San Francisco's foodie scene is full of hidden gems, especially because residents often hole up in their base neighborhoods and seldom venture out. If you haven't made Cow Hollow a destination for a girls' night out or a date night, get there as soon as you can. And land at Palm House on 2032 Union Street.
The Palm House sits under the second oldest palm tree in San Francisco, a 150 year old palm tree. If that's not a solid piece of history, also know that you're dining in the original 1854 dairy farm house where Cow Hollow derives its name. (If California history and San Francisco history interests you, visit Where the Buffalo Roam to learn more about Cow Hollow.)
Growing up my family would venture into the City specifically Cow Hollow at least once a month. Memories of lunches under retracting glass roofs, french pastries made by two sisters, and baskets of potpourri. I had forgotten how much I enjoy spending time in Cow Hollow. That is until I was invited to sample the new menu at Palm House San Francisco conceived by Bay Area Native, Chef Chris Rickets.
I love exploring new restaurants with a group. Why? Because you get to try more of the chef's culinary exploits. A dozen of us were treated to four of the restaurant's starters, three main dishes, and dessert. And we had the opportunity to try three speciality cocktails, of which I had two. I didn't try the 5 Spice Dark N Stormy, even though the Dark N Stormy is one of my go to cocktails, but after hearing about the rum--it's exclusive to the Palm House, it will be the drink I'm starting my next meal off with.
Now about the food. A lot of lip service is paid to flavor profiles, choosing the freshest, highest quality ingredients, and letting them sing. Palm House delivered the goods. Rarely are my tastebuds graced with harmonies of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and earthy. Balance is so easy to miss when you're getting food out to a group. But Chef Chris Rickets and his team did it.
For any of us who wanted to add more spice to the fare, they had two house made hot sauces, one with an apple cider vinegar base and fresno peppers and the other a little hotter. I love hot sauces with apple cider so of the two it was the only one I tried. It was mildly sweet, with tang from the apple cider vinegar, and a touch of heat in the finish. The heat was pleasant, not enough to scorch one's tastebuds. Both hot sauces will be offered for sale shortly. They didn't yet have labels so we weren't able to take some home with us.
I could have made a meal with just the starters. I'm still unable to choose a favorite dish, waffling between the Kalua Pork Shoulder, the Red Stripe Steamed Mussels, and the Free Range Jerk Chicken. Next up in my list of must eat (strike and replace eat with devour!) are the Salmon Lomi Lomi and Little Gems salad with Togarashi Vinaigrette. I could drink the vinaigrette and really hope they bottle some of it along side the hot sauces for guests to purchase and enjoy at home.
All of us were pretty stuffed by the time the dessert course came out, but we soldiered on. Our reward was a solid chocolate ganache that once pierced revealed a chocolate cake with dreams of being fudge but without the weight of a fudge. The caramelized banana and ice cream were the perfect foils.
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
DISCLOSURE: My cocktails and dinner were complimentary for purposes of my review. All opinions presented are my own.