The views are eye opening
at these eateries
by Matthew S. Bajko
Merriam-Webster defines the word view as "extent or range of vision." It also includes "scene, prospect" as a secondary meaning.
In terms of restaurants with a view, so often the draw for diners' eyes is to what extent they can see outside of the eatery. More likely than not the scenes framed by an establishment's windows are what wins it raves.
The scenic outdoors, awe-inspiring sunsets, city skylines, or ocean landscapes all lure diners to various restaurants. In some circumstances, the view can outshine the food served. In others the visual sumptuousness complements what is created in the kitchen.
Yet how does one define a restaurant's view when its windows look upon nothing of grandeur? Is the measurement based on the works of art plated by the chef, just as photographable as an outdoor tableau?
These are the questions raised by the winning establishments sharing the title of best restaurant with a view in this year's Best of the Gays. Tied for the honor are the Cliff House, perched perilously close to the Pacific Ocean, and Gary Danko, tucked into a corner spot a block away from Ghirardelli Square.
An elegant spot for dinner or cocktails after a day at the beach, the Cliff House shared this category in last year's Best of the Gays poll. It has been luring city residents and visitors to the ends of the Earth since 1863.
Situated in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Cliff House underwent a major renovation in 2004. Its Sutro Wing is a two-story dining room that promises guests "stunning panoramic ocean views."
Its window seating is so coveted that the restaurant does not allow reservations specifically for one of the oceanside tables. However, one can be requested upon arrival, and on fogless days, the wait is well worth the time spent.
At the 14-year-old Gary Danko, the lure has more to do with the eye-popping entrees dished up by chef-owner Gary Danko, who was named best chef in last year's Best of the Gays poll. Reservations need to be made two months in advance for the 75-seat award-winning restaurant at the base of Russian Hill.
While the interior itself is stunning, it is the dishes that continually impress the eyes. One need only search on Google under "Gary Danko photos" to see pages of images of the meals that have dazzled diners there.
As one reviewer online noted, "I spent most of my time concentrating on my food."
Cliff House, 1090 Point Lobos, San Francisco, (415) 386-3330. http://www.cliffhouse.com.
Gary Danko, 800 North Point, San Francisco, (415) 749-2060. http://www.garydanko.com.