Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco


Recommended Posts

My wife and I had a birthday dinner at the Ritz last night. We've posted pictures of our meal at Flickr:

http://flickr.com/photos/loremipsum/sets/72057594070269480/

We both chose the chef's nine-course tasting menu with wine pairing. (The wines for each course are listed on each photo's page). The great part: my wife and I got different dishes for each course, turning the 9 course tasting into an 18 course tasting with all of our sharing.

I hope to write up a more detailed review soon, but I wanted to share pictures first.

Cheers,

Andrew

Link to post
Share on other sites

loremipsum,

I'm pondering whether the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco has given chef Ron Siegel complete control over the menu. I know that the Ritz Carlton Huntington down in So. Calif. lets chef Craig Strong have total freedom with his menu. I presume your dinner was not the typical "hotel restaurant" meal, ehh?

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I found the crab dish particularly fascinating. Thaks for sharing. I am also looking forward to your commentary.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

loremipsum,

are you going to write up your report? i look forward to reading about your meal. i'm considering on going - but i'm a little overwhelmed by all the various menus - the salt & pepper looks really interesting, as does the chef's 9-course... any recent expreiences from eGulleters?

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

My latest meal at The Dining Room was pretty good. Service was spectacular. All of the dishes were very well executed. No pyrotechnics, no dazzling and new combinations or presentations - just very thoughtful and somewhat creative foods. Chef Siegel's Asian influeces were pronounced - and appreciated.

I had the Chef's nine-course tasting menu.

More later.

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

u.e., great pictures.

i have a question...do you think the desserts stood up to the rest of the meal? the strawberry dessert looked great, both complex and interesting, but the other dessert (ice cream/sorbet sampler) looked boring in color and texture. also, the petit fours didn't look too exciting. i'm wondering, when you compare that to french laundry or other restaurants of that level don't you expect more?

Link to post
Share on other sites

alanamoana,

I'm not really a sweet tooth - so desserts rarely impress/please me the way other savory courses do. That being said, I'm a SUCKER for ice creams and sorbets - especially unusual ones. Sometimes, as I did here, I ask for a sampling of the pastry chef's most creative ice creams instead of, or as a supplement to my dessert.

Here, I found the bamboo rice ice cream to be far and away the best. The others really just tasted like sugar and cream - with slight hint of something... The carrot was pretty pronounced, but not necessarily what I was expecting (but there's an explanation in the caption on my flickr photoflickr photo).

I didn't find The Dining Room's desserts to be good or bad. They didn't leave me deflated... but they didn't send me out thrilled either. The mignardises were okay - not great - I've had much better. Dark chocolate is the way to my tummy (heart) and there wasn't a lot of it offered on the cart, if I recall (or I most certainly would have chosen it).

I liked the buttermilk panna cotta that Manresa served (the night before) much better.

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
Here, I found the bamboo rice ice cream to be far and away the best.  The others really just tasted like sugar and cream - with slight hint of something...  The carrot was pretty pronounced, but not necessarily what I was expecting (but there's an explanation in the caption on my flickr photoflickr photo).

I didn't find The Dining Room's desserts to be good or bad.  They didn't leave me deflated... but they didn't send me out thrilled either.  The mignardises were okay - not great - I've had much better.  Dark chocolate is the way to my tummy (heart) and there wasn't a lot of it offered on the cart, if I recall (or I most certainly would have chosen it).

I liked the buttermilk panna cotta that Manresa served (the night before) much better.

u.e.

Thanks for the reply u.e.

On flickr, if you view pictures as a slideshow, it doesn't show captions, so i didn't know what the ice cream flavors were...

As a pastry chef, I'm always interested in seeing how well the desserts follow dinner and from viewing your photos, they didn't seem to do the meal justice. Compared to Per Se or other restaurants, where the mignardises are overflowing and beautiful...I guess I would expect more from the Ritz Carlton!

Link to post
Share on other sites

alanamoana.

To be sure, the Ritz did "put on the ritz" with the mignardises cart - but I just personally didn't find many to be compelling. I usually am tempted by the selection, but for some reason, that evening I wasn't. Lot's of milk chocolate, white chocolate, lollipops... there were financiers, miniature opera cakes, and a interesting pistachio and white chocolate layered treat. There were also tons of nougats - I hate nougats and caramels, neither of which I care for.

