Tuesday, February 13, 2007
This Week's Restaurant Review: The Slanted Door in SF
Anybody who is even half a foodie in San Francisco knows about The Slanted Door. Located in the northeast corner of the restored Ferry Building, The Slanted Door is small – it only seats 150 for lunch and dinner with a 34-seat cocktail lounge/bar -- which is not enormous when it comes to a restaurant. But, the place’s reputation for incredibly inventive food in an awe-inspiring setting is huge. The Slanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that features local produce and ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry that’s raised at farms throughout the Bay Area. The Phan family opened the original Slanted Door in 1995 on Valencia Street. They have taken their vision a step further with the Ferry Building location, in a stunning environment designed by the renowned Olle Lundberg. The place overlooks the SF Bay, but the view actually ends up playing second fiddle to the amazing interiors of The Slanted Door. The food is the star of this gig, but the Riesling-driven wine list, the full bar with its unique selection of specialty drinks and fresh squeezed juices, and the hard-to-find Chinese teas, make this gem a destination for food lovers from all over the world. When we were there, we met people from China, Sweden, Korea, Africa, and Spain. I felt like I was at Disneyland, on the “It’s A Small World” ride. With a reputation like The Slanted Door’s, it’s no wonder that folks all over the planet cash in their frequent flyer miles to eat there. One of the cool innovations this place offers is called their Out the Door store, where people can purchase prepared dishes to go, or easy-to-use kits that they can use to make Slanted Door dishes at home. Dinner entrees at The Slanted Door range from $14.50 to $26.50, while lunch entrees will run you somewhere between $8.50 and $16.50 each. The specialties of the house include the Slanted Door Spring Rolls with peanut sauce -- the freshest, most delicate spring rolls I’ve ever tasted; Green Papaya Salad with rau ram and roasted peanuts – my favorite dish on the menu. We’ve tried to make it at home, but it’s not the same. Shaking Beef stir-fired with garlic and organic onions – the only thing shaking here was me in anticipation of this incredible dish. Then there’s the Wood-oven roasted whole fish with spicy ginger fish sauce and the Sugar snap peas with maitake mushrooms and garlic, two entrees I haven’t had the pleasure of sampling yet. They’re on my list for next time, however. Executive Chef Charles Phan, Pastry Chef Mutsumi Takehara and Wine Director Mark Ellenbogen are food celebrities. They have groupies and have to avoid paparazzi just like Brad, Angie, Clooney, Cruise and Katie. The Slanted Door also has a great Prix Fixe menu, consisting of 3 appetizers, 3 meat or seafood dishes, 1 vegetable dish and a dessert. The very reasonable cost is $38 per person for lunch and $45 per person for dinner. Unless you’re Willie Brown, you might have problems making reservations at The Slanted Door. But, try anyway. It’s worth it. Every food experience should be just like this – unforgettable and wondrous. The Slanted Door is located at 1 Ferry Building in SF. Call them at (415) 861-8032. Their web site is: http://www.slanteddoor.com/.