The list of reasons to recommend Jardiniere as a place to dine starts, of course, with the food. But that is quickly followed by the ambiance, outstanding staff, location, and that rare San Francisco commodity – parking.
The menu, no matter how it changes daily to provide fresh seasonal dishes, is inviting. The preparation and presentation of the food delivers on the promise of that invitation.
Every dish speaks with the heavy accent of French cuisine suited to the tastes of Northern Californians. Jardiniere charcuterie is a regular menu item, but it isn’t the standard Italian fare offered at so many other places. Instead you are apt to find the likes of lonza, finocchion, and rillettes along with the more traditional bresaola and soppressata. And pricey caviars always top the menu.
Like anchovies? These are crispy, fresh and dished up with smoked eggplant.
Salads are varied and inventive and might include tuna, beef or chicken. You might find tagliatelle with lamb sugo and charred eggplant; garganellli with charred octopus; risotto with lobster mushroom, or oysters with cucumber.
Main courses could provide wonderfully prepared quail; seasonal wild-caught salmon: duck breast with a mole sauce: a trio of lamb that includes shoulder, belly and loin; or a variety of chicken preparations. You want fish? The skin will be nice and crisp and the meat nice and moist. Short ribs? A rich brown cover for juicy, tender meat on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and perfectly seasoned and cooked lentils. Whatever appears on the menu on any given day, it will be dependably extraordinary.
To finish the meal there will be an available assortment of cheese options or desserts to appeal to virtually any taste.
The décor at Jardiniere also is special. The restaurant is housed in an historic building in the Civic Center area of San Francisco. Wood floors and brick walks provide a balance of warmth and history. The bar and lounge area is welcoming and brings a separate assortment of small plates. Every inch of the restaurant is dressed in warm colors and has been tastefully decorated.
Location? How about a large parking structure on the same block as the restaurant. Perfect for leaving your car and walking to the War Memorial Opera House two blocks away or some of the other nearby theatres.
The front desk staff, the barkeeps, and the wait staff are friendly but not intrusive, and extremely helpful.
Jardiniere is well worth a visit, whether you are looking for a place convenient to the local theatre venues, or you just appreciate excellent food in a wonderful environment.