I AM a sight for sore eyes and gloriously awesome
but people need a break sometimes. The other benefits at Franciscan's - free parking validation (parking meters are 5 minutes/quarter at 7 days a week), reasonably priced ($1-2 more than the crab stands across the street), away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowd, and I like the food.
As we ascend the stairs to the dining room the walkway is densly cluttered with black and white pictures of old Hollywood celebrities, Elizabeth Taylor is my favorite. We like to sit on the left side of the restaurant with a clear view of Alcatraz and the ferry boats shuttling people like cattles. I haven't been back to Alcatraz since elementary school where we made a few voyugues a year and for some reason always in bad weather.
We usually begin with the $12.95 Dungeness Crab, Smoked Salmon Crostini served with burrata cheese. The crab meat is mounded on top of the smoked salmon. The burrata feels like a special treat in addition to the seafood decadent combination of fish and shellfish. Beside avoiding conversation and romantically gazing into each other's eyes, Oz and I never share the crab and salmon appetizer.
Francsican carries Hog's Island Oysters which are always fresh and delicious with a squirt of lemon, dab of horseradish and a thrust of tabasco.
The $5.95 cup of clam chowder is really thick with a heavy hand on the flour. The flavor is inconsistent - sometimes too salty or bland. Boudin's clam chowder located in the same lot is tastier and chunky filled.
One time the server misunderstood my order of the crab and smoked salmon crostini for the $9.75 Smoked Salmon Carpaccio. The dish is smoked salmon with avocado, onions and capers served with burrata, essentially the same appetizer as above without the Dungeness crab.
Franciscan's Dungeness crab is tossed in their "secret garlic sauce" which does not overpower the natural sweetness of the meat. The $34.95 whole Dungeness crab is guarantee to be at least 2 pounds, practically the same price as the sidewalk crab stand. There are days when I'm in the mood for steamed crabs from the sidewalk stands, crouching by the curb and spitting the shells onto newspapers- and days I feel like dining on a table.
Oz likes to dine at a Seafood restaurant and order...steak. He is a sure-win to order some sort of beef while I get the seafood. Franciscan has choices galore including sandwiches, pasta, seafood and meats. The $34.95 filet mignon, flash fried broccolini and mashed potatoes; the meat is super tender, almost in the same league as Harris' Steakhouse. The broccolini is bright green and crispy from the deep fryer but it would be nice if the vegetable was blotted before plating.
Below is the comparasion of the petite filet mignon at $24.95 also served with the same side dishes. The regular filet mignon is more tender and flavorful, I don't know if it has anything to do with the bone-in filet.
Another meat dish ordered by Oz is the $14.95 Grilled onion and Short Rib Cheese Sandwich, served with french fries and broccolini. The portion is generous, filled with a large amount of beef gripped together with cheese.
The servers are dressed in white jackets, older with a professional demeanor - typical style of the servers in the Wharf area. The bussers are more efficient and always around to fulfill any request quickly. There is no doubt we will return soon to Franciscan since the weather is getting warmer.
The 3 hour free parking validation enable us to have a grand ole time at the Musée Mécanique (located next door), the laughing fat lady still lifts up my spirits. The Musée Mécanique use to be located at the Cliff House when I was a child, I use to steal change from my parents and spend a few hours pinching pennies into the old time amusement machines.
Franciscan Crab Restaurant
Pier 43 1/2
San Francisco, CA 94133