As a lover of dining French style and also San Francisco, this girl has enjoyed a meal at Jardiniere before. When a friend visiting from Toronto mentioned wanting to enjoy food and wine in San Francisco, Jardiniere came to mind. Known for their French-California Cuisine I though it was a good fit for a visiting Canadian.
Chef Traci Des Jardins, winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chefs in America in 2007 (More: Here ) in the Pacific Region, is also lovely in person, although I only had the chance to meet her briefly once.
French food seemed fitting and the California flair showing off what chefs can do locally using French techniques, I figured Jardiniere would work nicely for eats. Housed in a Landmark building in San Francisco’s Civic Center, the restaurant has terrific ambiance.
A native of Northern California, Traci Des Jardins has four restaurants in San Francisco, including Jardinière. Prior to opening these spots, she was classically trained in French cuisine by some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world. And it shows.
This dining experience took place on a weeknight and we were seated upstairs. We could have a nice conversation and the background noise wasn’t a problem. I love the vintage brick walls and arches in the architecture of the old building.
The staff was attentive to our needs and also our wine glasses which of course I find important as well. The wine list at the restaurant is phenomenal, especially when it comes to some of my Sonoma County favorites which made the cut.
For you wine lovers out there, you can enjoy hard to find bottles like Hirsch Vineyards, Kosta Browne, Claypool Cellars and Kanzler Pinot Noir from Sonoma’s finest grapes. The Sommelier, Jai, was attending the Tool concert that evening and I was sad to miss him as he can be ever so helpful with pairing just the right food and wine.
But who can blame him when it comes to the epic show that Tool can put on. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing their show since the mid 90’s but with Maynard painted blue and them releasing a new music video…it was a not to forget performance. Again, Epic.
Back to the wine. Featuring wine and champagne from around the world, the wine list is extensive and the novice should ask the Somm for help when pairing food choices. To start we choose the Kanzler Pinot Noir, 2011 which was quite lovely.
Linda Kanzler is a terrific lady who I always enjoy chatting with. The wines from the Kanzler vineyards, which I don’t often get to enjoy due to their small lot production, are complex and really show off the Sonoma County terrain well.
Later that evening we enjoyed a 2005 Ackerman Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon which was a fierce juice choice by my Canadian friend. It drank beautifully. Not overpowering in fruit and more Bordeaux in style, much enjoyed and was the winner of the two bottles for the night in my opinion. Thanks Tom.
On to the food speak. We started with the charcuterie including ciccioli, lonza, finochiona, soppressata. Lovely plating and bites. Great way to start any meal. I choose the rooftop greens salad which was as fresh as they come.
I have recently been chatting with Michael, the rooftop gardener at Jardiniere on twitter and it was nice to enjoy the lovely and edible flowers that I see in his photos from the harvest each day.
Also terrific that these rooftop garden and green areas seem to be pooping up all over the city, helping to bring nature back where it belongs and fight climate disruption in even the smallest of ways is also inspiring in a city like San Francisco. And the salad was good too…haha.
Following this course, an enchanting glass of essence of mushroom came to the table compliments of the chef. It was quite perfect for a warm note after the salad and similar to drinking a wild mushroom. Yummy. Also tried were the diver boat scallops whose presentation was quite lovely. Another winner.
For the entree I choose the duck confit which is normally served med rare but I choose medium. I like to choose outside the box when it comes to dining, as I try and train both my nose and palate to new experiences.
I am currently in training for my CSW certificate and this is one of my challenges. Duck is outside the box for me although I really enjoy it at Underwood Bar & Bistro in Graton and Willi’s Wine Bar has a terrific small bites duck skewer that is yummy. I was not a fan of this particular style to present duck, but that is a personal opinion.
The mushroom risotto was also wonderful and very creamy as any good risotto should be. I love when mushrooms are used for the protein and they can be a perfectly savory addition to the risotto when done well. Which they were.
Overall the dining experience was a good one with a few flaws from the staff that were able to be overlooked for now but were surprising for such a fine dining establishment. When ordering water without ice, it was presented with ice. Props to Tom for having manners and not sending it back although it was noted by the table.
Also noted was that the sommelier did not pay the table a visit to discuss food and wine pairings or choices we had made. Otherwise, the staff was wonderful and knew all about the menu and restaurant. I have visited before with the Claypool Cellars gang and dined well into the evening and had an absolutely fabulous time with all the best of service as well.
The menus at Jardiniere San Francisco reflect the most vibrant foods of the season and the menu changes with the season as well allowing guests to enjoy California cuisine at it’s best. One of the things that also keeps me coming back to this restaurant is Chef Traci’s tireless fundraising for her local community and afar.
I love a company who feels it is important to give back. I also enjoyed watching her when she was the runner-up on the Bravo TV series Top Chef Masters, to earn more than $30,000 for La Cocina, a nonprofit for food businesses in San Francisco’s Mission District.
I had a terrific hike around the Bay Bridge and Presidio area in the morning before heading back to Wine Country. Bridge is always so beautiful on a sunny day like this. My last dining experience at Jardiniere included good food, wine, conversation and great company!