Since 1997 Jardinière has been serving French-Californian cuisine to theatergoers and foodies alike. Situated on the corner of Grove and Gough, there’s a good chance you’ve dined here before if you’ve visited San Francisco’s Performing Arts Center. Chef/Owner Traci Des Jardins is no stranger to these parts, known as one of the top female chefs in the country; Des Jardins has four restaurants within San Francisco and has appeared on shows like Iron Chef America and Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.
The Northern California native’s restaurant has served as a
pipeline of talent for up-and-coming chefs; many who now operate the
restaurateur’s growing group of dining hotspots. With her drive to evolve, diners are exposed to a unique take
on old world cuisine.
Jardinière’s interior is one of the most striking in the city; an elegant contemporary take on classic theater like features with exposed brick walls, mahogany accents; curvy champagne colored balustrades that line a stylish winding stairway, and an oval shaped atrium. The central dome above the two tiers is a design influenced by an inverted champagne glass, with twinkling lights representing bubbles.
Keeping with Des Jardins focus on evolving; Jardinière utilizes locally sourced organic-sustainable meat and produce. There’s no arguing that this commitment is reflected by Jardinière’s rooftop apiary, where they produce their own honey. The menu is driven by the season’s bounty, and most of the cuisines elements are crafted in-house including artisan cheeses that are kept in their aging room; this paired with a robust selection of wines from all over the world, should prove to be an attraction for those who appreciate exclusivity.
The house is ran by General Manager Stephen Cox, whose staff
exudes a high-level of hospitality and edict; in our observation this was
maintained even through the high volume of diners that fluctuate with the theater
So How was it? Read on…
Walking through the door you’re taken by the striking interior; a
beautifully lit design that is not only attractive but functional. Jardinière’s
friendly staff seated us upstairs and we dove into cocktails. Bottom left;
pictured Left – the Cutlass, Ranchero Tequila
Blanco, and lemon, La Pinta
Pomegranate Liqueur, Cucumber.
Right - Lexington, Buffalo Trace
Bourbon, Gran Classico, Cardamaro and cinnamon bitters -- both
solid cocktails and recommended.
For our first course, we had the Cured Kampachi, avocado, ramp vinaigrette; that was paired with Shimaoka Shuzo, Gunma Izumi Honjozo Sake from Gunma Japan – Pictured bottom right; an outstanding sake pairing with this fresh Hawaiian fish served as sashimi.
Second course was the Beef Tartare, pickled radish, mustard; paired with a Pinot Blanc, Meyer-Fonne “Vieilles Vignes” from Alsace, France 2011; pictured below. Nicely seasoned -- light -- the pickled radish pleasantly hits the sides of the tongue; further eventuated by a fine pinot blanc.
Our third course; King Salmon, fava bean, shrimp and
chervil; paired with Prager, Gruner, Veltliner Federspiel,
“Hinter Der Burg” Wachau, Austria
2011. Both shrimp and salmon were cooked perfectly in a light broth, the fava bean added a pleasant texture.
Our fifth course the Wagyu, broccoli di ciccio with
bordelaise; paired with Bressan, Schioppettino, Venezia Giulia, Italy 2006. The Wagyu was fair, considering its
title; however the paring was the star of the show, fragrant, spicy, herbal and
red berry nose. Medium weight and an excellent acidic finish.
Onto the sixth course, Good Thunder, garden pea pancake; paired with Joh. Jos. Prum, Riesling Kabinett “Graacher Himmelreich” Mosel, Germany 2008 – pictured below. While seemingly simplistic, it was one of our favorite dishes of the evening that had a sweet-complex flavor with and “Class A” Riesling to set it off. This was our first taste of the rich-smoky beer washed-rind cheese, Good Thunder -- and it won’t be our last.
Overall our experience was pleasurable, from the food-to the service; we certainly left fulfilled with an evening full of distinct flavors and fine wine.
Jardinière continues to be a cherished dining spot by San Francisco locals and tourists alike; with its stunning interior, chic atmosphere, and cuisine crafted with “today’s” ethics -- you can’t go wrong.
- Michael & Jennifer Underwood - Editors, Eat"Speak"SF