The ice creams, by the way, were supplemented. I paid an extra $10 for those puppies.

u.e.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
Those plates look familiar...

Sorry, can you clarify your statement please? :unsure:

u.e.

Oh sorry, haha i just meant that the plates that are used in the pics are similar to the ones that thomas keller uses. I was just wondering what specific brand are they. But I also heard that Thomas Keller actually has his own line too. I could be mistaken though

Link to post
Share on other sites
Those plates look familiar...

Sorry, can you clarify your statement please? :unsure:

u.e.

Oh sorry, haha i just meant that the plates that are used in the pics are similar to the ones that thomas keller uses. I was just wondering what specific brand are they. But I also heard that Thomas Keller actually has his own line too. I could be mistaken though

Yes, they do look similar - to Keller's and a slew of others. And yes, we did take a peek at the underside of our plates at The French Laundry (and Per Se) - and they are Keller's "personalized line" of serviceware.

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

On the second night of my recent eating trip to S.F. and Napa, I had an "open" night. I toyed with a few restaurants - Gary Danko's, Fleur de Lys, Quince, and Incanto... but in the end, I decided on The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton.

In suspected that I would be in for a more "traditional" styled service and certainly not as daring or innovative as my meal at Manresa. I was definitely right on the service, but I have to honestly say that some of the food that Chef Ron Siegel served pleasantly surprised me.

TDR offers a few menu formats:

- 3 course prix fixe with your choice of starter, main course, and dessert

- 8 course "Salt & Pepper" menu - every course features a salt and pepper

- 6-course Chef's menu

- 9-course Chef's menu

I, the happy glutton, of course ordered the 9-course.

All of the photos can be seen on my flickr account here.

My meal started with a few canapes and amuses bouche:

Warm fennel and leek soup

A demi-tasse of warm fennel and leek soup garnished with fennel salt.

Notes: Warm and creamy. Very savory, with a hint of curry (although I'm not sure there was actually any curry spice added) - and a grassy celeriac taste from the dusting of fennel salt on top.

Diver Scallop

Diver scallop on a bed of melted leeks and sauced with Meyer lemon reduction. The diver scallop is pierced with a shard of white nori sugar glass.

Note: The white nori glass was very interesting - it tasted like nori, but it was white!?!? I've never heard of "white nori."

The scallop was very nicely prepared - still succulent and sweet on the inside, although nicely carmelized on the outside. The melted leeks underneath were great. The Meyer lemon reduction was more sweet than citrusy.

Uni "Panna Cotta"

Chilled pana cotta of sea urchin served in a martini glass with brunoise of lobster and avocado. The pana cotta is "sauced" tableside, with a tiny drizzle of vanilla bean olive oil.

Note: Couldn't taste the uni in the panna cotta :sad: - but the lobster and avocado were really great. The vanilla bean olive oil was discernible - but barely... what's with lobster and vanilla? It's everywhere!

Spinach fried ravioli

Pillowy fried ravioli filled with spinach and dusted with Grana Padana cheese.

Notes: OHGOSH, these were my favorite canape/amuse by far... the crispy light crust (like flaky fried wanton) were filled with a buttery wilted spinach filling (almost like creamed spinach - except the spinach leaves were not pureed into a mush). OHGOSH, they were molten hot and so good!!

Then on to the courses from the 9-course tasting:

1st Course: Asparagus veloute

Chilled asparagus veloute topped with a Miyagi oyster and a small garnishing of Osetra caviar.

Taste: I really liked this chilled soup. It was simple, light, and sweet. The Miyagi oyster, which was unexpectedly plump and full and briny (from first glance, the Miyagi oyster, which barely peeked above the soup-line seemed tiny and small - but the majority of the fat oyster, in true iceberg-fashion, was in the soup). The dollop of salty-bitter Osetra caviar offered the perfect textural and flavor counterpoint to the sweetness of the asparagus.

2nd Course: Sashimi of live spot prawn

There were two presentations for this course. The first was a sashimi of spot prawn meat:

The server informed me that this sashimi of spot prawn was taken from a prawn that was alive just moments before this service. The tender shellfish meat is topped with cubes of yuzu gelee. Freshly wasabi root is grated tableside and garnishes the plate.

