San Francisco is a city of natural wonders. Even the much-maligned tourist trap Pier 39, which locals would have you believe is roughly equivalent to the third circle of Dante’s Inferno, has as its biggest attraction a colony of sea lions. They started arriving shortly after the 1989 quake, apparently taking over the docks in January 1990. At this point, their population swells to 900 in the winter, and a small group chooses to remain at Pier 39 throughout the year. They may smell a little… fishy… but they’re hard to resist.
Another wonder is the city’s commitment to locally sourced produce. On almost any day of the week there is a farmers’ market somewhere in San Francisco. The most famous is the Ferry Plaza Market, which takes place every Saturday at the Embarcadero. (“Tasting the Bounty of San Francisco Markets” by Sharon Otterman ran in The New York Times a few days after I left San Francisco; it covers the Ferry Plaza Market, the Alemany Market, the Heart of the City Market, and the Crocker Galleria Market.)
Organic local produce was on many menus I sampled in San Francisco, but the offerings at Fish & Farm really stood out. This elegant yet low-key restaurant, adjacent to the Mark Twain Hotel, sources almost all of its ingredients from within 100 miles of the city. All of its produce is organic, and the seafood and meat are sustainably farmed. The staff was well-versed about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, and they were able to quickly point out the few dishes on the menu that couldn’t be prepared in a gluten-free version. I started with a simple green salad, made memorable by the addition of Asian pears and caramelized almonds and drizzled with a cabernet vinaigrette. My main course was leg of duck with lentils and endive in a sweet-and-sour sauce. Even the house cocktails were made from organic ingredients (I enjoyed the sweetly tart Huckleberry Friend, which mixes house-infused huckleberry vodka with citrus sugar). If you’re not already familiar with the Locavore movement, Fish & Farm will definitely convince you of its worth.
Fish & Farm [address] 339 Taylor Street (adjacent to the Mark Twain Hotel), San Francisco, CA 94102 [tel] 415-474-3474 [web] www.fishandfarmsf.com