Farallon is a 22-year-old iconic San Franciscan treat for seafood lovers wishing to indulge and celebrate special occasions. The Jellyfish Lounge, converted to Meduse (3 months old), is a more casual dining experience, showcasing exquisite glass jellyfish chandeliers with circular framed paintings resembling portal windows of a ship or submarine. The watery theme continues throughout the restaurant into the main dining room, dubbed "the Poo Room", as the ceilings are from the original 1920s Elk's Club Pool Room (as noted by Kevin, the general manager). There are lavishly painted and adorned with sea urchin lamps, for a nice blend of whimsy and opulence.
We were seated in a plush booth near red velvety chairs, with seashell patterns sewn into the backs. Our server, Jesse, quickly pointed out his favs and I usually veer towards House Recommendations as they're pretty spot-on and much appreciated. As Farallon is known as a premiere seafood restaurant, we tried the Pacific Gold Reserve oysters from Morro Bay (part of their Raw Bar selection), with a touch of chive oil and lime. The oyster was fresh and delicious. It sat atop a bed of seaweed, which gave the dish a fun underwater-like presentation. Next up, with another bite-sized pre-starter, was the fanciest deviled egg ever--caviar and a piece of truffle. The various ingredients blended into a wonderfully earthy bite.
The Local Halibut Tartare was so beautiful, like an abstract painting of various colors: moondrop grapes, pickled red fresno chili, smoked trout roe and crispy baguette chips. If you could fit everything on a single fork, it's definitely worth the effort. The fluffy Hand-rolled Gnocchi was served with champagne poached oysters, caviar and bits of radish. I loved how the dish was flavorful without being super salty and the oysters (although dainty in size) were incredibly prepared. There was a fascinating foam texture on the dish that also added to the underwater theme.
The Pan-Roasted Sablefish entree was cooked perfectly with the skin, which was cispy and salty, a counter to the soft, buttery fish underneath. There were bits of fresh Dungeness crab on top, with creamy miso Hollandaise sauce to go with the roasted eggplant and sweet squash sides. Altogether, the dish was top-tier. The seared Hawaiian Swordfish and grilled octopus were also well-done proteins, served with large couscous, pomegranate muhummara and a caramelized pepper (although too blackened, was very sweet and delectable).
The final dessert dishes were elegant artisanal creations. First was the Apple Fritters with a swirly cinnamon ganache design. It was adorned with flower petals, walnuts and horchata iced cream. The extra drops of caramel along the ganache made the dish a sweet little culinary adventure. The last dish of the night was the Frozen Campfire Mousse. It was akin to one of those TV culinary masters' dishes--in a league of its own. Presentation alone was impeccable--a bit of edible gold leaf shone at the top, alongside a toasted ripple of the best marshmallow I've ever had (I'm not big on the stuff, but this converted me). I didn't know what to expect when I cut open the dark chocolate-coated shell--inside was a layer of chocolate iced cream surrounded by chocolate mousse, with a graham cracker on the bottom. It was a chocoholic's dream as it was perfectly rich, but not too dense.
There are some restaurants in which a couple dishes are standouts, but everything I tried was top notch. The food, presentation, stunning ambiance and service is why it's a SF icon--local food and quality experiences throughout.
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