Taste: I don't dout that the spot prawn was extremely fresh (as in, it was alive a few seconds before) as the meat was excitingly moist and tender. I was expecting a sweeter meat, like ebi, but the shellfish had an extremely clean and pure taste to it. The cubes of yuzue gelee actually complimented the dish very well. As well, I really appreciated the little garnish of freshly grated wasabi (grated table-side on shark skin for presentation) - it was very strong. I hardly used a quarter of it.

I also experimented with dabbing the shrimp in the salts that came with the prawn heads. Although I appreciated the salty-sourness, I thought it really overpowered the clean taste of the shrimp.

I will say that instinctually, I wanted a pair of chopsticks to eat this course with... but in the end, fork and knife were probably the best mode because of the cubes of yuzu.

The second presentation (alluded to in the sashimi presentation description) was a fried spot prawn head, halved. The head is served with two types of sea salt: shiso salt and a Japanese deep sea salt. Both were mixed with lemon juice table-side.

Notes: This was fun and tasty. The prawn heads had been flash fried to a crisp. Dipping them in the salt mixtures was fun, but a bit impractical, as the delicate legs shattered everywhere and after taking one bite, I was really just left with a bunch of crispy debris... sadly, it didn't make for very easy double-dipping.

3th Course: Halibut and Dungeness crab

This course also had two presentations. The first featured halibut:

A filet of halibut was presented nude undertneath a cloche. It sat on a "hammam" of sorts - with drainage holes. The cut of fish is sauced tableside with a coconut citrus sauce sauce spiked with a tinge of habenero. When finished with the halibut, the server removed the dish on which the halibut sat to reveal a second bowl beneath. The contents underneath are kept warm and benefits from the sauce and juices from the halibut above.

The second: Underneath the filet of halibut sat a large dungeness crab ravioli. It is accompanied by a sliver of artichoke heart and a single stalk of asparagus. The ravioli has been sauced with the same coconut-citrus and habenero reduction that seeped through from the halibut saucing.

Notes: Despite its appearance, this ravioli was STUFFED full of Dungeness crab meat. The coconut-citrus saauce also included some of the nice halibut juices that had dripped through from above.

... more to come

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

... forging on.

4th Course: Lobster

Section of lobster tail poached in clarified butter. The shellfish is served on a bed of English peas and white onion. The dish is sauced with a sweet carrot broth.

Taste: I really loved this dish. The butter poached lobster tail was nice and plump, not stringy or tough at all (unlike a lobster that I was served a few nights later at another restaurant... :hmmm:). The peas were nice and firm, yet not raw-tasting. The best part was the sweet carrot broth, which added an earthy sweetness that really played off nicely against the sweetness of the lobster meat itself.

5th Course: Hearts of Palm Salad

This course was supposed to be a foie gras course. However, since I was foied-out from the surfeit of the silky wonder from the night before, I asked to have a salad instead.

A tuft of baby mesclun crowns a thin layer of Navarro Pinot Noir gelee. At the very bottom are impossibly thin carpaccio of heart of palm. The salad is dressed with a coconut-lime vinaigrette and seasoned with vanilla salt. The carpaccio are drizzled with fruity "Olio & Olive Primo" olive oil.

Notes: I have NEVER seen sections of hearts of palm as large as these. Each perfectly round, paper-thin slices of hearts of palm was the diameter of a baseball. I was most curious about the pinot noir gelee - which was nice and tart-sweet and actually mixed in well with the salad. Besides the delicate sweetness of the hearts of palm, the most oustanding flavor on this dish was the very strong and fruity olive oil. I asked the server for the olive oil name - he said it was "Olio & Olive Primo." To be honest, I couldn't really taste the coconut-lime vinaigrette.

6th Course: Quail

Roasted quail and slices of home-made coriander-pork sausage on a softened fennel stalk and melted rhubarb. The quail is sauced with a natural quail jus reduction.

Taste: Like the squab[/a] course I had the night before at Manresa, I found the most compelling element on this volaille dish to be the sausage. To be sure, the quail was very good (although the skin had gone completely soggy after being sauced), but the spicy (heat) and savory-smokey coriander in the sausage was get-out spectacular. The fennel stalk, which had been rendered very soft, was a nice refreshing foil to the otherwise full-flavored elements.

7th Course: Beef Tenderloin

A round of beef tenderloin sits on a bed of tender morel mushrooms and meaty fava bean halves. It is sauced with Bourdelaise and surrounded by roasted fingerling potatoes. The tenderloin is topped with fried bone marrow.

