often, so he really tries to pack it in while I’m there. On my last trip this past weekend, he introduced me to the creativity and talent of both Chef Tyler Florence at Wayfare Tavern and Chef Michael Mina at Bourbon Steak. Now, when SanFran proposed these two chefs to me I was a little baffled. Tyler and Michael are celebrity chefs that should be at New York’s coat-tail. Tyler having his cooking show, Tyler’s Ultimate, making gourmet cooking accessible to the man’s man, and Michael being an established restaurateur and steak guy. How could these two chefs fit in with the creativity and lightheartedness that SanFran embraces? I thought he was playing me for a fool, but I decided to give him a chance. Boy, am I glad I did! While the main courses at each restaurant rang true to the chefs’ machismo styles, the deserts were flirtatious and made me especially giddy.
Wayfare Tavern, for instance, is like a huge rustic man cave you’d expect to stumble upon in the middle of Minnesota.. or Kentucky. Animals on the walls, billiard room for private dining, large flat screen tv for… well I’m not too sure guys, football? It’s oozing with testosterone. The experience was like having a first date with your meal. As soon as you sit down, you’re greeted with a beautiful, puffy, and flakey popover that is clearly used to butter you up and seduce you. The apps and entrees were Tyler-esque, and the deserts just hook you in, as if he were exposing his sensitive side! I was so surprised at how playful they were that I nearly forgot I was in a mantuary. One of our friends ordered a popcorn covered candy apple, another had a mini pumpkin pudding pie, and I of course had the trio of ice cream (my staple). This trio was composed of popcorn, cinnamon, and honey thyme, and each was UNBELIEVABLE. The texture was velvety smooth, they all had the perfect amount of creaminess, and the unique flavors were pronounced but not pungent. I can honestly say those were some of the best scoops I’ve had at a sit down dinner in a LONG time.
Bourbon Steak was a runner-up in the scoop department ( I had the trio of sorbet, none of which lacked luster), but the other deserts were shockingly, if not more, creative! Two people at our table ordered a child like root beer float with two gooey homemade cookies, XXL, and another had house made fig newtons! The third ordered beignets that tasted as if they came straight out of Mardi Gras, rum included sans beads. Not only did the desserts compare in fantasy factor, but the bread basket was similarly replaced. This time we were coaxed with duck fat french fries and a trio of sauces that made you do a little dance.
I can’t say which restaurant impressed me more, but I can say that SanFran certainly did not disappoint on this trip, and I anticipate he won’t on the next. Although at one time I thought SanFran to be jealous of New York and all his glory, I really don’t think that is the case. SanFran’s got the magic touch and really knows how to throw a curve ball. Honey.. you know the way to my heart… and my stomach. Till X-Mas 😉