Sutro’s at the Cliff House: Check, Please! Bay Area Review


(upbeat music) – But first, public
relations guru David Landis, wines and dines with his
clients all around the city. But his personal favorite is
also one of the most iconic. From playful seals to stunning
sunsets, his spot has it all. A sight brimming with
San Francisco history, it’s Sutro’s at the Cliff House. (jazz music) – We pretend that we don’t have a view. That we have to be successful
on the quality of the food, the service, and the ambience. The fact that you get
the view on top of this should be an added bonus. My name is Ralph Burgin, I work at Sutro’s at the Cliff House in San Francisco. The first Cliff House was built in 1863, and it burned down in 1907. Was rebuilt by Emma Sutro in 1909, and then a major renovation that restored the original part over on the Bistro side and opened up this part
here called Sutro’s. – [Chef] Hot salmon ready! – There’s three generations
of my family here. My in-laws who are the
owners, they have been here for about 45 years. I’ve only been here for about
20 years, and my son joined the company about five years ago. (jazz music) We’ve had couples here that
have their first date here. I remember one instance that
this couple came back 17 years later, to celebrate their anniversary. And for them, we recreated
the menu from that time and we charged the same prices for it too. We are partners with the
National Park Service, we are part of the Golden
Gate National Recreation area, and as such, we have common
goals like preserving the area, the environment, and
sustainability is important to us. It makes me feel really good to know that I try to contribute
to keep this the way it is. (jazz music) – Alright David, this
place is truly a landmark in San Francisco. – It is, Sutro’s at the
Cliff House has been around forever, and it has one of the – – About 1863, so that’s
a pretty long time. – Oh my gosh, so its one
of the oldest restaurants, probably in the country. And I think that the food
really matches the view, which is not typical
for a view restaurant. The fish is fresh, even
the chef brings in produce that he gardens up in the wine country. – Chef Ralph actually grows tomatoes. – Yes, we had some of
those in the summertime. But we went out there, it was
at night and I would suggest going at sunset so you can
have the benefit of the view. But we went and we started
with the Caribbean passion, a personal favorite of mine. I love rum drinks, and here’s a tip. On Tuesdays, they have
half-price wine bottles. – [Leslie] Oh yes, they do! – So if you go on a Tuesday,
you get a $60 bottle of wine for $30, which is what we did. We started with the foie gras terrine, and it was like a piece
of artwork on the plate. It was creamy, it was
delicious, it was so tasty. I know a lot of people
don’t eat foie gras, but I do and it was great.
– [Ladies] Me too! – [David] Yeah, okay, good.
(laughter) And then my husband had the
White Gulf shrimp tempura, which was phenomenal, in kind of a Vietnamese
vinegarette dressing. It just had the right
amount of heat and spice, and it was really, really delicious. – We started with the crab
cakes, and they were really good because so many places put a lot of filler into the crab cakes, but
once you cut into them, you can just tell it was
just pure Dungeness crab, which was great. They were really small, which sucks ’cause you want way more,
but they had a real crunchy – – You can always order another one! – We almost did, we almost
did, but it had a real crunchy Panko breading so they, like, fried ’em ’til they were real brown and golden and kind of had a jaggedy,
crispy edges on the outside. There was an aioli on the
top, but there wasn’t enough, it could’ve been a lot more
acidic cause, you know, the crab needs to kind of be brightened
up ’cause its real sweet and it can be kind of rich. – I also had the crab cakes, which I thought were really good, but I never really get
crab cakes so my bar is, there is no bar. (laughter) – But you just set the bar now. – I set the bar. – [Leslie] What did you like about them? – Even though they were small, they were substantial, and
the breading was really good. They were very tender. And then we also got the
lox dish, which you know, I’m from New York, my ideas
of lox are pretty Jewish, and this was a very thinly sliced smoked salmon creme fraiche. Very light, very insubstantial, so I don’t think it really paired with the crab cakes very well. – [Leslie] They do smoke
their own salmon there. – Hmm.
– Wow. – [Leslie] Yeah, it takes
four days for Chef Ralph to smoke salmon.
– My mother would be proud. (laughter) – My mother would say, too expensive. (laughter) – Okay. – [Leslie] Alright,
lets go to main course. – [David] For the main
course, one of the things that I loved there, it’s a
bacon encrusted Scottish salmon. – Yep, mm. – [David] Did you have that too? – [Illyanaa] I did. – So, the salmon was cooked
perfectly, medium rare. It was fresh, fresh, fresh. They were serving it with some
kind of spinach or something, and I said, ya know,
I’m not fond of spinach, can I have the broccolini? No problem, I like a restaurant
that allows substitutions, I think that’s important. Then my husband had the
pistachio crusted pork chop, which was so great! – Ah, that pork chop. – It was a little treif, but
it was good, it was so good! – Illyanna’s over there going yeah. – They should just rename
Sutro’s the Pork Chop House. – [David] Isn’t it amazing? – That pork chop, I’m still
dreaming about that pork chop. I went with two other friends,
and one ordered the steak and one ordered the pork chop,
and I ordered the salmon. But, ya know, we all took bites
off of each other’s plates, and I took a bite of her pork chop and I almost ordered another pork chop. (laughter) I don’t want to be this person, but I need to have this pork
chop again in my life soon. – See, this is when you do
the trick, oh look over there! (laughter) – It was big, but it was so
savory and they had the crust of it outside but it was
perfectly pink on the inside. – [David] It was moist! – So, I went with my
husband and two friends and we all shared a variety of things. So we shared the risotto, the
sole, the bacon crusted salmon and then the steak. – [Leslie] Okay.
