Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dine About Town SF 2012 Launch Party

It's here! Dine About Town SF began this last weekend and I am so excited. Put on by San Francisco Travel organization Dine About Town gives diners the chance to try out over 100 different restaurants offering $17.95 2 course prix fixe lunches or $34.95 3/4 course prix fixe dinners from January 13- 31. This is a great marketing tool for restaurants of all shapes and sizes to get new clientele in the door. For the next two weeks I'll be fitting in as many trips up to the city as I can manage so I can report to you some of the great new places I try!

To Kick off the event the San Francisco Travel organization threw a tasting gala this last Thursday at the Metreon up in the city to give diners the chance to check out samples of what some of the participating restaurants had to offer as well as a few wineries and breweries giving tastes of their goods as well! The event was only $40 and all of the proceeds were donated to San Francisco's Meals on Wheels program which helps seniors live an in dependant life style by delivering meals to their homes.
When registering to attend the event the organizers had indicated clearly that you wanted to be there right at 6 when it began, as the vendors would have limited supplies, so I made sure to book it (as best one can in rush hour traffic on the 101) straight up to the city after work. The nice thing about the Metreon is that there is an ample parking garage right next door so I didn't have to waste time circling the surrounding blocks looking for a spot. As I approached the building I could tell a number of people walking near me were probably headed for the same event. I had anticipated the usual 20 - 30 something just -from-work crowd, what I didn't expect was the much broader demographic that was actually in attendance. The age range was probably closer to 20's- mid 60's and the dress was very casual to the more business attire. There was a guy there in a flannel and backwards baseball hat... with his mom. Although not what I expected it seemed promising that the over all Dine About Town experience was well and broadly marketed (as something like this needs to be to be successful).
 Upon entering each person received a logo glass for wine tasting and is set free in the long room to explore. As soon as I entered I was very impressed with the event space styling (some of which you can see above). The over head lighting was dimmed and highlighted with green and red up lighting on the pillars and walls. The table clothes were bright and festive and the hanging banners of some SF's most iconic scenes brought an artful touch to the room. The best part of the space however were the floor to ceiling windows along one length of the room that gave way to this view.

It was hard not to be initially overwhelmed by the options. The very first table to the right of the entrance had a long line which I stood in briefly but feeling the mounting hectic tension in the room decided not to waste my time waiting and instead move further down to a table that was less populated. By far the best move. This whole event felt like a speed sampling contest, how quickly could you make it to every booth before they began to run out! Could you sample everything before everyone else?? The answer unfortunately was no but I did remarkably well all things considered. There were plenty of options with no line and I got to try some fantastic things. I'm not going to go into depth on describing all the items but here are a few pictures:

 Reoccurring offerings of the evening were soups (hot and cold), anything with cauliflower not in it's natural form (I had a soup and a mouse with crab), and lots of pate's or meat mousse's.
Some had elaborate table set ups like these:
 Why yes that is a person half dressed as a mummy that they are serving off of. This was the Supperclub whose establishment includes entertainment with your meal.

An unexpected high light for me was the Basil Gimlet from Best Beverage Catering company (Full sized!) Finished with a spritz of Absinthe the cocktail had a nice initial aroma of sweet anise while the basil flavor blended delightfully with the sweet lime and vodka in the drink.

It was at about 6:45 that I noticed 2 booths had already packed up and in the next 15 minutes the rest of the restaurants quickly followed suit. I had managed to sample almost everything and decided to finally stand in that line at the front. They had not yet run out despite their popularity but I was certainly glad I didn't miss anything else waiting for them at the beginning. A heavy pasta dish lacking flavor may not have been the most exciting way to finish my night but I was not at all disappointed by everything else I had enjoyed. Would I attend this event again? In all honestly probably not although beautiful and fun it was so brief and the vibe so hectic that it was hard to enjoy the way I would have liked. However it boosted my excitement for the weeks to come as I make plans to enjoy many of the restaurants participating! This coming weekend - Butterfly on the Embarcadero for lunch Saturday, Luna Park in the Mission that night, and Luella in Russian Hill Sunday Dinner! I look forward to blogging all of these spots for you next week!

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