Saturday, September 23, 2017

AI and Steaks at SF

I was in the United States to attend an AI conference.  Luckily for me, it was being held in downtown  San Francisco, a location that is chock-full of my favourite restaurants.  This trip turned out to be a perfect mix of business and pleasure. I had been missing steaks for a while, and this also gave me a chance to try out some of the city’s better steakhouses.

Earlier, I had travelled by Emirates after a long break. I am happy to report that my favourite airline continues to be on the top of their game.  The aircraft I travelled in had newer seats and gadgets and it was fun as ever to stretch and socialise in the bar/lounge area within the business class cabin.  Dubai’s business class lounge at the B Gates too has a new, fresh look after a recent renovation.  San Francisco welcomed me with a clear, sunny weather on the day I landed and I was soon in my limo headed to the hotel I had booked via Airbnb.

The Donatella is a very nice hotel right in the heart of the Union Square area. My room was fairly large, the bathroom well appointed, and the wifi worked flawlessly.  The staff was friendly and efficient too.  However, what made this hotel experience unique was that I had booked two nights here via Airbnb from a lady who has a time-share here. Overall the room cost me a fraction of the rates in nearby Marriott hotels with pretty much similar facilities.

That evening I made a reservation for dinner at Alfred’s, a steakhouse in the classic tradition: red walls, circular chandeliers and red sofas.  The ambiance is distinctly masculine, old-American style unlike the newer steakhouses with their modern, chic Japanese-inspired decor.

My wedge salad with buttermilk dressing, blue cheese and bacon was amazing.  I have always found the salads at good steakhouses to be very good.

My 12 oz. New York steak was done just right and I had ordered the three peppercorn sauce to go with it along with a side of mascarpone mashed potatoes.  This is what I had come for and I savoured every bite of it.

The Spumoni sundae made of frozen custard, whipped cream and cherries provided a sweet ending to the dinner but wasn’t particularly a good choice.  I should probably have ordered the Banana Foster instead which is crafted table-side at this restaurant.

The other steak highlight of this trip came three days later when the conference ended.  I walked down to San Francisco’s popular House of Prime Rib for an early dinner.  It was difficult getting a reservation for one person, so I walked up to the bar when the restaurant opened. Within a few minutes all the bar-stools were occupied and the restaurant was full - always a good sign!

The House of Prime Rib just focuses on one thing, and does it remarkably well.  All you need to do is figure out how large a cut you would like and if you want that with a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned.  The meat comes with creamed spinach, mashed potatoes with gravy and a Yorkshire pudding.  The dinner could not have been better.  The meat and every thing else was just perfect.  As I walked out and back to my hotel I was a happy man, a very happy man!

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