Lauren G. Discovers a Hidden Gem in Nob Hill
I’ve lived in Lower Nob Hill (or the Tenderloin, depending on who you ask) for almost two years, so I was surprised that I wasn’t previously aware of KEIKO à Nob Hill: an intimate and elegant restaurant, newly anointed with its first Michelin star. Turning thirty is as good a reason as any to splurge on a fancy meal – especially one that’s practically in my backyard (if I had one) – so I decided to try it out.
Located on the ground level of an apartment building at the top of Nob Hill, I must have walked by this place a dozen times without noticing it. Once inside, it had the feel of a small, exclusive club with a reserved, Old World ambiance. After a few tasty bites, the nine-course French/Japanese tasting menu began with a delicate uni and cauliflower dish, which I loved. The A5 Wagyu beef with Iberico ham foam was my husband’s favorite. The best dish of the meal, however, was dessert: a play on white chocolate cake with “essence of raspberry” served in a tiny glass with a delicate spout for sipping. Raspberries are my all-time favorite fruit, and it did not disappoint. It was not a reduction, not a sauce, not a coulis – just raspberries in liquid form. I forgot my table manners and slurped it all down.
As wonderful as the food was, the wine pairing stole the show. Seven wines and one sake were served, and each time the sommelier reappeared I was giddy with excitement for what he’d bring next. All were delicious, but my one of my favorites was the sommelier’s own Cabernet Sauvignon, produced in St. Helena during his time as a winemaker, with the bottle designed by Mary GrandPré–illustrator for the Harry Potter books. Another favorite was a 1988 port–the year I was born.
KEIKO à Nob Hill is definitely a special occasion restaurant, but one that’s well worth the price. It also taught me an important lesson–always, always do the wine pairing.