Thursday 30 June 2011

Farallon, Post Street, San Francisco

Boasting an exuberantly over-the-top nautically-themed interior, the Farallon is all about the sea and its bounty. Very close to Union Square, this destination restaurant is convenient for the many upmarket hotels nearby and it can be tough to get a table. Creating an aquarium-style atmosphere, jellyfish lights hang from the ceiling in the Jelly bar and the Oyster bar, while the Nautilus room has booths surrounding a "spiraling shellfish pillar". Most of the dining tables are in the Pool room, which is also awash with maritime fixtures and fittings below an elaborately-painted arched ceiling. The ever-changing menu, divided up into three pre-desert courses, is swimming with seafood and is unexpectedly reasonably-priced, given the theatrical decor. The first and second courses, priced between $10 and $20, might include tuna, served with mushrooms, noodles and tofu, or softshell crab with fried tomato and basil pesto. However, the squid, served with braised white beans, paprika, garlic and mushrooms ($12), isn't as good as it sounds. The third courses, priced around $28, tend to mix fish from the Mediterranean, Alaska or Hawaii with appealing accompaniments, such as ravioli, gnocchi, parmesan risotto and serano ham. The salmon, wrapped in smoked bacon, and served with snap peas and caramelized onion jus, is a tasty combination, but the portion is on the small side and the fish can be a tad overcooked. The very long wine list has a massive selection of Californian and European wines. The pinot noir Au Bon Climat, La Bauge Au-Dessus, Santa Barbara County 2007, priced at $65, is subtle and pleasant. While the smartly-dressed waiting staff are professional and knowledgeable, they can go into sales mode. For parties of five or more, a gratuity of 18% is automatically added to the bill, where there is also space for an additional tip, if you are particularly impressed. A visit to Farallon is an experience, but the food isn't quite as spectacular as the surroundings. 6/10