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“Whenever I plan to be in SF, I make a reservation here” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Restaurant Gary Danko

Restaurant Gary Danko
800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109-1228
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Ranked #4 of 4,918 restaurants in San Francisco
Price range: $70 - $100
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Doing business, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Late Night, Dessert
Kingston, NY
14 reviews 14 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Whenever I plan to be in SF, I make a reservation here”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 7, 2013

Gary Danko's has fed me two of the best meals I have ever had in my life...and I've eaten at the French Laundry. The food at GD is absolutely on that level, including the cheeses, the simple dishes, the prepared dishes. I actually like it better than TFL because I'm more comfortable at Gary Danko. I like having the freedom to order 1, 2,3,4, or 5 dishes, as I see fit. Sometimes I order two apps and no entree if I like. And the service, which is very much a part of the experience, is great for me because I like to talk about the food I'm eating. Not a good place if you are annoyed by service, or want it to be in the background, but, as I say, I'm not here for that. Consider it a more down-to-earth version of TFL, with lots more freedom to choose.

  • Visited September 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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1,216 reviews from our community

90% Recommend
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
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  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
West Hollywood, California
Top Contributor
79 reviews 79 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2013

The food was truly delicious, the service was excellent and the ambiance sublime. To me, a MUST dining experience in San Francisco !

  • Visited January 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Santa Rosa, CA
Top Contributor
128 reviews 128 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 81 cities Reviews in 81 cities
366 helpful votes 366 helpful votes
“Thanks for the memories”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2013

AJWSF's review (December 5) was excellent in identifying those elements that need to be worked out. Although there was some overlapping in his service issues, we, too, felt that Mr. Danko needs to remind himself that maintaining status quo will not automatically revew his one Michelin star. And those rating the Zagat must either be tourists or guests of wealthy patrons. How else to explain the high rating?!

Unlike ajwsf's reservation experience, ours was perfect. I called two months to the day for our reservation Dec. 3, left a message, and received a courteous confirmation two days later. Our reconfirmation came on Sunday, December 1. When we arrived at 5:55 PM, the place was packed except for two tables. Yes, the noise level was quite high but nothing like that at Slanted Door, where texting seems to be the only means of communicating with a friend across the table. Since we have been to Gary Danko before, we knew all about the pricing and the optional wine-pairing. And we told our server this. Unfortunely he still proceeded to describe at length the process and asked if we wanted a drink. Having already ordered previously from a different waiter, I was surprised that this was not coordinated. Even more troubling, were some major glitches. When he asked finally if we were ready to order, I told him that we were ready. He then disappeared and stood by the cashier, waiting for us to, well, indicate we were ready. I suspect he is hard of hearing on account of the loud noise and numerous requests for clarification. During our last visit, we received several amuse-bouche despite our ordering the three-course option. This time we received some kind of mushroom soup with some dried substance resembling yeast powder. It was strange. The rest of the meal was better. My wife loved her risotto with lobster, her California bass, and the chocolate souffle. These were substantial portions, which may explain cutting back the number of complimentary tastes. I had the Dungeness crab salad (mostly pieces of crab--no "salad"), loin of lamb over a tian of zucchini with two tiny triangles of polenta, and the roasted pear with ginger ice cream. The ice cream was almost inedible as it was too firm to chew normally. The requisite petits fours and friandises were OK and went well with coffee. We chose the wine-pairing and were treated to everything from Sancerre to Croze-Hermitages. These were fine but the pourer (sommelier) seemed more to recite these rather than explain them to us. It seemed like an academic study.
With the check came an individual pumpkin cake/bread, nicely wrapped.

