Park Tavern, San Francisco CA
Tonight we were amazed. It’s hard to find enough superlatives to describe just how great of a meal we had at Park Tavern. We are in town for the Chocolate Salon on Sunday and we’re making a weekend of it, staying in the City and trying lots of restaurants. Dinner was an awesome beginning to the weekend!
Our server Armando was spot on with recommendations, such as the smoked deviled eggs. The crispy bacon was smoked in house, just like the jalapeño was pickled in house, and there was Tabasco sauce mixed into the creamy deviled egg filling. It’s a good thing we got three because Zach had two; when Armando came to check on us, Zach told him, “That was the best deviled egg I’ve had.” It was different from the average thanks to the earthy spiciness from the jalapeño and the smokiness from the bacon.
Brussels sprout chips was another item we chose from the Jenn’s Classics section. These were slightly crispy but still tender and not bitter at all. In fact, they were somewhat sweet with the aid of garlic, lime, and salt. “This is candy,” August gasped.
Jenn’s Classics are called such for a reason – the items are absolutely stunning, including their take on garlic fries. The garlic was mild, making way for the dips to be impressive. The aioli had a subtle truffle flavor, but it was the egg that stole the show. The menu described a soft-cooked egg, however, we didn’t realize the caviar was to top it off. Even further, there was truffle oil in the runny egg yolk as well.
Gnocchi is our favorite pasta, so we got a small plate to try the ones here. The porcini cream was sumptuously rich and a wonderful base for the mixture of wild mushrooms including blue foot, yellow foot, and hedgehog. The green on top was part micro basil greens and part truffled salsa verde, all of it fresh and vibrant. The poached and sauteed gnocchi, though… oh wow. Instead of potato or ricotta, these were made from pâte à choux, making them so tender yet so creamy. August is certain that “this is the best gnocchi [she’s] had.”
Our entrees came with sides, but we had to get a separate one off the menu because it was too special. August will eat potato skins if she has to but would rather not, so imagine how much she liked this practically skinless twice-baked potato. The layers of creme fraiche, goat cheese, cheddar, and scallions were flavorful, and the dish was overall creamy and savory. Additionally, despite having multiple cheeses, not one overpowered the others.
August’s scallops (of course she always orders scallops when available) were served with smoked pork belly, braised butter beans, Tuscan kale, chive salsa verde, and micro basil greens. The butter beans were flawless in appearance and preparation. The scallops had a super flavorful sear on the outside but were most definitely tasting like the sea on the inside.
A whole Cornish game hen was brought to Zach with black truffle, pearl onions, and herbed stuffing (be aware that this dish takes 30 minutes to prepare, so you’ll want and/or need appetizers during the wait time). Where to begin? Zach had only tried Cornish game hen once before, and after having it tonight, he said the first one he had tasted clearly wasn’t cooked well in comparison to Park Tavern’s. This meat was tender and juicy, but there was a certain je nais se quoi because, while we can’t fairly compare it to turkey or chicken, it had some of the best breast meat. If the hen wasn’t brined, then it was seasoned very well. We both noticed that the bread was extra crispy and crunchy on its crust yet still had a soft texture without being mushy. The vegetables and the apples were nice for adding texture and taste to the dish. With the drippings and the juice from the hen poured over, it was “a very enjoyable experience” that Zach highly recommends.
So it would seem there is a different kind of birthday cake each month. Neither of us have a birthday in March, but August really wanted this dessert. Mildly sweet and tart strawberry raspberry buttercream and dark chocolate ganache wrapped around and between the layers of devil’s food cake. She really appreciated the fine quality chocolate that was used, since we’re in the City for the Chocolate Salon and this was like a nod to the purpose of the weekend.
This is definitely the place to come for celebrating something. Everyone is joyous and the food is so stellar, you simply cannot come here for a breakup dinner or any other sort of serious talk. By the way, there is valet service available, which is a deciding factor for many people making plans in the City. Manager Jimmy will make sure you’re enjoying yourself, too – he was a sanguine representative of this fine establishment. And thanks again to Armando, who guided us through the menu and accommodated us with all our wants and needs.