Wayfarer Tavern is Chef Tyler Florence’s restaurant in San Francisco.
My friend Nia was very keen on trying this place out ASAP and even calling ahead of our reservation to find out if she can meet the Chef in person. Nia had hoped to dine here earlier when the restaurant first opened, but as things would have it, we didn’t get to try this place until recently. As of this write-up, WT’s winter menu has already replaced the fall menu, so some of what we had are no longer available or have changed.
Before we talk about the food, I want to divert your attention to Wayfarer’s decor. It’s very nicely done. Classic and modern seem to merge nicely together here. Front the exterior of the restaurant to the interior, I really appreciated the aesthetics. I even took an interior picture of the (ladies) bathroom which I usually don’t do, but am happy to do so on occasion to show that a restaurant can in fact incorporate a beautiful design element into other areas besides the dining room(s).
The details on the actual dining table also did not disappoint. While there are many WT’s monogrammed dishes neatly stacked on our table, what really intrigued G and I were the pewter dishes that the servers removed almost immediately after we ordered our food. The pewter ware may be a nod to history where pewter wares are common usuage in taverns scattered throughout New England area in our distant past. (Unfortunately, I did not get a snap of the plates before they took them away, but if I go back soon and remember to take a picture, I will do so and post it here.)
As for food, here’s what we had:
- Wayfarer Cesear Salad
- Grilled Monterey Bay Calamari
- Hangtown Fry
- Sonoma Pork Belly
- Grilled Hawaiian Tuna
- Side of Steak Frites
- Chocolate Mousse
- Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake
- Sticky Toffee Pudding
Before I write about the appetizers, I am going to comment about WT’s service. When my friends arrived, I grab the still water bottle and almost pour some water for them, but the “water” server dedicated to this job quickly rushed over to help. Next, I see a different server with the bread. Throughout the entire time we were there, we noticed that these servers dedicated to each of their duties did exactly the same thing for all the tables. Over and over serving water, or serving bread. My friends and I joked about how hard these positions are to fill, but deep down, I have to admit that it probably does make a difference to set up a restaurant’s staff this way to serve customers. I think the difference here is that we did get our food with the right amount of service at the right time. Good service aside, the bread was delicious also. It was crispy and light and reminded me of a croissant. In fact, it very well could be a croissant.
Wayfarer Tavern’s Caesar Salad
The Caesar Salad tasted good because of the ratio of anchovies and capers in the salad. It tasted creamy and just the right amount of salt. Just before I started writing about this restaurant, I texted my friend Nia, so she can give me her input and this is what she texted back, “I would say that the caesar salad was a caesar salad[.] Appreciated that it had real anchovies [and] would’ve liked a bigger portion.” Although I do agree with Nia’s observation about the caesar salad, we did (4 of us) shared the salad, so I would advice that if you are into caesar salads to order two to share.
As for the Calamari appetizer, I was surprised when it showed up on the table with squid ink even though it said so on the menu. I think part of the reason is that it was not expected in most menus and it added to the element of surprise. While not all of my friends care for this particular dish, I thought it was very nicely executed.
Nia was excited about ordering this dish. So what is it? In sum, Hangtown fry is an omelette of all the goodies you will want to eat before being hanged. What’s in it: Egss, Fried oysters, bacon, crème friche, potatoes, greens. I tasted the dish and thought it was good, but a bit overwhelming with too many things in it. I prefer to taste my ingredients in a less grand scale. G’s opinion was that the omlette was good, but it was too rich also. I had thought that Nia like the dish, especially since she took the reminder to go, but she texted me the following, “The egg thing I ordered [was] too salty and uncreative. It’s just an omlette! But [the] beer was good though.”
Sonoma Pork Belly
G and I decided beforehand that we were to split our main dish. We were pleased with the Sonoma Pork Belly’s appearance. It looked very appetizing, but when I tasted it, I thought of another pork belly dish I would rather have. Frankly, the pork dish here was a bit too chewy. The skin on it reminded me of the Chinese pork belly dish, but instead of the crispness, I bite into chewy fat and worse of all, the chewy part of the skin stuck to my back molar. I enjoyed the lentils with it though I have to remember to now carry a toothbrush with me at all times in case this types of situation happen again.
Grilled Hawaiian Tuna
Nick ordered the Tuna. As of this write-up, I did not receive any feedback from him, but he did finish his dish, so I am taking the assumption that he liked his food. I had a taste and the tuna tasted okay to me, and it looked good in the picture, too.
I think we all agreed that the fries were good. And it reminded my friends about the duck fat fries we had at Orson a while ago. (I did not write a dining blog then, so Orson is not on any of my earlier posts.)
After our dinner, we decided to share desserts at WT. Nick picked Chocolate Mousse. While I have nothing against TCHO, I am not a fan of this chocolate maker’s product even though I have to say that they offer some very interesting and educational materials on Chocolates and how to taste Chocolates, etc. The taste of their chocolate just does not appeal to me, so I really did not enjoy this mousse at all. I think the others did enjoy it, so I think it’s just a matter of taste buds. This is one of the prettier dessert that evening.
Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake
G picked Spiced Pumpkin Pudding Cake which sounded really nice. And tasted great. I think of all the desserts we ordered that night, we enjoyed this one the most. The spice was just right and it came with Inverness blue cheese and honeycomb which help contrast the spice of the pudding cake (looks like a muffin). Interesting combo of flavors and textures.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Nia and I picked the Sticky Toffee Pudding and decided to share. It looked pretty and tasted pretty good with the ice cream. I did not really taste any black pepper in the ice cream though. Nia’s comment on this dessert was that it “was not sticky as advertised by the waitress.”
True. It wasn’t very sticky in my opinion either but after the earlier incident with the pork belly, I was glad it wasn’t very sticky.
Wine & Cocktails
WT has an extensive wine list and a few cocktails on a special menu. Since they have a bar, I am sure the bartenders can make whatever drinks you like outside of the menu, too.
Can you hear me?
WT is one of the loudest restaurant we have been to, to date.
Per person, expect to pay: Moderate $$ (25-45) – Expensive $$$ (46-75) depending on what you order and whether you will have wine/drinks.
Location and Parking
Located in Downtown Financial District on Sacramento Street (between Leidesdorff and Montgomery Street). Parking is by valet. Note: There are a few garages nearby such as the Embarcadero if you don’t mind walking a few blocks.
The restaurant is accessible by taxi cabs, near two BART and metro stations, a few bus lines, and by the California cable car line (this cable car line currently closed until July 2011).
Wayfarer Tavern | 558 Sacramemto Street | San Francisco, CA 94111