Having arrived by cab, we also requested on to pick us upon finishing. This was done with great efficiency and cordiality. Gone, however, was the magic of our previous visits but my wife still wants to return for that special occasion. As far as Michelin is concerned, one of the mottos of the French is "Qui ne s'avance pas se recule." If you don't move ahead, you fall behind. Mr. Danko should keep this in mind.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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san francisco usa
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
“Good food marred by clunky service and average ambiance”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2013

GD is lauded by the Zagat survey as San Francisco's "favorite" restaurant...but the Michelin 1 star status is probably more accurate. From the outset, service is jerky and charmless. The reservation process is clunky and robotic, with confirmation numbers given like an airline reservation and insistent phone calls that one must reconfirm. After seating, the constant unnecessary intrusions by a vast number of different waitstaff is baffling. At my last visit, I counted 8 different dining captains/waitstaff, each of whom felt the need to interrupt our conversation. It became comical...and we literally started laughing as we awaited the next ill timed interruption. At this level, service should be a fine art, with expert "reading" of the diners to determine when interaction is necessary, or when things should just magically appear on the table to allow conversation to flow. The service is also hampered by the crowded dining rooms. Tables feel cramped, and are too close to each other. The noise level is high, especially close to the bar...where standing patrons loom over a glass half wall and seem almost in the middle of your dining experience. The table settings do not improve the sense of graciousness. Napery is clean and functional, but not luxurious. Cutlery was notably scarred and nicked...well used, light weight and cheap stainless steel. Glassware was functional and unremarkable. Menus and the wine list were bound nicely, however, in attractive and spotless leather. And finally, the food. There are many options., from a chef's prix fixe tasting menu to a three, four or five course option. The tasting menu had no appeal on my last visit, as it featured standard wedding catering fare of salmon and beef filet as the anchors. The "coursed" options were generous in number, and included a good variety across seafood, poultry/game birds and red meat. I find the food more classically pre-nouvelle French in style than anything else. The kitchen has a relatively heavier hand with richness (cream, butler, smooth purees, marbled meats, etc), and a relatively lighter hand with spicing and seasoning. This last visit, we had the glazed oysters which were poached, topped with caviar and were nestled in cream. Unctuous, rich, and more than the four bites would have been almost sickening. The lamb loin (ordered medium but delivered medium rare) and Moroccan spiced squab (ordered medium rare but delivered rare) were both very good. Portions were of surprisingly generous size...so much so that half was left uneaten. Richness was the prevailing theme again, with the noted spicing on the squab being quite low key. We finished with a cheese course which was drawn from an impressive selection of 17 well-aged and presented options, and a roasted pear and nutmeg ice cream dessert that was too uniformly sweet and was rather ragged in its presentation. Despite the earlier waitstaff overload, the table was not "crumbed", and service at the end seemed to fall off. The wine list is extensive, and the sommelier and overall wine service is ok...but not super informative. I've had recent very positive recent experiences elsewhere in SF (e.g. Atelier Crenn) where I learned a great deal from the sommelier...and am always interested in finding some unusual wines. GD seems to have less real passion about wine, and you receive basic direction but little else. As a wrap up, migniardise were a nice ending, but unfortunately the espresso served overwhelmed with bitter and burned harshness. Pricing was high but not unexpectedly so, and this is a reasonable choice for a nice occasion where you want a more old-fashioned, French inspired, "fine dining" experience. Its perhaps best for a night out with your favorite aunt and uncle. In fact, there was a large percentage of older patrons. However, I would still choose Quince, for example, for much more gracious and well-coordinated service...assuming you also want that restaurant's superb Italian-inspired food. In short, once every couple of years here is more than enough.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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San Francisco, California
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Food is really not that good”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2013

We dined here as it was for my partner's birthday celebration. I was really looking forward to the meal but it's unfortunately a huge let down... as it is always voted the best restaurant in SF. Don't get me wrong, services were great: they put us at the table in the house and I have nothing to complain about the great services. In fact, I do think the $ spent on tips worth the value. With the services itself, I do think they meet the Michelin standard.

However, we were here to eat. So very unfortunately, food was just so-so. My partner had the duck as a starter, and then the salmon... both were quite bad. My steak was okay, since I don't like seafood, my choices were really limited.

As for the duck, it was too dry, nothing interesting in that dish. As for the fish, according to my partner, the sauce overpowering the meat, she even told the waiter the salmon taste quite cheap. As for my steak, it was okay... but I had better in Harris. Very sadly, the food really did not meet the standard in our opinion. The Foreign Cinema prepares better food than this.

There are many other choices to explore in SF bay area, so if you have not tried this place, I would suggest to pass. Either find other nearby restaurants, or go a little north to Napa area for cheaper, better prepared food.

  • Visited December 2012
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Food
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