– Of all of those things, I thought that the sole was the best, as far as seafood freshness,
it had a very crispy layer on the outside, and someone
came over to our table and, like, very impressively,
like a magician, de-boned it in one powerful swoop. It was really lemony, and
the lemon flavor permeated, the vegetables that were on the side too, and the flavor just very like, refreshing. And then the steak was
totally, it was totally, fine. It was a nice, fancy steak. The bacon crusted salmon,
I think my expectations were too high, and it was on top of a bed of mashed potatoes, which I thought was kind of,
like, any restaurant, anywhere. – Oh come on, I always
love those mashed potatoes. (laughter)
– [Molly] I mean, I mean – – Mind you, the plate was empty, right? – I am only human, I
love potatoes, but to me, for that level, for the
level of showmanship that I expected from Sutro’s. – You wanted something different. – A little more elevated, yeah. – [Leslie] Okay, and what about the salad? – We ordered the Caesar’s Salad. I love when they serve Caesar’s Salad it’s like, the whole leaf. So its like real long and
elegant, its not chopped up and everybody’s muddling around to try to scape it onto their plate. Many of us, we just picked it
up with our hands and put it on our plate, but it had — – I like you, I want to
go out to eat with you. – One of our friends is keto,
so she asked for the croutons to be put on the side, and
they totally did that for us, and then they grated the
Parmesan cheese on top, but the cheese was so fine, it looked like little snowflakes on top and it was just savory and grassy and you felt like you were eating healthy, but you know that you’re not. (laughter) It was delicious! – That’s one of the best
descriptions of a Caesar’s Salad I’ve ever heard. (laughter) – Cause no one serves Caesar’s Salad in a whole leaf lettuce like that. – [David] Yeah. – [Leslie] So lets talk
about what you had to drink with your meal. Their wine list is
actually very well priced. – [David] It’s incredible! – [Leslie] You can get a bottle of really nice wine under $30. – Right.
– A bottle. So there are well priced
and then you have half-price on Tuesday nights, so
you can go have a bottle of Opus One with lunch. (laughter) – One of the things that really bugs me is when you go to a San
Francisco restaurant and all the bottles of
wine are more than $100. – [Leslie] Yeah come on. – Its just like, please, we’re
right here in wine country, and the thing about Sutro’s
is it’s all California wines. – [Leslie] It’s all California wines. – [David] It’s really curated well, we had the Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc, and I think it’s a delicious wine. – [Molly] I ordered dessert,
because, I feel like, – [Leslie] You have to! – I have to, I’m on PBS,
I gotta get dessert. (laughter) – Otherwise, I can’t say,
and how were those desserts? (laughter) – So, we had the passion
fruit creme brulee, which was a mash-up of ingredients, it was a shortbread and
then also tapioca balls like almost boba-esque. And I think to me, it kind
of epitomized some aspects of the menu that were
confusing to me, which was, ya know, citrus seemed to be like seafood, but then with asian flair,
sometimes, but not all the time. But with that being said,
I think I might’ve enjoyed the dessert more than anything
because I really liked the strange juxtaposition
of textures and flavors. – [David] We had their
butterscotch pot de creme, which is real butterscotch
and the server explained, its made with single malt scotch. – [All] Mm nice. – It’s the original
recipe, it had orange zest. You must have the
butterscotch pot de creme if you go to Sutro’s,
so delicious, so rich. You can diet the next day. (laughter) – [Leslie] This place is
a destination for folks. What did you think about the service? – [Illyanna] The service was great, they were efficient
without being intrusive. – [Leslie] And what about price? – [David] For a night out on the town, I think in San Francisco these
days, that’s kind of a deal. So I think Sutro’s is a
fine dining experience. – Though Molly was over there going — – No way, no way, I felt
like my wallet turned to sand after the meal, like, it
was, I went with teachers and I felt guilty for
inviting my teacher friends. – I’m not saying its not expensive, I’m saying that’s about the average price. – No way try a different restaurant. – Don’t you think it was a good value? – No. (laughter) No, because, when we got
there, it was already dark, so we weren’t able to see anything. – [Leslie] It really is
something spectacular when you have the view. – [Molly] For brunch, it
would be a much better value. – And they do champagne brunch. – Yeah, yeah, yeah, I
imagine the brunch value is much better, but for
dinner, there was no view. – Alright David, your
spot, wrap it up for us. – So Sutro’s is where the food
actually matches the view. – And Molly? – For brunch, with a wealthy
benefactor, try Sutro’s. (laughter) – Alright then, Illyanna? – Um, if you want to be reminded
that classic is timeless, visit Sutro’s. – Alright, if you would
like to try Sutro’s at the Cliff House, its
on Point Lobos Avenue at the Great Highway in San Francisco. The telephone number is 415-386-3330. Its open for lunch and dinner everyday, reservations are recommended. And the average dinner tab per person without drinks is around $60. – [Narrator] Check please! Bay Area is made possible by the
members of KQED, and by (upbeat music) Oakland International Airport, now with flights all over the world. IFlyOak.com IRG has thousands of
surfaces in stock now. Surfaces, selection, service. IRG at marblecompany.com Total Wine and More offering
more than 8,000 wines, 2,500 beers, and 3,000 spirits. Total Wine and More, now with
eight Bay Area locations. TotalWine.com Sutter Health CPMC
announcing its newly opened Mission Bernal Hospital,
with all private rooms and comprehensive labor
and delivery services. Sutterhealth.org/missionbernal – [Announcer] Redwood Credit Union, community banking for the
North Bay and San Francisco. Business and personal
banking, online and mobile, plus nationwide ATMs. Banking for people who
call this place home.

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