After living in Sydney, every other city doesn’t come close to the quality of seafood that I’ve found there (except maybe Malaysia). At the recommendation of Gan, I thought I should give Swan’s a chance to score some points for the port city of San Francisco.
As with the places that have been reviewed by CitySearch, Urbanspoon and appeared on multiple travel guide books, there’s bound to be large number of tourists flocking to it at all times of the year. I was dumb enough not to do research on the best time to begin my oyster quest so I ended up in a line with 21 people ahead of me all fighting for a spot at a place with ~20 seats.
The wait ended up to be about an hour long, in the (strangely) cold SF afternoon, but we managed to squeeze into a seat just as they were about to close for the day (their official closing time is 5.30pm, but since there’s always a line around that time, they cut the line off in between 4.30-5pm).
The wait staff are incredibly nice and helpful and are more than willing to help you make choices if you don’t know which kind of oyster to get.
We went for a combination of 3 types of oysters, crab salad and clam chowder. A shoutout goes to the crab salad for being so fresh and delicious.
Don’t forget that they also serve Anchor Steam on tap. Swan definitely rocks it old school, and lesson learned for next time is to come when they open at 8am, though apparently they don’t get really busy till about 10.30/11am. Important note: If you don’t need to sit at the bar, the smartest thing to do is to call and place and order and then you can skip the line entirely when you come and pick up your food.
Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk St
(between California St & Sacramento St)
San Francisco, CA 94109
In a city where bakeries are a-plenty, Tartine Bakery stands out amidst their growing list of accolades and awards. Founded and run by pastry chef Elizabeth Pruitt and baker husband Chad Robertson, Tartine looks nondescript from the outside except for the incredibly long line of people waiting to get their orders of bread and pastries.
Pruitt and Robertson have definitely earned their James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chefs titles. Though I was quite annoyed by having to get in line just to put in an order, things were moving fast enough and we were able to find space at the bar to place our stash: brioche bread pudding, morning bun, scone and eclair filled with vanilla custard dipped in Valrhona glaze.
Seating is first-come-first-get, so if you find a spot, grab it. But if the weather permits, bring your pastries to Dolores Park and eat it on the slope in the sun.
The Slow Food Movement started in 1989 as an anti-thesis of fast food, countering the human race’s disinterest in where their food came from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the world. Renowned chef and author, Alice Waters, co-founded Chez Panisse in 1971 with a group of friends just as an avenue for her to cook for friends in an intimate, comfortable atmosphere.
The restaurant was built in an Arts and Crafts house on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley, CA. The decor with its wooden pillars and brick and copper walls foster a warm feeling as soon as you enter. The Chez Panisse Café was opened in 1980 to offer an alternative menu to the restaurant downstairs. The menu in both the restaurant and the café changes every day depending on what local ingredients they can source.
I’ve always been a big fan of open kitchens. There’s a welcoming feeling that comes with it when you can see the chefs at work and the ingredients that they’re using to prepare your food.
We ordered the homemade linguine with shrimp, grilled artichokes and yellowjack.
Obviously the fresh ingredients did those dishes wonders. I especially liked the linguine, exceptionally homey.
The dessert was equally good. We got the poached pear upside down cake and the tart (can’t for the life of me remember what was in it haha).
The café is definitely more accessible than the restaurant, where you need to call ahead months in advance in order to get in, so try there if you can’t get a spot at the restaurant.
1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709-1598