Notes: The beef was almost fork tender - the consistency was if the meat had been braised and then pan fried (although I have no confirmation on this). The tenderloin sat on a bed of oh-so-melted morels and sauced with a rich Bourdelaise. Together with the sturdy fava beans, the accompaniments were great companions with the meat. I also appreciated the nicely golden-brown roasted (although I think might have been deep fried) and trimmed fingerling potatoes added the needed starch.

The most amazing item on this dish was the fried bone marrow that crowned the beef tenderloin. Look at it! Ohmygosh this was just over-the-TOP!! (pun intended).

Personally, I was more impressed with the novelty of the marrow rather than the eating... it was literally a honkin' cut o' fat that was just too "fatty." When I cut into it, it just ooooozed grease... The crispy crust that encased the marrow, along with the chive and sea salt garnish was actually more interesting.

8th Course: Cheese Cart

Yep, like a good old French restaurant, as soon as my bread and butter were cleared, the server steered that puppy over to my table and rolled back the glass lid. From my estimation, there seemed to be a good score of cheese to choose from. When at hoity-toits, I try my darndedst to try only cheeses with which I am unfamiliar, unless an absolute favorite is in the mix. And I always try the blue - whatever it is, unless it's gorgonzola (see exception below).

I got greedy with the cart (read: lots of unfamiliar goodies) :raz: :

1. Moliterno - Italian cows milk cheese stored and aged with black truffles. It tasted especially awesome with the honey. I think this was my favorite of the entire selection.

2. Mimolette - I've had this bright orange French cheese before. Sweet yet sharp, I always love me some good Mimolette. It my only selection from the cheese trolley that I had eaten before.

3. Hoch Ybrig - From a small Swiss artisanal cheesemaker. Made in the style of Gruyere, this mountain cows milk cheese was surprisingly sweet - and had a creamier mouthfeel. As well, I thought it was grassier than a traditional Swiss cheese.

4. Andante Pastorale - This fresher goat's milk cheese was encrusted in a layer of local herbs. I really dislike chalky-bitter-tasting fresh goats milk cheeses (they often also have a tinge of sour). However, I was surprised at how mild this cheese was. The flavor really meshed well with the grassy herbs. I enjoyed this cheese more than I expected to.

5. Montgomery Cheddar - From England, of course. Very sharp with a sweet after-taste. Incredibly smokey. My small cut was toward the rind - so it was extremely dry and crumbly - if not chewy.

6. "Pau" - Named after the <a href="http://www.artisanalcheese.com/prodinfo.asp?number=10372">Spanish cheesemaker's</a> daughter, this Catalonian goat's milk cheese was, surprisingly, my least favorite selection. I was especially surprised because I usually especially enjoy aged goats milk (as opposed to fresh goats milk cheese) products. I found this cheese to be somewhat bitter and vegetale in flavor - sort of leather-like also in aroma (not consistency).

7. Guffanti Gorgonzola ("Piccante") - Although I LOVE blue cheeses, Gorgozolas are usually my least favorite because they tend to be sweet - the Australian Roaring Forties I'd consider a dessert! (Nevermind the fact that I love blue cheeses served with honey, or even gorgonzola gelato...)

However, when I do come across a Gorgozala "piccante," I make a point of trying it. I find the "piccante" versions much sharper. It's got all of the butteriness of the French Roquefort (which remains my favorite) - with just a slight hint of sweetness.

Pre-Dessert palate cleanser: Lychee Sorbet with Hibiscus gelee.

Notes: While both the lychee sorbet and the Hibiscus gelee were distinct by themselves, when eaten together, the lychee dominated. A most refreshing palate cleanser!

9th Course: Dessert - "Celebration of Strawberries"

(Rollover picture)

Presented as a "Celebration of Strawberries," this trio included:

1. Strawberry and honey-chevre tartlet - The most interesting taste sensation on this plate. I really enjoyed the musky "goatiness" of the cheese against the faint sweet of honey and the tart strawberries. The shortbread was pretty neutral in flavor, if not obscured by the assertive flavors of the chevre, honey and strawberries.

2. "Napoleon" of mascarpone-buttermilk panna cotta sandwiched between crispy phyllo. The Napoleon is topped with strawberries soaked in balsamic vinegar and it is topped with a square of sugar glass.

