Ok, full disclosure: I love Tyler Florence. There’s something about a man (especially a cute one) who loves to cook and when Tyler Florence cooks you can see how much he enjoys it. But those aren’t the only reasons I wanted to visit his Wayfare Tavern restaurant in San Francisco. How could I not check it out? After all, I follow Tyler Florence on twitter and he constantly re-tweets customers’ rave reviews of his restaurant. So as soon as I returned to San Francisco Wayfare Tavern was at the top of my must-see list. When I attempted to make a Thursday lunch reservation I realized just how popular Tyler’s  (May I call him Tyler?) restaurant is: the only thing I could get was a 2:45 pm slot.

Wayfare Tavern is located in downtown San Francisco, near the Embarcadero. It has a classic American pub look (though shiny and new) with rich dark wood throughout. It felt homey and comfortable. The staff was immediately likable and friendly (I hate when restaurant staff act snotty, like they’re doing you a favor by allowing you to eat in their establishment). We were seated upstairs and immediately tended to by the waitress. She brought us the most delicious-looking popovers. I had seen a recipe for these in Tyler’s latest book: Tyler Florence Family Meal so I was excited to try one. These popovers were huge but light. Buttery and flaky on the outside and filled with air. When you break one open you see the crust is more of a shell. They were so good that my friend Ani gobbled hers up before our food came and the waitress asked if she wanted another one.

I could go back again and again just for the popovers...

The menu changes often, which is another plus for me. We ordered the ricotta dumplings served with collard greens, foraged mushrooms, mushroom puree, grated smoked pumpkin, chives and Parmesan. Doesn’t that sound amazing? It was! My only complaint is that I wished it had been served hotter (it was lukewarm). I just love trying dishes that are inventive and combine ingredients I don’t think I could ever come up with on my own. This was definitely one of those dishes. It was mushroom-y and creamy and just so, so good.

After dinner we decided to have dessert (why not?). We ordered the sticky toffee pudding with roasted pears and black pepper ice cream. When the dessert was brought out to us I realized I’d never had a sticky toffee pudding before because I didn’t know it looks like a little cake. The cake was made with dates and the pears had crumbled toffee on top. Though the ice cream was black pepper flavored it really tasted more like vanilla bean ice cream and was nice and mild which was good since the pudding and the pears had so much flavor.

The whole experience, from the design of the restaurant to the service to the quality of the food was top-notch. For the two of us, we spent about $100 total which included two entrees, one dessert, french fries (totally unnecessary to order but they were good) and two glasses of wine. That also included the tip (and we tipped nicely). I would definitely recommend Wayfare Tavern to anyone who appreciates not only delicious food but the experience of dining out.

The details:

Wayfare Tavern

558 Sacramento Street, SF