Advantages fresh food, good service.
Disadvantages very busy
|Value for Money|
|Standard of Menu|
|Standard of Service|
Scomas restaurant is perhaps San Francisco's signature seafood restaurant. Or that is how the guide book tells you. You can get just about any dining experience in Frisco, from any continent and any creed, much like the inhabitants this is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the US. So Scomas was the logical choice for our last diner in the USA, being labelled as Modern American cuisine, Scomas it was.Location
Located at the Golden Gate end of the Bay up from Fisherman Wharf Scomas enjoys somewhat of a backwater location, indeed it is hard to spot from the road except for the unobtrusive sign. You head up the boardwalk at pier 47 and there before you are a single story building that is perched on the pier.The Restaurant and Service
The only thing that really tells you you're at the right place are the sign outside, it could be any diner found along the bay area. So this could be both a good or bad sign.The good sign is the queue outside. Scomas does not operate a booking system, it does not have to, and unless you're A list you're going to have to wait. We were lucky in that the people ahead were in a large party and once they knew they had up to an hours wait they turned tail. We were offered about 20-30 minutes, so we were shown into the Bar.
Once you get an inside view you are somewhat reassured that this is the real Mc Coy. The interior being decorated to a standard you would expect from a restaurant of its reputation. Having said that it was like stepping onto the set of the "Rockford Files" 70's America being the style, whether by design or they had not re-decorated since then.It was about 3.30 in the afternoon and most restaurants would be calming down by now, but not so here. There was a buzz about the place, the staff whipped around in confident haste, they have their trade down to a fine art, and even the Barman noticing that we were down the last gulp was straight in with the offer of another.
After 15 minutes we were offered a table, dining in two's seems to be the thing here as out of the 100 or so covers three quaters were two seaters. We were lucky enough to get a window seat which is no great advantage as you face in shore a look back on the busy Al Scoma Way. The other side of the room offers no view at all except the Fish sheds where the boats drop their catches. But is nice to have some view anyway.No sooner were we seated our Waiter was with us. The showmanship so often accompanied with American waiters was there; this man in his late forties was a true pro. He was onto the English accent straight away. "You folks from England, right?" "How did you guess" "Hey, ya'll from London" "Near there, yes" "Yer, Rodger Daltry, he's from London, he was here, look there's his picture" He pointed to the whole far wall, which had hundreds of Photos of the Famous and Infamous who had dined here. "Bet Rodger didn't have to queue" "Well Sir if he came here he'd be sittin right with ya'll. Now what can I interest you two in?" We were treated to a 5 minute run through the menu, wine list and history lesson. We had the feeling this patter had been played out a million times before in this mans career, but he still managed to make it entertaining.
To start I had to have the Clam Chowder, which having only tried it once before was creamy and tasty.
The Menu and Meal
The menu is simple but varied, leaning slightly towards Italian influence. Most of the fish is familiar but there are some interesting things I had never seen. Pasta and Risottos feature heavily as well.
Main course I wanted to try as many different things as I could. I was recommended the Cioppino Alla Pescatore. This turned out to be a real Fruits De Mer style platter which could have feed 2 or even 4 people, containing Prawns, Shrimp, Scallops, Half a Dungeness crab and slices of Flat Fish. It was good, but did not blow me away. It lacks a certain something that is difficult to explain, maybe the presentation, or the way the vegetables and dressing were an after thought. But the shellfish was top quality, which after all what we were there for.Mrs Scenic had the Alaskan Halibut, which she enjoyed. The fish was melt in your mouth, but again the vegetables were bland and unexciting.
Our attentive waiter was quick in following up for deserts, but I was now in Seafood overload, and enthusiastic diners were queuing back down the wharf, so we took the bill and headed for the Bar again.The atmosphere is good in this restaurant, the tables a fairly tightly packed even by American standards. The service cannot be faulted. But you do feel a bit conveyer belted, as if you need to be in, feed and out, get the next cover in. It is a shame, but they are victims of their success, the food too seems to be mix and match, and you get the feeling that your dish is not individually crafted like some restaurants aim for.
The brothers Al and Joe Scoma bought Pier 47 back in 1965, and opened a diner for local fisherman serving breakfasts and burgers. From that humble beginning they went on to serve fish dishes when local people started to use it as well. From there they went on to build their world renowned restaurant. And as the walls of the restaurant show, most of the great and good have dined there.The Bill
So what would expect to pay for this kind of meal? Well one starter, two mains, a bottle of wine came to $130(£68). Good value for money?Conclusion
Well I have paid more and got less, but I must admit to being disappointed with this. Maybe my expectations were high. I was looking for a pier front restaurant with fantastic views of the Bay. There are many restaurants that have that in Frisco. Maybe I expected more from the food. We were entertained by the staff, but at the same time felt a little rushed and processed. Whatever it was we left feeling slightly deflated. As we walked back along the Bay I wondered what Roger would have made of his meal, I think he was probably sitting next to James Garner back in the 70's.Scoma's Restaurant Inc
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