If you’re looking to have a sublime meal underneath a climate-controlled forest canopy, look no further than Terrene at 1 Hotel in SF’s Embarcadero.
The fourth Thursday in November has sat with an evergreen appeal and nostalgic lure for me, especially after leaving Texas nearly a decade ago. It’s a day brimming with sensory memories.
The smell of caramelized sugar atop an apple crisp permeating out of the kitchen in Austin; the sight of crumpled tin foil pulled over rectangular serving dishes refracting the incandescent light above; sounds of laughter and convivial conversation, punctuated by clanks of colliding glassware. It’s a day brimming with orchestras of sensations that are rich for memory-making.
Alas, since living in San Francisco, the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving day with my nuclear family hasn’t presented itself — for better or worse. (The occasional eruption of a heated debate with my relatives over political ideologies and the general state of the world doesn’t say, come to the forefront in the company of me, myself, and I, or with like-minded kin.) Through that very situation, the holiday has now morphed into a celebration of gratitude among friends
Some newly met. Others are known for years. All of whom I’m happy to break gluten-free bread with.
For this year in particular, that platonic multi-plate meal was had with a friend of nearly nine years at Terrene — the “locally-inspired” San Francisco restaurant tucked inside the five-start, self-described sustainable 1 Hotel in the Embarcadero.
Being guided to your seat at the eatery is an exercise in urban jungle exploration. For those of us with affectionate memories of the Rainforest Cafe, Terrene exudes a far more upscale experience of tracing vines along the ceiling with your eyes; animatronic fauna is replaced with natural woods and sumptuous light fixtures that emit a soft, yellow glow.
The five-course meal menu in front of us was paced at a digestible pace. Our meal began with a chestnut gallate, finished with an herbs course chopped on top of and around the warm pastry. It with equal parts relief and substance; the savory filling was only enhanced by butter pastry.
Once our plates had been thoroughly cleaned, what I can only describe as one of the best seasonal hot soups I’ve ever consumed was placed in front of us. Its hints of black truffle were unmistakable but never overwhelming.
Not halfway through your meal, it was clear Executive Chef Scott Koranda’s prowess was on full display. Scott, who’s worked in the industry for over twenty years, oversees all daily operations of the restaurant and is the driving force of the vision behind Terrene. Scott, too, is responsible for the eatery’s keen focus on ingredients, most of which are sourced within 100 miles of San Francisco. (His culinary background is founded on the very notions and appreciation he sowed during his upbringing in Iowa’s agricultural backbone.)
As the meniscus of our cocktails inched closer to the stems, two salads presented themselves in front of us: one freckled with pomegranate seeds, the other dotted with cubes of goat cheese, each of them lightly dressed to let the organic leafy greens shine. The pair of complementary mounds of produce were consumed with equal fondness.
After what felt like a drawn-out gastronomic fit of foreplay, an amalgamation of familiar Thanksgiving sides was placed on the table with two individual servings of turkey confit — bedded on a smattering of honeynut squash puree and spiced seeds, moated with cornbread stuffing — being the main draws.
Admittedly, the turkey was dry; this seems to be a holiday trope that’s nearly inescapable, even for the most skilled among us. However, the lack of moisture in the bird was only noticed when consumed alone. Paired with the puree below, which boasted the same color pallet worn by sunsets over Ocean Beach, the dryness was undetectable. When you dolloped gravy over the bird sat atop a pillow of mashed potatoes, it was even less of an issue.
Dessert was served by way of a plate of spiced benefits. A small puddle of maple ice cream pooled around the spherical balls of fried dough, offering a welcomed bit of textural contrast.
When the very last ball was cut between my incisors, it was evident that the nearly two-hour dinner wasn’t just a celebration of seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients. It, too, was a letter of gratitude to San Francisco.
I couldn’t have been more smitten by that notion, which was perfectly enmeshed with the calendar date. And I’m now keen on seeing what other writings Terrene has in store for San Francisco’s dining scene.
//Terrene inside 1 Hotel (8 Mission Street) is open daily for dinner from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.; lunch is served during the week from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and brunch is served on the weekends from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; for more information on Terrene, including its current menus and dedication to procuring local ingredients, visit 1hotels.com/san-francisco/taste/terrene