The epicurean alchemists at Medallion Steakhouse start with organic produce, and grass- and corn-fed beef and chicken raised on local farms and transform them into fine, innovative dishes. Specialists tend the raw oyster bar, where guests sidle up to string necklaces of pearls from varieties such as Fanny Bay, Marin Miyagi, and Kumamoto oysters. With their appetites roused, diners then settle down into oversize booths padded with plush pillows to dig into farm-fresh entrees. Smells of sizzling 14-ounce grass-fed steaks and roasted chicken breasts from Petaluma Farms swirl through the air between the restaurant’s exposed-brick wall hung with red-and-white-framed mirrors. A wall of white birch tree trunks and soft sounds of a waterfall's trickle keep diners comforted as they linger for a forkful of hazelnut dark-chocolate mousse and sips of spirits such as a 20-year-old tawny port and Godiva white-chocolate liqueur.
Johnny Cherry, the proven barbecue king, seasons the fare at Frank's BBQ and Seafood with his own special blend of herbs and spices, earning himself and the eatery a first-place finish in the Black Cuisine of San Francisco competition for 10 years running. He cooks up pork and beef ribs, sliced beef brisket, and chicken wings, all available in a variety of combos with sides such as potato salad and hush puppies. Not to be outdone, seafood dishes such as red snapper, catfish, and fish burgers sidle up beside the barbecue fare.
Margie—Frank's BBQ and Seafood's resident soul-fare specialist and fellow Black Cuisine of San Francisco first-prize winner—drops by every Thursday and Friday to whip up her down-home cuisine. Made from her grandmother's Alabama recipes, her entrees include smothered turkey wings, meatloaf, and oxtail, prepared with comfort-fare sides such as string beans and candied yams in the shape of a La-Z-Boy. On request, she can also craft homemade desserts such as cakes, peach cobbler, banana pudding, and pies. Frank's BBQ and Seafood and Margie's soul fare are also available for catering for any event.
Located firmly within San Francisco's Castro district, 2362 Market Street is steeped in city history. Here, Catch makes its mark in a storefront registered as an official city landmark that originally housed the burgeoning NAMES Project, which famously organized the creation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The history remains with the building, but Catch aims to create a new legacy while honoring the spirit of creativity and expression rooted in its surroundings.
To foster this spirit, the chefs rotate their menus regularly, accommodating seasonal produce and fresh catches of local, sustainably sourced seafood. Each dish showcases these ingredients while incorporating Mediterranean influences and minimalist Californian sensibilities toward composition and presentation. A hearty bowl of mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops, crab, and fresh fish in a tomato broth evokes the flavors of portuguese stew, and the pizzas emerge with inspired toppings, such as smoked salmon and crème fraîche.
The air of refined simplicity also extends to the dining room's decor. Cherry-wood tables line the tiled floors and surround the small, circular fireplace that helps heat the enclosed patio section. Two works of vibrantly colored wall art originals add a taste of whimsy to the space, as does the balcony-like stage that sits suspended 10 feet above the ground, dominating an entire corner of the room. A full piano resides on the stage, beckoning the live jazz bands that perform on Fridays and Saturdays for diners and brave souls who would like to make their seafood meals feel at home by playing sea shanties of yore.
The culinary team at Craw Station lures lovers of fresh seafood and shellfish with its simple, no-nonsense menu of dungeness crab, shrimp, clams, and crawfish, serenading palates with the help of zesty lemon butter, garlic, and Cajun-style seasonings. After revving up their appetites with fried calamari or oysters on the half shell, guests choose a tasty crustacean or gastropod for a main course that chefs can prepare in levels of spiciness ranging from non-spicy to Dynamite, which generates sweat faster than a bicycle-powered lie-detector machine. Sides of sweet-potato fries, corn, and gumbo wingman entrees, and sips of wine and frosty draft beer ensure that bites go down smooth.