Thursday, June 16, 2005
What I learned from Gary Danko
Several weeks ago, the Papa and I ventured into SF for a nice dinner at Gary Danko. I'm really not much of a foodie - in the sense that I don't know that many restaurants, don't keep in touch with which restaurant has who cooking at it, or haven't been to too many revered spots. Gary Danko was my first visit to an SF restaurant that gets a whole lot of hype.
Over all, my impression was good. The service was absolutely wonderful and pleasant. The food was all very good, although nothing I ate was so memorable that several weeks later, I am enamored by it. Since I usually prefer smaller kitchens where I can taste the spirit of the cook in the food, these bigger establishments with what feels like a ton of cooks working together sort of dilutes the impression of the food. I couldn't see/taste the cook behind the food...
But I did learn a few things there. The first and foremost was the importance of plating. Each plate was exquisitely plated and visually appetizing. The dish was plated with the elements of a perfect photograph. In my high school photo class, I was taught that each shot should be broken into nine squares with three empty, three full, and three in between usage. The plates at Gary Danko fit right into these squares. And it made a very big difference in the enjoyment of food.
I also learned that fruits go well in sauces (although the Vietnamese have also taught me this already before in their mam nem - more on that later). And that a parting gift of a muffin makes customers remember the evening well into the next day and beyond.
They gave us a pineapple muffin in a Gary Danko wrapper. The muffin itself wasn't particularly memorable either, but the gesture was. It put a smile on my face a few days later as I sat outside and enjoyed my muffin for breakfast.
Thank you for dinner, Papa! May The Baby Bear's Education in SF Fine Dining continue...