Thursday, August 23, 2012

SF Dining: George's Seafood Restaurant

Pesto, scallion, fromage blanc, roasted peppers.
I found myself in the Financial District of San Francisco the other day so I called up a pal to meet for lunch.

I didn't have to walk far down Sansome to spot two words that are like poetry to me: "raw bar".

George's Seafood Restaurant is located at Sacramento and Sansome at the Fugazi Building (yes, the Fugazi Building, no, there wasn't a "waiting" room and I sure wasn't going to "keep it vegan", thank you very much Ian MacKaye).

The restaurant features a bar, which, halfway down the length of the room becomes a open kitchen. While the layout is 1950s diner, the decor is modern: reclaimed rosewood tables and chairs, a slick, varnished bar, a "wine cage" on display near the front entrance and a high ceiling.

We were greeted by a fastidious middle-aged man who from his banter between the bartender seems to either be the owner or a general manager of the restaurant.

We sat at the bar, with a good view of the kitchen, for lunch. The drinks menu included cocktails, wines and beer by the glass - the beers mostly of the local IPA variety (no surprises there). Given the wine cage ("two sommeliers enter, one sommelier leaves"?), I assume that had we asked we could have seen a full wines by the bottle list.

I ordered a Manhattan and was up-sold a cocktail on their menu called a "Vermont Jack" containing brandy and maple syrup. This drink was garnished with a twist of Meyer lemon rind, flamed with aplomb by our helpful bartender.
Vermont Jack
My friend who works in the area had been before, so I asked for a recommendation.

"The pizzas are pretty good."

Bar and open kitchen
Pizza seemed to be a odd choice for a seafood place, especially lacking a proper wood-fire oven (they were cooked in a salamander), but the pizza itself was good enough if not remarkable.

Worthy of remark were the perfectly fried calamari, dusted in corn meal and served with a basil/arugula aioli - expertly fried between the narrow margin of raw and rubber band.

Naturally, we ordered a dozen oysters. Local oysters were $2.50 per (a bit high) and specialty oysters were $3.00 per (a lot high). There were two varieties of imported specialty oysters and one local variety, so we ordered 4 of each kind ($12, $12 and $10, or $34 for the dozen, ouch!).

For the spendthrift, you might want to check out the daily happy hour special, oysters for $1 each ($1.75 for the imported). The bartender assures me that they take a bath on those prices (and I am inclined to believe him). Happy hour is from 3PM-6PM, Monday through Friday.

We arrived just before noon and soon the restaurant because quite busy. Our cooked items, fired after the rush, were slow to come to the table (bar), but presumably because of the influx of Financial District workers on lunch break.

The restaurant follows the safe fish guidelines set out my the Monterey Bay Aquarium "Seafood Watch" program. Lunch for two, including drinks and raw bar was about $45 per person with tip.

Lightly fried calamari with corn-meal crust.

George's Seafood
415 Sansome St
San Francisco, CA
Monday - Friday 11:00am - 10:00pm
Happy Hour 3:00pm - 6:00pm (M-F)