SF’s Town Hall: More than Just a 1907 Shell

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The Town Hall Restaurant has always been a safe recommendation bet for as long as I’ve lived in San Francisco and yet I don’t find myself dining there very often. The food is great but it doesn’t blow me away and the service sometimes tries just a little too hard.For example, our waitress continuously filled the wine glasses, topping off the fullest glasses first, a tactic that is obviously designed to finish off the bottle sooner rather than later to encourage ordering more. This particular waitress didn’t have a good sense of ‘pacing’ despite being friendly and knowledgeable.

That said, the main course and appetizer combos are inspiring and the menu includes some southern ‘comfort food’ favorites as well. And of course, both the exterior and interior of the 1907 building has a ton of charm, including its more traditional bar, which I’d like to return to for some more of those fried oysters.

The full bodied cabs are largely Californian style from Napa Valley and included the likes of the 2007 Chappellet Napa Valley Mountain Cuvee, the 2006 Freemark Abbey Rutherford Bosche Estate, the Freemark Abbey Sycamore (1994 and 1997), the Hewitt Vineyard Rutherford Estate (’06), the Lokoya Mount Veeder Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend (also ’06), and the over-the-top but yummy Opus One from Oakville (2006 Bordeaux Blend), priced at $327 a bottle.

From the diver scallop ceviche & hearts of palm with Thai basil, crispy shallots and lime and the Salad of Dungeness Crab with Nicoise Olivers, meyer lemon and crisp artichoke hearts to the creamy soups, fried chicken and duck, it’s all worth a sample.

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My favorite? The cornmeal fried oysters with herbsaint spinach puree, served with Hobbs Bacon and preserved lemon.

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