Waterbar, San Francisco CA
What a fine experience! The view, the service, and of course the food, were all well above par at Waterbar. From the moment we walked in, we were impressed by it all. We were here for lunch, so of course we want to come back sooner than later for dinner to enjoy the view of the lights on the Bay Bridge and the giant saltwater aquariums inside the restaurant.
To split among August, Zach, and August’s dad, we started with this platter. Half of a dungeness crab from Sausalito, oysters and clams from Washington, and big, meaty prawns were served with a classic cocktail sauce and a blood orange vinaigrette. The crab was juicy and slightly sweet, flavored from the boil. The oysters were mildly sweet, briny, and buttery, and the clams were also pleasantly briny. The prawns were cooked perfectly, and the cocktail sauce with tangy horseradish was ideal for dipping them. The vinaigrette was delicate and flavorful, great for the oysters and clams. We heartily enjoyed all aspects and Zach, who typically doesn’t favor raw clams, surprised himself at liking these here.
This cara cara orange salad of jumbo Zuckerman asparagus, mâche micro greens, and speck ham was a delightful backdrop for the crusted egg. The asparagus was very crisp and mild in flavor, while the salty speck ham had a very light smoky flavor. The egg itself had a crispy crust, and the broken yolk made for a creamy sauce. The salad provided a wonderful balance of sweet, tangy, and acidic.
These fries were special with Maldon sea salt, but it was the ketchup that blew Zach away. He “hates” ketchup because often the store bought brands are over-processed and sit on the shelves too long, but by adding Maldon salt to the fries as well as the house-made ketchup, this was tangy and sweet. Sea salt does wonders.
August’s dad ordered the frittata of hedgehog mushrooms, cippolini onions, Madeira wine, and petite herbs with house-made crème fraîche on top. Zach and August tried bites, and we all thought it was excellent. The egg was exceptionally velvety in texture and moist, and the crème fraîche added a good zing of flavor.
Zach’s entree was fish and chips, and we were surprised that it came with literal American chips, not British chips aka french fries. The Alaskan cod was “very, very fork tender” and had a light and crispy Anchor Steam beer batter. The chips were crispy, salty, fresh, and flavorful with Old Bay seasoning. The hot sauce aioli was like icing on the cake – not too spicy but enough heat to liven up your taste buds, and a welcome change from standard tartar sauce. Without the typical mayonnaise base, the coleslaw on the side was refreshing.
Schmitz Ranch Californian lamb was medium rare, tender, and rich. August loved the texture and the taste, as it was cooked just right and seasoned very well. It laid on a bed of sauteed beet greens, supported by potato galette, and was drizzled with intriguing harissa sauce, something she had not tried before. A Tunisian hot sauce with multiple chilies and spices, there are many varieties differentiated by region and even household, but the commonality is deep, flavorful heat.
Yes, tomorrow is the long-anticipated Chocolate Salon, but we got a head start today with the selection of desserts. This budino was fluffy, rich, and smooth, with the tiniest bit of light crust texture due to the baking process. It was placed with rich caramel, malted milk chocolate ice cream, graham cracker cocoa sugary bits, and mini coffee meringues. The caramel was creamy and had the added essence of vanilla bean. August’s father said he was particularly impressed by the ice cream, since malted milk chocolate is not a flavor you find much anymore. We loved the light, airy pillows of meringue that melted like cotton candy once in the mouth.
Buttery graham cracker base added texture to these very rich, very smooth caramel chocolates with sea salt. More like ganache, the consistency was creamy, not chewy like a caramel.
The final dessert was the house-made sorbet. Today’s flavor was bergamot orange zest which, when paired with the tart blackberry coulis, tasted like a mild earthy tea with floral accents. Resting inside the brown sugar tuile sat a fresh blood orange supreme. For the people who are more calorie-conscious, this is a sinfully rich and satisfying dessert.
The hosts and managers were all very pleasant and accommodating, so hats off to the whole team. Tahra was an amazing server – knowledgeable, attentive, conversational, and someone we would be happy to have as a personal friend. She was wearing a necklace that August liked, and when asked about it, she revealed that she made it herself! As we said earlier, the view, service, and of course the food, were all extremely impressive. We can’t wait to come back.