Note: The Dining Room is closed. The current dining venue is The Lobby Lounge.
Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco
Filling a Big Toque
Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco has been among the
best restaurants in San Francisco since it opened in 1991. Its exquisite,
formal décor, top-of-the-line wine list, ultra-professional
service and live dinner music combine to create a showcase for the
food, while its kitchen has launched the careers of many prominent
Bay area chefs.
The current leader of The
Dining Room’s culinary brigade is Ron Siegel, a polished
veteran of San Francisco fine dining. Most recently the executive
chef at Masa’s,
Siegel has a resume that reads like a Who’s Who of Northern
California restaurants: Aqua, The
French Laundry and Charles
Nob Hill preceded his recent postings, along with a year of
training under Daniel
Boulud in New York.
would create a buzz for most chefs, but for Siegel, the attention
was whipped to a frenzy when, during his tenure at Charles Nob Hill,
he was invited to compete on the Japanese television show, Iron
Chef, and defeated chef Hiroyuki Sakai in the “lobster challenge.”
Siegel now faces a new challenge: He succeeds a pair of very big
Most recently, Sylvain Portay cracked the whip in The Dining Room’s
kitchen. Portay, who held the executive chef’s job for eight
years, came to San Francisco from Le
Cirque in New York. Portay earned numerous awards for the restaurant
with his classical French approach and, with our 18-point rating,
ran one of the highest-rated restaurants in the country
The chef who established the reputation that The Dining Room continues
to enjoy today was Gary Danko, who reigned over the stoves from
the restaurant’s opening until 1996, when he left to open Viognier in San Mateo and then his award-winning eponymous
restaurant in San Francisco. Danko shepherded the careers of
many notable chefs while at The Dining Room, including Lance Dean
Velasquez of Home,
David Frakes of Beringer Vineyards in St. Helena, Scott Giambastiani
of Viognier and Tim Goodell of Aubergine in Newport Beach.
Although one might expect to see The Dining Room menu acquire a
Japanese accent under Siegel, for now, the menu has taken a decidedly
American turn, offering starters like chilled corn soup with lobster
tartare and golden osetra caviar; and pan-seared quail with spice-roasted
Entrees include four sophisticated fish options. Snapper is infused
with lemon verbena and paired with Vidalia onions. Showing his interest
in things Asian, Siegel gives his porcini-crusted black bass a fusion
accent by serving the fish over glass noodles in a curry broth.
Heartier appetites could indulge in the Niman Ranch lamb chops accompanied
by ratatouille-stuffed zucchini blossoms and roasted fingerling
potatoes. The prime beef rib-eye arrives indulgently paired with
bone marrow, wild mushrooms and bordelaise sauce.
The six-course tasting menu is well worth the $89 price, with a
$15 supplement to sample a selection of artisanal cheeses. Test
the Iron Chef’s judgment when you go this route, because one
course is Maine lobster with corn pudding and lobster sauce. Vegetarians
who grew accustomed to Siegel’s meatless prix-fixe cuisine
will be happy to know he has brought that concept with him to The
Dining Room, also a six-course list for $89.
(Updated: 09/13/10 NW)