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McCormick & Kuleto's Seafood Restaurant

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
So my wife and I spent a romantic and fun weekend in San Francisco for her birthday (which is today). I made a point to take notes on all the places we ate... and I did this so I can share them here :) Here is the 1st of two reviews on finer restaurants in San Francisco. (It should be known up front, If there are two things San Francisco never has a shortage of, and that is fresh fish, and fresh bread.)

McCormick & Kuleto’s
San Francisco, CA

Average Cost per plate: $35-$50 (including 1 appetizer and 1 main course... this does NOT include wine or dessert)

McCormick & Kuleto’s is located in the heart of Ghirardelli Square and provides an excellent view of the San Francisco bay from any table you are seated at. The restaurant itself has very large bay windows that all face the San Francisco Bay and the table arrangement is setup in tiers to allow all guests to enjoy the view. The environment is elegant and provides for a very romantic meal.

The “Fresh List” of this restaurant is extensive and is made up of all fresh seafood delivered that day. (This includes many oyster varieties as well as crab and fish). As we were seated, we passed many tables and were able to view various dishes… It was obvious that there was much care put into preparing each dish served. (This is a restaurant that makes me wish I had 3-4 stomachs so I could experience more in one visit…)

The “On the Half Shell” portion of the menu contained 8 different varieties of oyster all coming from either Washington, California, or British Columbia. I personally enjoy well made oysters, but being on a “budget” to facilitate my upcoming culinary school, I had to pass.

The staff of this restaurant is attentive and thorough. The *only* noticeable shortfall I encountered was with the host who didn’t seem to be having a good day… He didn’t do anything specific to indicate this, but his lack of a smile and his “purely” professional (cold) attitude made that clear. Other than that, the experience was wonderful.

My wife ordered the “Pacific Mixed Grill” which included fresh Salmon, Halibut, Crab Cake, and mashed potatoes with a variety of three sauces (a berry, butter, and chipotle sauce). Let me say that the fish portions were extremely fresh, but very lightly (if at all) seasoned. I can only imagine that this is because the three sauces provided are intended to enhance the fresh fish flavor, but that is only speculation.

I ordered a cup of the house clam chowder which was absolutely delicious and obviously home made. For the main course I ordered the “Pacific Seafood Stew” which included fresh clams, mussels, shrimp, Dungeness crab, and calamari all stewed in a tomato/basil sauce. While I can attest to the freshness of each item in the dish, there was an unusual smell about the dish that I could not identify, and was not pleasant. I *do* realize that when dealing with seafood stews/cioppino’s you will get a variety of smells, this one seemed… disturbing, and I hate to say it, but almost like an ammonia/urine type smell. I do not know how else to describe this… Each piece of the dish seemed to taste as it should (and was very fresh), but that smell combination really didn’t help my palette. I didn’t send the dish back (despite the urging from my wife), but instead I sampled it objectively. Again, all ingredients were fresh; it’s just that the combination of spices/sauces used with it created an unpleasant smell.

This is a restaurant I intend to revisit to give a “Second Chance” as I believe they serve quality food. My wife enjoyed her meal, and it was obvious that the others around us enjoyed theirs… So I must believe that my experience was either 1) a fluke or 2) specific only to that particular dish.

I recommend this restaurant for anyone visiting the San Francisco Bay. The food quality is excellent, and the view is unbeatable. They have a VAST wine selection ranging from $20 to $240 per bottle. While this restaurant is primarily based in seafood, they do have a selection of finer steaks available.

I will be visiting this establishment again, and I will write another review on this.
post #2 of 3
Nice review Jason! My wife and I have been to S.F. several times and it's a great city! Love the food of course and we usually spend lots of time in China town checking out the fresh food markets (well I do, and it drives my wife crazy but she's a good sport). I had a really nice meal down on the pier (I know it's a tourist trap but it's fun to watch them cook the crabs!). Actually had my very first whole crab down there. Lots of work to eat the whole thing but fun and yummy!

I wonder what that smell actually was that you discribed? Did you ask your waiter? It was probably "specific only to that particular dish", as you stated. Well, glad to hear you had a nice time. Also, thanks again for all the information on brinning, very helpful. Gonna give it a try soon.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Steve, I didn't ask my waiter about it, mainly because I believe that with the mix of clams/mussels/shrimp/and crab that the dish may have been intended to smell this way... or not...

I believe the smell is attributed to the tomatoe base in combination with the clams and mussels... if you know clams/mussels, you know that you get the whole thing, clam meat, waste, and all... So in the spiced tomatoe base you stew in some clams and mussels, you could get a bit of a pungent smell from the clam/mussel waste simmering with the sauce. I am not positive about this, but in this case I think so. There were quite a few clams and mussels in the dish (I would say it was a little disproportionate to the other things... like shrimp)

As I mentioned before i will definitly go back to this restaurant and try another type of dish. (Did I mention the incredible view this restaurant has?)

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