Lunch at Waterbar, San Francisco

Exterior of Waterbar
Gorgeous view from the table Looking toward the back from the bar Open kitchen
At the bar The oyster bar
Exterior, interiors, open kitchen, view of bar, close up of the oyster bar, and the menu

A relative hidden gem to have a calm, delicious, seafood lunch near Ferry Building Marketplace is Waterbar Restaurant. It’s about a half mile walk from tourist central.

The Waterbar is a sprawling, two-level restaurant with exposed brick walls, lots of natural light flooding in from the windows, and two floor-to-ceiling fish tank columns. At the bar, features the day’s catch of various oysters. There’s even an outdoor patio to soak in some sun and a spectacular view of the Oakland Bay Bridge.

Crisp Softshell Crab & Grilled Calamari
Yellowtail Jack Ceviche Grilled Calamari
Crisp Softshell Crab, Yellowtail Jack Ceviche & Grilled Calamari

The menu offers a wide selection of market-driven, sustainable seafood. For example we started with the Yellowtail jack ceviche ($13) was hook & line caught out of northern Baja, California. The small scoops of ceviche were sitting on a wide stripe of avocado-tomatillo salsa, layered in between crisp plantains, and a touch of sour orange. A lovely, refreshing starter.

We progressed with the crisp softshell crab ($19) plated with guacamole, grape salsa, crisp tortillas. The crab was delicately crisp from frying yet very juicy and delicious. The creamy guacamole and sweet grape salsa gently enhanced the crab’s sweetness. The grilled calamari ($16) with black eye peas, fried green tomatoes, and creole remoulade was a nod to the American South. Tender tendrils of calamari with the lovely fried green tomato and a mildly spicy remoulade.

Table full of 6 desserts for my family
Chocolate ice cream sandwich Coconut-Raspberry Sorbet
Bittersweet Chocolate Marquise Meyer Lemon Soufflé Cake
Strawberry Pavolva
The dessert spread

You must save room for desserts. Pastry chef Emily Luchetti is a decorated and revered chef. She is James Beard Pastry Chef of the Year (2004) and one of the deans of the International Culinary Center. She’s also a very sweet person, if you ever meet her.

Anyway, we were bestowed with an entire table full of desserts. Six of them, which accounts to almost the entire dessert menu.

The chocolate ice cream sandwich ($7) filled with vanilla fudge marble ice cream, and cocoa nibs will make every kid and adult happy. It’s not too sweet, the flavors are balanced, and I love the moist, not too chewy cookie. Still sticking with the frozen treats, the three scoops of coconut-raspberry Sorbet ($10) sprinkled with toasted, candied coconut, drizzled in mint syrup was refreshing and light.

The decadent bittersweet chocolate marquise ($10) pistachio nougat glace, cherry coulis made me think of spring, especially with the flavors of pistachio and sweet-tart cherry with the creamy, bittersweet chocolate to bring it all together.

The Meyer lemon soufflé cake ($10) topped with a quenelle of crème chantilly with a side of two buttery, crisp, candied thyme shortbreads were wonderful.

The strawberry Pavolva ($10) was composed of two disks of baked meringue stuffed with a scoop of creamy, vanilla bean ice cream, sitting on a pool of basil anglaise. It resonated late spring at every bite and the varied textures of creamy, silky, and crunchy made it undeniably delicious.

The buttermilk panna cotta ($10) with rhubarb compote and topped with a ginger tuile was a unanimous favorite on our table. The über creamy, supple yet tart panna cotta takes you to pleasant shocks of tartness as you’d eat through. The rhubarb compote provided some wonderful sweetness but it still have retained its natural tartness and the ginger tuile provided a delicate spicy crispness.

To view more of my photos of this meal and the restaurant, please scroll through the slideshow below (or click through my Flickr set):

[tylr-slidr userID=”hellokitty893112″ groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/hellokitty893112/sets/72157630099087594/[/tylr-slidr]


Website: http://www.waterbarsf.com
399 The Embarcadero South (between Folsom & Harrison St)
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: 415-284-9922
District: SOMA/Rincon Hill


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.