Campton Place Restaurant, San Francisco 2

April 12, 2016

The Indian-owned Taj Campton Place Hotel is near the north-east corner of Union Square in San Francisco. Its restaurant, which has had a Michelin star since 2011, received a second star in October 2015. Succeeding Daniel Humm, who moved on to Eleven Madison Park, its chef since February 2008 has been Srijith Gopinathan. He cooked beside his grandmother while growing up in Kerala in Southern India. He began his career at luxury hotels in India, studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, a famous two-Michelin star restaurant in England, where he added European techniques to his repertoire. Linda and I were staying at the hotel and went for dinner on February 23, 2016.

We were seated along the edge of the quiet, understated dining room. It did not fill up that evening.
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In a minute, the Champagne cart was wheeled up to our table.
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Here the sommelier is showing us the Champagne Rosé selection, Champagne Diebolt-Vallois Cuvée Rosé. There was also a bottle of Dom Perignon and our selection for a glass, Champagne Henriot Brut. (No California sparklers here.)

There was a three-course menu offered with ample selections in each course. There was a Vegetarian Tasting Menu and, our choice, the “Spice Route Menu: Chef Sri’s unique take on Californian cuisine using his Southern Indian heritage and fresh, seasonal ingredients from Northern California.”

We skipped the offered wine pairings and, with the help of the sommelier, we ordered a bottle of 2012 Papapietro Perry “Peter’s Vineyard” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. This was a nice pinot and complemented the cuisine.

There were several delicious appetizers offered before the listed menu courses. (They did not have printed titles, so I have written what is the best of our recollection.)

A Kumamoto oyster with salmon roe and parsley juice.
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A Paratha with crispy kale coated with chickpea batter. (A paratha is different from a naan in that it is unleavened and cooked stuffed.)
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A pastry puff filled with eggplant and yoghurt.
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Deep-fried  rice rectangles with lentils.
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Guinea hen was mentioned, but I do not remember how it fit in or anything else about what this was.
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These dishes were all delicious. A common element, after the oyster, was mild, aromatic Indian spicing designed for each dish that just lingered beautifully in the background.

Then the menu proper started.
Brassicas
Tandoori Cauliflower, Saffron Shorva and Pineapple Relish
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The cauliflower chunks had been tandoori-spiced and roasted. They were garnished with pickled pineapple shards and greens. Underneath was a saffron-laced vegetable broth. The spice flavors were the point of this dish. Very good.

A substitution was suggested for Linda as the tandoori spices were a bit too spicy for her. She had
Autumn Vegetables
Grains, Roots, Blossom, Sorrel Snow and Cucumber Broth
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A light, refreshing salad topped with petals.

Maine Lobster
Roasted Lentil Chutney, Nasturtium Leaves and Turmeric Whey
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The luscious butter poached lobster chunks were nicely enhanced by the exotic, mild garnishes.

Black Cod
Green Garlic, Tomato Kootu, Black Rice and Curry Leaves
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The chunk of cod had been topped with puffed black rice, which added crunch to the soft cod. Underneath were three sauces, including a tamed South Indian tomato based one.

We needed a palate cleanser at this point and asked for naan, which was happily provided hot from the oven.
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Slow-Cooked Lamb Rack
Basmati Rice, Biriyani Spices and spiced Yoghurt Broth
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The chop was from a lamb rack which had been coated with a coarse spice mix before being roasted nicely rare. The rice ring, the pepper mound and the yoghurt underneath were all just right with it.

Pineapple
Roasted Coconut and Mint
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 The pineapple ice cream was enhanced by the coconut shards and milk.

Dark Chocolate
Candied Kumquat, Mandarin Ice and Lemon Grass
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The chocolate bar was very dark and rich. The kumquat on top went well, as did the Mandarin sorbet.

As Linda avoids dark chocolate in the evening, she asked for
Pear
Meyer Lemon, Kataifi and Pistachio
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The pear sorbet was covered with a sphere of shredded phylo dough, which provided a nice crunchy contrast.

The excellent mignardises were coconut spheres, caramel and chocolate.
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Our meal was excellent. The flavors were exquisite and quite different from those to which we are accustomed. The chef obviously has unusual talent, training and dedication. The second Michelin star is surely well deserved.

http://www.camptonplacesf.com

To see our short blogpost on our lunch at Campton Place eight years ago click here.

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