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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The coach stops here-Wayfare Tavern

I have been a fan of Tyler Florence since the days of Food 911. My college roommate and I were always dreaming up recipes that he could come cook for us. We did not imagine that I would one day be able to go downtown and order delicious food at his SF restaurant Wayfare Tavern. There is a lot of hype about this resto and we were excited to finally check it out! My friend booked our lunch reservation well in advance, and we arrived with hunger gnawing on our insides ready to eat. We were not disappointed! My dining partner ordered a glass of wine, but I chose a specialty cocktail. I'll admit the name drew me in, and the ingredients cinched the deal, I chose the Pomegranate Fizz. This drink features vodka, pomegranate, ginger rosemary syrup and soda water that is garnished with a stick of fresh rosemary. I really enjoyed the scent of the fresh rosemary as I took my first (and last) sip of this delightful cocktail.

Pomegranate Fizz
We took a minute to be overwhelmed by the choices on the lunch menu. There were quite a few choices that jumped off the page at us, so V and I decided to cover more ground by splitting the meal. Cauliflower Soup caught our attention, and when it arrived I was surprised by the mounds of naked lobster beignets in the bottoms of our bowl. This soup is served the French way which involves the diner being shown the surprise at the bottom of the dish before it's covered with the warm flavorful soup.  Pureed cauliflower, tarragon and applewood smoked bacon were put together in a recipe that inspired us to dream of soup ingredients that would be an easy simple meal to make at home.(Plus I loved being introduced to a new way of serving soup.) I haven't tried cauliflower lately, but today I made a pureed pumpkin soup. At the end I tossed the roasted potatoes chunks in at the last moment giving it a wonderful textural contrast. This is a great alternative to serving stew.

Lobster dumplings peep above the pureed cauliflower. Yum.
Next up is the Wayfare Ceasar for our salad course. It featured soft egg, boquerones, garlic confit and herbed breadcrumbs (which are Not to be confused with croutons--emphasis mine). We chopped up the romaine stalks and stirred everything around a bit in order to get a taste of every flavor in each bite. Salty anchovies with light crunchy lettuce, it was a delight to eat this reimagined Ceasar salad.

Herbed breadcrumbles lower left corner gave texture and a flavor kick to this salad.
For our main course, it was no contest. We had to have the Fried Chicken. I'd been hearing about this chicken since the resto had opened and it was time to check it out. The waitress served it on a big platter and brought us small plates. Side Note: the waitstaff here was kind enough to split our servings in two for both the soup and salad at no charge! A thoughtful and simple gesture that sometimes costs more than the dish itself is just a part of great service at Wayfare Tavern. Thanks crew!

Organic chicken soaked in a buttermilk brine and lightly breaded with a garnish of crisp woody herbs (read deep fried!) and roasted garlic cloves.We squeezed the lemon wedges over the hot juicy chicken and ate it up.

The Fried Chicken lives up to it's hype. 
Can we fit dessert under our belts? We have to! It would be impossible to say "no" to Sticky Toffee Pudding. We each spooned up a bit of cubeb peppercorn ice cream along with leaves of wood sorrel and California medjool dates. I can honestly say I have never had leafy green bits on a sweet pastry dessert. Until now! Show me the way Mr. Florence....

Yes, we were Forced to eat this amazing dessert.
When I return to this destination restaurant, I will be trying out other options on the menu. It might be hard to choose something else for a main dish 'cause that chicken was just so damn good. I didn't take any pictures of the resto itself, although the decor is in keeping with the name. You may feel as though you've stepped into the modern version of an upscale Olde Englishe pub or coaching inn  full of lux dark wood and low lighting. The perfect place to hide out on a rainy day and keep cozy.

Do you have a favorite 'special occasion' restaurant in your neighborhood or city? Who is your favorite famous chef? I know if Jacques Pepin was serving food someplace I could afford that I would eat there every meal.