Over the holidays, I went to visit my brother who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. He is a Renaissance man – athlete, artist, academic, and all-around-great-guy. On top of that, he has a super refined palate! So when I showed up at the airport, I wasn’t surprised to hear he made several reservations for us between Monterey Bay to Napa Valley.
On my first full day in the San Francisco Bay Area, my brother gave me a whirlwind tour of San Francisco. I don’t want to brag, dear YYZ, but while you were going through Winterggedon, I was enjoying a sunny 20 C. The gorgeous weather certainly helped as we miraculously knocked out all the touristy must-do attractions: Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown (with my parents’ shopping list in tow), Union Square and of course, Fisherman’s Wharf. No visit to San Francisco would be complete without sampling the famed Dungeness crab!
While I do have a penchant for strolling with street food, this dinner was going to be our real first sit-down meal since my arrival (I told you it was a whirlwind tour!) so my brother made sure we had a spot at one of his favourites: The Franciscan Crab Restaurant. As we walked up to it, I could tell I was going to love it – check out that retro exterior!
We were seated close to the windows and of course, right next to me was a pair of binoculars! What’s there to see? Alcatraz of course. I couldn’t resist.
The menu featured a lot of Dungeness crab dishes (of course) ranging from crab enchiladas to the more recognizable crab cakes. I just wanted it as simple as possible so when the Prix Fixe menu offered sizzling Dungeness crab legs it was decided. Also what helped convinced me was that the starter being offered was a cup of clam chowder.
This was probably one of the best clam chowders I’ve ever had – if not THE best. 1) It’s not served in a tacky sourdough bread bowl. I get it, it’s a fun thing to do, but when you’re in a restaurant it should be served in a small tureen like above. 2) Not too brothy, not too creamy. 3) Not too chunky, but textured. 4) Full of plump baby clams. 5) No grit. At all. 5) It tasted like fresh clams and a touch of herbs. Bravo, Franciscan, bravo.
My main was served on a sizzling platter, as promised by the menu, and I’m a little embarrassed to say that I dug right in and next thing you know it, my hands were too dirty for a photo. The crab legs were, as expected, very fresh. The secret sauce? Well, let’s say it’s pretty much butter, a ton of browned garlic and…crab roe. Yes. The sauce is a secret only because if you knew how much cholesterol you were consuming, you’d have to write a last will and testament right then and there.
The third and final course was a generous cup of their homemade custard ice cream. I don’t have a photo of this because at this point I was just too fat and unresponsive to most noises coming from my waitress. I think she said something about tea or coffee but it sounded like a muzzled foghorn. Sure, sure, whatever, just let me breathe in peace. The ice cream was certainly very smooth but too sugary for my personal tastes. I took two bites and left a fallen soldier behind.
Ladies and gentlemen, that was only Day 1 of my Three Day Gluttonous Tour of the San Francisco Bay Area. How does it end? Let’s say I’ve been back for a couple of weeks and I’m still on a (semi) detox! Stay tuned as I hit up both Monterey Bay and…NAPA VALLEY!