Before going to San Francisco, I searched on the internet the best restaurants in the city and found The Perennial, a restaurant that prides itself in promoting progressive farming. I would call that responsible farm to table to make it simple. So, if you eat there, there are few things you should know:
- They serve you a glass of water at the beginning and will refill only upon request.
- Utensils will not be replaced between dishes unless you request it. So, they give you a utensil rest because of that.
- If you order meat, there will be a $2 surcharge to support their carbon farming project, another sustainability initiative.
This is a big place with high ceilings that gives even more space. Sticking to their theme, there is wood all over, from floor to ceiling, keeping a warm and naturalistic atmosphere. In the back of the dining room is the open kitchen that I always like to observe.
Food wise, you can either order dishes on the menu, served as a progression, from appetizer, to middle course, to main course, before, of course, dessert, or go directly for a 4 course meal that includes the choices mentioned before, for $59, that also comes with their bread. So, it is a good deal; you would be in NYC, it would probably be $100 if not more, especially considering the quality we got. In fact, when we saw the first dishes, it reminded me a bit of NOMA that we visited a couple of years ago: because of the presentation of the dishes, some very colorful, as well as the creativity. They have a nice wine list and so, to go with my meal, I went for a glass of Johan Pinot Noir, Estate Willamette Valley, 2013.
Then came the kernza bread, served with Perennial butter. It is only when I wrote this post that I understood what kernza is: it is a superwheat developed by The Land Institute, that can grow all year long, being able to adapt to any climate change (from humidity to temperature), as oppose to other wheat that are annual crops. Well, for sure it was a good bread.
Then came the first dishes:
Jodi got the eggplant toast that was made with the kernza bread, geranium marinated squash, squash blossom and cucumber oil.
On my side, I went for the strawberries with pickled Douglas Fir tips, olive oil and borage.
I admit that when I saw the first dishes, I was surprised how beautiful and colorful they were. Both were delicious, but I have to say that mine was very surprising. First, the strawberries tasted like...strawberries and are not bland like the ones we often buy. Second, the Douglas Fir tips tasted good, although at first I thought they would taste like pine trees and were probably for the plating, having no idea what they were.
The second dishes were, for Jodi: the pole beans and sweet onion panna cotta, served with basil, agretti (an Italian leafy green) and papalo (aka Bolivian coriander).
On my side, it was the trout belly, served with ham hock consommé, charred cabbage and ogo (seaweed).
These dishes were great: the panna cotta was a refreshing dish with various textures, while the trout belly was delicate with its fantastic crispy skin.
Then came the main course. For Jodi, the cauliflower gnocchi with morels accompanied with fresh cheese, grilled apple and preserved meyer lemon. This was definitely a sublime vegetarian dish, that had so many different flavors that paired well together, especially the cauliflower and morel mushrooms.
I went for the sirloin, although my first choice was for lamb, but they did not have it anymore. So, the sirloin, cooked medium-rare, was served with baby leeks, parsnip dumplings (that I did not like) and trumpet mushroom, with a shiitake jus. The meat was good, juicy, although a bit tough to cut. This was overall a good dish, even if not my favorite of the evening.
Last was dessert. We tried the nectarine sorbet served with chicory root toffee, vanilla and tarragon.
As well as the kernza ice cream, served with pecans, roasted yeast oil and chamomile.
Both desserts were good and a perfect way to finish the meal on a refreshing note. I should mention that, with the bill, they brought us some homemade chocolates, a good palate cleanser...
Our meal at The Perennial went beyond our expectations: the food was delicious, the plates looked beautiful and I liked the atmosphere of the place. If you live in or go to San Francisco, I definitely recommend The Perennial and suggest you go for the 4 course meal that is definitely a good deal.
Enjoy (I did)!
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