This past weekend, a group of six of us had an amazing dinner at Baker & Banker, on Bush Street in San Francisco. What a meal! It was my dear friend Padma’s 40thbirthday, so we wanted to go someplace special, with a fun atmosphere and great food and wine. My husband and I had been to Baker & Banker a couple times previously, always with great meals, but this time was exceptional!
We kicked off the evening with champagne at our house (Veuve Cliquot and Roederer), which set the right tone for the night, and then made our way the 12 blocks to the restaurant. To start, I had the grilled gulf prawns with a white bean and artichoke salad, olives and preserved lemon. It was absolutely delicious…the prawns were sweet and grilled to perfection, and the lemon/bean/artichoke accompaniment was just right. My hubby had the foie gras torchon served with vanilla roasted strawberries. WOW! The strawberries were an inventive touch that paired perfectly with the foie gras. The birthday girl had the asparagus soup, which was bursting with fresh flavor – so much so that we were wiping the bottom of the bowl with bread slices! And the rest of the gang had the gem lettuce salad with tangerine, hazelnuts, avocado and feta. They all raved about that too. We paired the first course with a fantastic Sancerre from the Loire Valley, which was delicious and crisp, and went very well with everything.
The main courses were even more spectacular. I had the braised rabbit, which was served with an indescribably delicious sherry cream sauce, that had fresh peas and gnocchi. I swear it was one of the best dishes I can remember eating in a good long time. My hat is off to Chef Banker for this one! Most of the table had the chorizo encrusted halibut, served with a spicy rouille (a sauce with garlic, lemon and chili pepper). I think Padma would’ve licked her plate if it weren’t considered rude in public company! No one was less than thrilled with their meal. The Barbera we had with the main courses was earthy, rich and well-rounded, and paired perfectly with all the food.
Dessert was equally impressive, and we ordered three for the table to share – the XXX triple layer chocolate cake, the prune and kumquat sticky toffee pudding with blood orange sauce, and the Meyer lemon ice box pie with candied olives. Truly inventive desserts with flair and fabulous flavor. The candied olives were a real surprise – they tasted like savory raisins that complemented the lemon beautifully. Pastry chef Lori Baker (perfect name!) is a genius with dessert.
All in all an amazing meal that was the perfect choice to celebrate a special birthday. If you’re in San Francisco, this place is a must visit.