: views from the Hill

Friday, January 27, 2006

The house that Carmel built ... and Destino

We took the F-Line a week ago yesterday to have lunch (and what turns out to be perhaps the best pisco sours in the City) at Destino at 1815 Market (at Guerrero).

We left home earlier than we needed to so we could have time to check out the house that Carmel built, The Fallon House at 1800 Market St, across the street from Destino.

The Fallon House was named for Carmel Fallon, his nibs' grandmother's grandmother. The family history is all there on the site -- the spinster rich girl who married the dashing adventurer and wound up whacking him over the head (with what is sometimes called a fireplace tool, sometimes called a lead pipe) when she found him in "a compromising position" with the housekeeper some twenty-seven years into the marriage.

Carmel left San Jose with her children in tow and resettled in San Francisco, where she was a business woman and landlord.

Appropriately enough, considering our older son's gay, Carmel's house is now the home of San Francisco's LGBT Community Center. We need to support both the house and the center.

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And Destino?

January is Dine About Town month here in San Francisco. The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau rounds up a list of restaurants that offer special tasting dinners and lunches for a fixed price ($21.95/lunch; $31.95/dinner). Sometimes these deals are more or less what you would get anyway. Sometimes these deals are real deals.

The idea is to get people into the restaurants during the usually slow month of January and to give all us folks braving the rain an opportunity to try some restaurants that we haven't tried before at a perhaps real deal.

Oh, and I mustn't forget Visa. You're supposed to pay with your Visa card in order to get the deal. I don't know what Visa tosses into the mix, maybe the money to pull the restaurant compilation together and advertise the event.

1815 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
phone: 415.552.4451

The Best Pisco Sours I've had since I came back from Peru and better than many of the ones I had in Peru.

And yummy food.

At Destino, their Dine About Town menu (for dinner) was identical to their DAT menu for lunch. $10 difference in price! $20 if there are two of you! We saved $20 by coming for lunch!

Of course the Destino pisco sours are $7.50/each ...

The restaurant is narrow and deep, and warm. The walls are a burnt orange and a perfect setting for the art on the walls: Spiritual Altars by Michael Oliver -- intriguing deep shadow boxes of different woods and sizes that frame collections of religious iconage, Madonnas and Jesus on the cross and a bit of this and a bit of that. The works reminded me of the home altars we came across in the hinterlands (and not so hinterlands) of Peru.

Our personable hostess started us off with banana chips/strips with a haunting minty sauce and our first round of pisco sours.

For the appetizer course, I had the Ceviche a la Peruana -- sea bass, red onions, cilantro and cancha (toasted corn bits that added an interesting crunch). The combination of the soft/tart ceviche with the crunch corn was tasty. The cancha was a great touch that took the ceviche just a step further than ceviche usually goes.

His nibs had the chile relleno, a poblano chile stuffed with ground sirloin and shredded sharp cheddar, topped with a roasted chipotle salsa and creme fraiche. Both appetizers were well worth repeating.

We both order the salmon for our main dish, which the restaurant describes as Panela Marinated King Salmon with Squash-Goat Cheese Puree, Sauteed Spinach, Medjool Dates. I can't swear to the Medjool dates. The salmon arrived on top of the squash puree. The spinach was to the side. The dish was tasty. I wished I'd tried something else off the menu so we could see whether we were just being lucky or whether everything was really just that good.

For dessert, his nibs had the "Dulce de Leche" Pumpkin Pudding Cake with Pepitas Crunch and Tequila-Cajeta Sauce. Delicious. I had the Aztec "Xocoatle" Flan which came served on a piece of Peruvian Cacao-Nib Shortbread. Um. Here for the first time was something I wouldn't order again. Even if the shortbread was made with cacao, I expected it to be shorter, more buttery, even, dare I say it, not so bitter. The cookie was flat, uninteresting and too there. The "Xocoatle" flan was okay, but not something I'd rave about to friends. I probably would've been better off ordering the Pear-Ginger sorbet with Malbec granita.

After lunch, we hopped the F-Line back home, stopping off at the Asian Art Museum to check out the current show.

After checking out the show, and before we were tossed out of the museum, we took the trolley, got off near Pier 23, and toddled up the stairs to home, where I promptly fell to nap in one of the living room chairs.

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