Gibson Delivers Innovative Cuisine In Glam Setting

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The dining room at Gibson
The dining room at Gibson

Photo Credit: Alison Christiana

The busy corner of Powell and Mason Streets in downtown San Francisco is a location that most locals avoid. It’s steps away from the Bart station and the Westfield Centre meaning its ground zero for homeless and tourists. It’s also the site of a gorgeous new restuarant serving innovative and delicious cuisine. Walk into Gibson and the hustle and the bustle of the outside world immediately melts away as you’re transported to another era. Time slows and as you take it all in—the gilded peacock metalwork, the black marble bar, the globe sconces, the teal leather banquettes—you can’t help but wonder if a jazz band and women dressed in drop-waist sequin dresses will suddenly appear.

The bar
The bar

Photo Credit: Alison Christiana

Gibson has an old-school glamour reminiscent of the 1920s. The decor is classic art deco with sumptuous and eye-catching details that dazzle and delight. The floor in the bar is covered in a blue and white geometric print tile, the ceiling is textured silver squares. A Michelangelo-style mural covers part of the ceiling in the dining room. Gibson is a hotel restaurant, it’s at the Hotel Bijou, so there are guests in casual clothing, but it’s really the sort of place where one should dress to impress. Order an icy cold martini or the eatery’s namesake cocktail, a Gibson, and you’ll quickly be enjoying a perfectly balanced potent libation.

Chef Robin Song
Chef Robin Song

Photo Credit: Alison Christiana

Once you’re settled into a cozy section of the banquette, the real fun begins as enticing smoky aromas waft from chef Robin Song’s open kitchen. Song serves expertly executed wood-fired cuisine that’s thoughtful and tasty. You can order off of the menu, which is filled with items that are meant to be shared—there’s a ‘breaking bread’ section in which the housemade sourdough comes warm and fresh from the oven with dip or spread of your choice. Some options include house cultured butter, duck liver mousse, or curried currant and cauliflower. Song also offers an affordable tasting menu of his greatest hits.

Bone marrow flan with uni
Bone marrow flan with uni

Photo Credit: Alison Christiana

For $65, the ten-course meal is a steal. Bite-sized cucumber cups are slightly charred and stuffed with a creamy whipped uni. It’s a superb amuse-bouche that is light, crisp, and mouth-eating at the same time. Neither the uni or the cucumber over powers one another, but they each shine together in harmony. The bone marrow flan is a warm, nourishing, and comforting dish. It’s presented in a custom-made oversized white ceramic half shell. The texture is silky and the generous dollop of uni and fragrant dashi broth, the ideal accompaniment to the rich flan.

A spread of Song's fantastic food
A spread of Song’s fantastic food

Photo Credit: Alison Christiana

If these dishes show Song’s serious prowess as a chef, the caviar course is a testament to his playful side. A tiny jar of the Caviar Company’s black caviar is served with a variety of accoutrements—a perfect square chicken nugget, a flat rectangular fried potato cake, and tangy creme fraiche herb sauce. It also comes with a smoked egg yolk that’s tastes so wonderful with the caviar it’s hard to have it with any of the other items, which are scrumptious in their own right.

Potent cocktails
Potent cocktails

Other standouts include the slow-roasted beef, slices of steak that are so tender they almost resemble the consistency of short ribs, Song’s take on clam chowder, a mashed potato cake in a glorious consume topped with a couple of chopped clams, and the smoky brassicas, a vegetable dish that is complex and hearty. With friendly service, creative desserts (black sesame butter cookies!), and a separate bar menu that includes a burger, Gibson is a dining destination, albeit in a touristy location, that’s worth visiting again and again.

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