Restaurant Gary Danko

Combining flavors in San Francisco

San Francisco
Gary Danko was great at The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton here. Now he has made his own stage, Restaurant Gary Danko, one of the best restaurants in a town not short of culinary talent. Danko is a master at combining flavors without masking ingredients or overcomplicating dishes. The menu mixes French and California cuisines, with a touch of Moroccan and Asian influences. The tasting menu I had was superb: silky, sweet glazed oysters with a hint of sharpness from leeks and salsify; tender seared Maine sea scallops with a rich blend of black truffle, leek, and potato purée; a perfectly seared fillet of beef with Stilton and candied shallots; a fine selection of domestic and European artisanal cheese; and a densely flavored gingerbread with roast caramel pears. Each dish was vivid and perfectly cooked. The dining room is sleek—rich honey-colored wood-paneled walls accented with modern art—and the waiters stylish, dressed in sharp gray suits with gold ties. They are also the most knowledgeable and professional, but also ardent and attitude-free, waitstaff I encountered anywhere in the city. (Notable was the impassioned, detailed explanation of the artisanal cheese selection.) The menu flexibility is a nice touch: If you want to make entrees starters, starters entrees, or substitute items on the tasting menu, it's fine—a rare attitude in a restaurant this much in demand. Three-course dinner for two, $104; five courses, $140. 800 North Point; 415-749-2060.