I decided on Wayfare Tavern for my belated birthday dinner. Given we were going with the kids we made an early 5pm reservation. I read no reviews on this place (on purpose) with my only information coming from seeing a few tweets from people who had gone there and loved it.
Since the restaurant is downtown there’s no free parking before 6pm so decided to do the $10 valet. Nice and easy. Once inside, the place was already hopping with people at the bar. I was a little surprised given we were there so early. But I guess combine being in the financial district with a Friday and I shouldn’t be.
The hostess was very nice and said the table was upstairs and if we wanted to use the elevator. As we were on the elevator, she mentioned that there was a third floor which was for private dinners.
The second floor was empty with a bar at the far end.
The waitress came and made us feel at home as we got set up. I had to take Emma to the bathroom which was located by the bar. Nice bathroom.
The menu item that caught my eye was the poutine since I had been talking to my friend about it who just got back from Montreal. This version of poutine had braised short ribs on top and I noticed they used mozzarella curd. Definitely not authentic but let’s see how it tastes.
We went with the roasted organic beets and 1/2 order of fresh oysters to round out our appetizers.
We ordered mac n cheese for Emma and asked for it to come out first.
For our mains Anna had the fried chicken which I was eyeing but ended up going for the special which was a veal chop with bread pieces and all these veggies (ones I could remember – carrots, ramps, radish) on top in an anchovy vinaigrette. Other items I considered were the burger, steak frites, and pot roast (but decided to pass on all since the poutine had the short ribs on it – too much meat!).
We were asked if we wanted still or carbonated water and went with still. Anna ordered an Arnold Palmer.
We ordered a watered down cranberry juice for Emma.
A server came by and gave each of us a popover (even Lilly!). They were warm and tasty. There was a small dish of butter sprinkled with salt which I spread liberally on my popover!
The waitress came by and asked me if I wanted anything to drink. I decided to get a glass of The Four Graces Pinot Noir.
When the waitress came out with the mac n cheese she told us that she had it made without all the spices and extras since it was for Emma. Very thoughtful. However, in hindsight, I guess she should have asked us if we wanted it that way when ordering. But I give her full marks for being aware that it was being served to a toddler. It was tasty but could have been hotter.
Emma, who is normally pretty chill when eating out, was not so cooperative on this night. She broke down crying once (that was fun). She didn’t want to eat the mac n cheese. She didn’t want the popover. She only wanted the plain pasta we brought along. We realized that she had been chowing down on snacks (they had a party event) at school just before we went to dinner. Supposedly one of the teachers said, “Emma sure can eat!”. Plus she hadn’t done a #2 (hey just telling the truth). Unfortunately (for us) that meant she was in no mood to eat and probably uncomfortable.
Next came the poutine. It was decent sized dish and definitely good portion of braised short ribs. I thought there could have been more curds.
I was surprised how thin the fries were. I remember poutine from back home being thick cut fries, crispy on the outside and oh so nice and fluffy on the inside.
I can’t complain about the taste of this dish. The short ribs were great. Fries were a bit soggy but probably because they piled on the meat! Again, the only complaint we had was that the dish could have come out piping hot rather than lukewarm. Maybe that’s why the fries were soggy – sitting too long?
The beet salad was great. The gooseberries were still attached to its leaves. Can you eat that? I thought you could. No go.
The fried chicken came out next. It was definitely a highlight. Very good.
My veal chop was great too. Awesome taste and very enjoyable. I thought was perfectly cooked until I got closer to the bone. I was disappointed because the meat around the bone was very underdone (raw). I don’t mind rare meat but this was definitely not cooked through. I tried cutting the meat away from the bone and was unable too. A shame because I wasted a lot of the meat. And at $32 a chop, I kind of wanted to get every bit of the meat especially since it was tasty.
At this point, I’m pretty full. I also realized that the waitress forgot to bring us our oysters which was fine since I didn’t have room for it. However, I did have room for dessert. The waitress brought the menu and recommended the sticky toffee pudding and the pineapple upside down cake. I decided on the former and Anna mentioned that it was my birthday to the waitress.
The pudding came with a candle.
And this was a nice touch which I noticed after I ate the dessert but you should be able to make out the “Happy Birthday”
The dessert was ok but I didn’t think it was anything special.
The waitress came by with a surprise. Nice.
We had asked for the leftover chicken and mac n cheese to be packed up. The waitress gave us a claim check and said it would be waiting downstairs at the front desk.
I checked the bill to make sure the oysters were not on it.
Once we paid we headed down the elevator and to the front desk to pick up our leftovers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t there so the hostess had to go upstairs to get it. I guess there was glitch in the process.
Once outside, I gave my valet ticket to the the valet guy and our car was promptly brought out. I forgot I hadn’t paid him the $10 so had given him the tip and he was like “Hey it’s $10!”. Oops. Sorry.
The place was packed by the time we left around 7pm.
Overall, we enjoyed the food although not sure if I agree with the tweets I saw raving about the place. The service was great. Anna said for the first time, she felt a bit self conscious with the kids. I was ok on that front (for the most part) but it did cross my mind as there were no other families in sight. I hope to come back in the future although with so many choices out there it may be awhile. I wouldn’t mind checking out Tyler Florence’s Mill Valley restaurant El Paseo some time.
558 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA