Farallon (450 Post Street, San Francisco's Union Square/www.farallonrestaurant.com) (see photo) is a seafood restaurant with a flair for the unique and unusual. Chef Parke Ulrich is a master when it comes to taking delicate seafood items like scallops, lobster, clams and crab and making them taste great without dominating them with other flavors. Ulrich believes in enhancing the seafood's natural flavors, not overpowering them with seasoning or sauces. Farallon has won a ton of awards for their incredible cuisine, from the Best Pastry Chef (Emily Luchettti) by the James Beard Foundation; The Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, the Bay Area Top 100 Restaurants and the Top 10 America's Best from Seafood Houses. Farallon's signature dishes include a Dungeness Crab Stuffed Rouget (with Serano jam and a red wine syrup); the Local Oyster Chowder (with smoked potatoes); and the Cedar Planked Alaskan Halibut (with a sweetbread hash, cipollini onions and pomegranate jewels). Everything was excellent, except I could have done without the pomegranate with the halibut. It must be the new, hip thing to use pomegranate in dishes nowadays, but every time I taste it in one, it seems out of place. Farallon also has a very affordable Pre-Theater Prix Fixe Menu, which consists of a three-course dinner for $45 per person, served until 6 pm nightly. For seafood done right, you can't go wrong with Farallon.
The Cosmopolitan (121 Spear Street, San Francisco/www.thecosmopolitancafe.com) is a top-tier restaurant with first-class food and service in a classy atmosphere. The food is amazing and memorable, because it focuses on the creative utilization of fresh, local ingredients. One Wed.-Sat., the Cosmo has a live piano bar with jazz in their lounge. People fill the place up every evening for inventive drinks and great, reasonably-priced appetizers. I can recommend the Dungeness Crab Enchiladas with a Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa; the Crisp Duck, with Arugula, Frisee, Asian Pear and Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese; and the Calamari and Artichoke Fritto Misto. For entrees, I have sampled the Grilled Certified Angus Hangers Steak; the Wild Mushroom-Potato "Lasagne" with Bellwether Farm Ricotta and Smoked Roasted Tomato; and the Sauteed Dayboat Sea Scallops, with an outstanding Oxtail Risotto with White Truffle Oil, Black Trumpet Mushrooms and a fantastic Morelloe Sauce. The Cosmo is excellent in every way and as hard as I try, I cannot find even one even mildly disparaging remark to make about it.