Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Cliff House Restaurant

Since 1863, the Cliff House has been a beloved San Francisco landmark at which prominent families in the Bay Area, including the Stanfords, Hearsts, Hopkins, and Fairmonts used to dine. In 1896, the Cliff House was owned by millionaire and mayor of San Francisco, Adolph Sutro, who also built the Sutro Baths below the restaurant. At this time, the Sutro Baths were classified as the largest indoor swimming pool complex in the world with one freshwater pool and six saltwater pools, all of varying temperatures.

After twice being destroyed by fire, the restaurant was rebuilt in 1910 by Sutro's daughter in the neoclassic style building that remains today. The present day owners, the Hountalas Familily, restored the structure with the help of the National Park Service; because of this joint venture, the structure contains a stunning restaurant with floor to ceiling panoramic views of the ocean as well as historical architectural elements which elegantly combine past and present.

As the only ocean-front restaurant in San Francisco, the Cliff House has spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, Marin County and San Francisco Bay. The main dining area, Sutro's, offers an award winning wine list and a delectable array of California style cuisine for lunch and dinner. Head Chef, Kevin Weber, prides himself on ingredients that are fresh, organic, local, seasonal, and sustainable.

This passion for healthy homegrown food is also reflected in the General Manager, Ralph Burgin, who lovingly cultivates over one thousand varieties of heirloom tomatoes on his farm in Sonoma; these flavorful tomatoes are featured in their summer specialties.

Our lunch dishes included a visually appealing appetizer made from fresh heirloom tomatoes and watermelon served beside a classic cheese and tomato tart, the Cliff House Louie (a very generous portion of fresh Dungeness Crab), the fresh local Rock Cod (so fresh and simple and yet so delicious), and of course, dessert.

We savoured two classics with a twist: a Bruleed Vanilla Pearl Tapioca with fresh berries which was a very modern take on a traditional favorite, and a Frozen Lemon Souffle served with blueberries, aged balsamic, lemon curd, and a citrus shortbread cookie.

All in all, our meal was sumptuous in both flavor and view. There was only one thing to do after such a lovely lunch, and that was to stroll hand in hand along Ocean Beach which curves beyond the Cliff House for miles and miles. It was the fitting end to a wonderful afternoon.

The Cliff House Restaurant
1090 Point Lobos
San Francisco

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