Interesting how similar desserts can be at two different restaurants... I think that Manresa's version from the night before was much more successful.

3. Strawberry sorbet with pistachios - Good, but otherwise unremarkable.

The entire plate is drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction.

Okay, if you know nothing about me... know this - I'm not a sweet-tooth, but I am a HUGE SUCKER for ice creams, gelatos and sorbets.... basically, you freeze it with cream and I'll eat it.

Not that I wasn't satisfied with my meal thus far... but my eyes happened to wander (as they often do) over the dessert menu items' iced accompinments. I spied with my eyes a few that sounded just too intriguing to leave without trying. I asked my server if the kitchen could supplement a sampling a few of their ice creams. After a unintentionally letting out a :blink: at my gluttony, said in the nicest and *sweetest* way possible... "but, of course."

... and for an extra $10, out came:

Ice Cream Tasting Supplement:

1. Honey ice cream - Where's the honey? :unsure: Couldn't taste it...

2. Carrot ice cream - this was surprisingly salty! Probably my second favorite ice cream behind the Bamboo rice. It was very carrot-y, but just a twee odd... can't place my finger on it.

3. Bamboo Rice ice cream - YUM. Yeah, this was pretty much the only one that I was truly curious about from seeing the dessert menu. It was truly novel - tasted of toasted rice... :raz:

4. Ameretti Tacchino ice cream - Very very faint almond flavor... barely perceptible... :hmmm:

A whole French press of their strongest decaf brew came out along a lavishly bedecked trolley laden with the mignardises and petite fours. They all looked pretty, but (a) I was rather full, (b) not a sweet-tooth - remember? and © nothing really appealed to me - mostly milk chocolates, nougats, lollipops, caramels (basically, nothing frozen or dark chocolate). I picked out three: sugared orange peel, a coffee-dusted marshmallow (dry and chewy - boo!), and a coconut-cocao nib macaroon (not macaron) that ended up being chewy and really rather dull... could see nibs, but couldn't taste them - they had gone soggy in the mix. :sad:

The bill came with a box of caramels to take home.

Overall, TDR pretty much met all of my expectations. From everything I've read about Chef Siegel and eGulleters, it was very formal setting and service. The food and plating, while traditionally French, did veer off into Asia (Japanese, to be specific - especially the spot prawn course). While the food wasn't sending off sparks, I did think that overall, everything was expertly prepared and well-planned. Some of the items I found a bit gimmicky - like the prawn heads and the upstairs-downstairs halibut and Dungeness crab. But, this was easily overlooked given the damn-good taste. Desserts did peter out a bit... especially the desserts. :sad:

The service was stupendously spectacular. In fact, I would give the service tops out of all five restaurants I visited. Ame and Manresa come close. Surprisingly, it was (other than The French Laundry) the most formal Continental-styled service of the five (ie. formal), I really got along with the staff. They were both helpful and very knowledgeable... as well, they were on cue with everything - spot on. Good show!

...okay, on to Chez Panisse...

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites
Will your promise on your next trip to go to Gary Danko? I'm really curious what you'd think, not just of the food but of the whole "show".

Yes, yes... too many people have pressured me about G.D.'s... and honestly, not that I regret having gone to TDR... the decision to leave out G.D.'s is haunting me... so too my decision to leave out FdL... ah, but then there's Quince and Incanto... okay... another trip to the Bay area is obviously needed!

...anyone out there willing to foot the bill? :laugh:

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not necessarily recommending it but I know you were considering it and after reading your descriptions (which have been spot on), I'd be curious how you'd react to GD.

Then I'll treat you to some al pastor tacos in the Mission. No, really. My treat! I insist!

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not necessarily recommending it but I know you were considering it and after reading your descriptions (which have been spot on),

... spot on to your assessments and tastes? :unsure:

I'd be curious how you'd react to GD.

Me too. Have you been?

Then I'll treat you to some al pastor tacos in the Mission. No, really. My treat! I insist!

Sounds great to me! :laugh:

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Me too.  Have you been? 

Then I'll treat you to some al pastor tacos in the Mission. No, really. My treat! I insist!

Sounds great to me! :laugh:

u.e.

We discussed it here. How quickly they forget!

But we're still on for tacos!

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...