Photography by Yuri Krasov
Fresh, organic, and sustainable is a well-known mantra of Northern California cuisine, but you don’t have to be a native to enjoy the culinary bounty of the Golden State. The best hotels open their doors to health-conscious chefs to treat guests to the best seasonal produce, sustainably caught seafood, and free-range meat and poultry. To top that, talented hotel chefs are proud to put their names on the menus they create with so much skill and appreciation for the finest locally sourced ingredients.
Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport is the best in class hotel in the San Francisco Bay Area, and for a good reason. Hyatt SFO offers value, ambience, and convenience that take stress out of travel. In addition to its unparalleled location in Burlingame next to the international airport, and relaxing accommodations, the hotel has an enviable food and beverage program.
Executive Chef Herbert Ng is known for his inspired dishes, like a rolled slice of duck breast over toasted couscous, caramelized butternut squash and port gastrique. Local Point Reyes blue cheese adorns arugula and frisee salad that also contains slices of pear, candied walnuts, and citrus vinaigrette. Heirloom tomato and avocado salad is topped with the freshest creamiest burrata enhanced by basil oil. And those are just appetizers. Impressive mains include pan seared sea bass with rock shrimp and black rice; cider brined chicken breast stuffed with mushrooms; and herb crusted beef tenderloin garnished with baby potatoes and red onion marmalade. Desserts follow suit. Chef’s chocolate mousse with roasted banana is presented like a piece of art, and tastes accordingly.
Hyatt SFO is also popular for its famous Sunday Champagne Brunch. Served in the spacious Swiftwater Cafe under the 7-story glass atrium roof, it includes all imaginable Bay Area culinary treasures – mussels, shrimp, sushi, smoked fish; antipasti and crudités with various dips; California cheeses and fruit; made-to-order omelets; more substantial fare with chicken, ham, beef, and sides, and of course, a lavish dessert table. This place leads a life of a busy restaurant on its own, serving local groups and family gatherings of people who might never plan to make those two miles to the airport.
The largest convention airport hotel in Northern California, Hyatt SFO accommodates groups up to 1,200; has 789 recently renovated guestrooms; boasts sweeping views of the airport runways, and offers a 24-hour shuttle service. Hyatt Regency SFO is located at 1333 Bayshore Highway, Burlingame, CA. For hotel and restaurant reservations and additional information call (650) 347-1234 or visit http://www.sanfranciscoairport.hyatt.com.
Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
From the Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar at the Monterey Plaza Hotel you can see brightly-dressed kayakers, playing dolphins and sea otters in the turquoise waters of Monterey Bay. Located in the oceanfront section of Monterey, known as Cannery Row and immortalized by John Steinbeck, this majestic hotel was built on a footprint of the historical cannery and occupies four and a half acres of land – almost an entire city block.
Wrapped in warm blankets provided by the restaurant’s attentive staff, Schooners’ patrons tend to linger on the patio, suspended over the water. The newly remodeled restaurant, lead by the Executive Chef James Waller, is known for its California-fresh contemporary American cuisine and sustainable seafood.
Local seasonal Dungeness is a star of the menu, but so is a troll-caught King salmon – pan seared and served on a bed of beans and shrimp in a wonderfully mildly-spiced Peruvian mole sauce. All desserts are made in house, and warm Schooners’ brownie with vanilla ice-cream and shaved dark chocolate is sure to warm anyone’s heart. A good-night sleep guaranteed in a hotel room where the only sound that comes through the open balcony door is the sound of waves splashing underneath. The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa has 290 deluxe guestrooms decorated with classic Biedermeier-style furniture and fabrics, and even equipped with sea binoculars. You can spend hours on your cozy balcony contemplating the Bay.
All the marine life can also be seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows from any table of the Schooners main dining room at breakfast. Some of the immensely popular breakfast treats here are California Crab Cake Benedict with grilled Portobello mushroom and Béarnaise sauce, and Cinnamon Blueberry French Toast with maple syrup and blueberry compote.
After breakfast, the nicest short walk along Cannery Row takes hotel guests to all the area attractions and activities, like bicycling, kayaking, sailing, whale watching, scuba diving in the protected marine sanctuary of Monterey Bay, and golf at 19 local championship courses. The world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is just three blocks away. Its enormous well-appointed space is dedicated to all forms of marine life on the ocean’s edge and at the open sea.
The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is located at 400 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA. For information and reservations call (831) 646-1700 or (800) 334-3999 or visit http://www.montereyplazahotel.com Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf Being a landmark hotel at the San Francisco’s historic Fisherman’s Wharf calls for high quality in just about everything. In addition to posh amenities, polished service, and gorgeous newly remodeled meeting space, Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf recently implemented a new “Seafood Watch” food program. The San Francisco Seafood Watch Alliance, which includes Aquarium of the Bay, the California Academy of Sciences and San Francisco Zoo, raises awareness of the sustainable seafood sourcing among individual consumers and food industry professionals. The Alliance provides regional support for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program designed to sustain diverse and healthy ocean ecosystems for future generations.
Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf is the only recognized hotel partner in this program thanks to the property’s commitment to sustaining the environment, both underwater and on the ground. The hotel encourages its guests to use the abundant city walkways, bicycle paths, and well-developed public transportation including cable cars, street cars, and pedi-cabs, and of course to make conscious choices about their food consumption.
Executive Chef Jason Lavinsky uses USA wild-caught Gulf shrimp for his crab-stuffed bacon-wrapped shrimp, and local Dungeness crab for his crab cakes served with frisee salad. Wild-caught striped bass gets a stamp of approval from the Seafood Watch Alliance. On the Hyatt guests’ plates it arrives, garnished with artichoke risotto and braised kale. The hotel puts other sensible choices on the menu to support sustainable initiatives. Pacific Albacore tuna, Pacific cod, calamari, Dungeness crab, Arctic char, halibut, Dover sole, and Mexican grouper all make for delicious seafood fare without the threat of overfishing.
On the menu at the hotel’s Knuckles at the Wharf restaurant these seafood choices are usually garnished with delectable sides, like pan roasted squash, chipotle mashed potatoes, or saffron risotto. And while desserts rarely have anything to do with seafood, they are well-worth mentioning, like an artful Vive La Tarte Trio that consists of miniature lemon meringue, chocolate mousse, and crème brulee. Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf is located at 555 North Point Street, San Francisco. For reservations and additional information call (415) 563-1234 or (800) 233-1234, or visit http://www.hyattatthewharf.com.