Monday, October 1, 2012

First Night In San Francisco - Dinner at The Abbot's Cellar

On our first day in San Francisco, we arrived at our friends' place at about noon where D had packed a lunch for J, Nick and I to enjoy while she worked (talk about a nice welcome!).  Since it was so nice out, we walked down to Mission Dolores Park and enjoyed what ended up being too much sunshine (note the raccoon eyes and reverse sock tan in later photos!) and a few local beers.  Before we knew it,  it was time to pack up and head back and thank D for her delicious lunch, catch up some more, and get ourselves ready for dinner.

In Mission Dolores Park
Before dinner, D and J took us up one of the many hilltops above the Castro district to take in the downtown San Francisco skyline.  It's hard to believe how clear it was!

Amazing views
Castro Theatre Lit Up in Foreground
From there, we walked down the hill into the Misson District for dinner at The Abbot's Cellar, a new restaurant that features delicious California cuisine and matches it with drinks from an extensive beer and wine list.  The space is cavernous with the height of the ceilings, but still welcoming with clapboard walls, exposed beams and a warm glow from the industrial lights bulbs.  While the menu changes depending on what ingredients are in season locally, the beer and wine list remains and is readily available throughout dinner - it tucks right into the side of the table!  This may have been one of my favorite things!

Drink List Tucked Into the Table
While I went with a hoppy beer - Hop Candy - Nick immediately knew he wanted the Hen House Oyster Stout when he saw it on the menu, regardless of whether or not it paired well with his meal!  D had a glass of cabernet and J had another beer from the massive list.  Our server was super well versed in both the beer and wine list, and trust me when I say we asked her more than a few questions about the drink menu!

Hen House
Turning to the food, while there was a choice of a three or four couse tasting menu with or without pairings, we decided to select some individual dishes.  To begin, we split the Penn Cove Mussels with shaved fennel, cherry tomato, and speck.  This was a lovely mussel dish with a broth that worked to highlight the flavor of the mussels themselves, making sure they remained the star.

We also split the yellow fin potato gnocchi with shelling beans and oyster mushrooms.  This was a delicious dish where all the different components came together so well with a great combinations of textures and flavors.

Gnocchi Dish
For the main course both Nick and J ordered the pork chop served over Spätzle and grilled peaches!  A somewhat exotic combination of ingredients that come together perfectly on one plate.  Pork is not something Nick generally orders when he is out, but the amazing stone fruit we've had this year, it was too tempting to turn down.  The pork was flavorful and cooked perfectly, and the spätzle had a delicious caraway flavor.  Nick was happy he went with this dish, a bit different but delicious!

Pork Chop
I went with the stuffed quail, and lucky for me I actually got the very last one for the evening.  This time around, my quail dish was served a bit more easily that the quail I had at Craigie.  This shorter legged quail was stuffed with a light and delicious apple combination and served over a cauliflower and turnip puree with some carrots and kale.  From the presentation to every combination of bites, this dish totally worked.  The meat was moist with a lovely crispy outside and was not overwhelmed by the other components on the plate.

Stuffed Quail
D had the seared bison tenderloin with green beans and small potatoes.  While the meat was served pretty rare, the high quality and leanness of the bison meat made this temperature work.  Bison meat in general is lower in fat and an all around leaner meat when compared to beef.  The meat was a little rarer than D would have liked, but it looked just perfect to me!

Bison Tenderloin
All the plates at Abbot's Cellar were delicious and had a lovely depth of flavor.  Each one had something to make it special and different than what you see more traditionally at restaurants, especially those in Boston.  Our server was knowledgeable on every aspect of the menu and more than willing to offer her opinion when asked and to allow us to taste the drinks when possible.

This was a great first dinner in San Francisco!

The Abbot's Cellar on Urbanspoon

After dinner, even though it was super windy and somewhat freezing (at least by summertime standards), we braved a line that started out on the sidewalk for a chance to try Bi-Rite Creamery ice cream.  With an offering of delicious flavors like toasted coconut, salted caramel and strawberry balsamic it was a good thing that they gave us samples because I definitely needed them in order to make a decision!  Sadly, there aren't any pictures - we rushed home with our choices and ate them at home, which did not make for the best photo opp!  The ice cream was totally worth the wait in the windy chill.  Bi-Rite does have a cookbook that I may have to buy to see if I can re-create some of their tasty treats at home.

Bi-Rite Creamery and Bake Shop on Urbanspoon


  1. Beautiful photos! It looks like your trip got off to a great start!

  2. San Fran is such a fun city! that looks like such a good meal.

  3. That pork dish sounds amazing!

  4. That bison looks perfectly cooked to me! And everything else looks really great.

  5. I adore SF! And also any restaurant that serves spaetzel!

  6. I'm commenting so infrequently these days but I had to say, that pic of the two of you is adorable. Gorgeous setting and you both look so happy. Love it.


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