Tag Archives: Ritz-Carlton San Francisco restaurant

Parallel 37 Comes Full Circle

Guinea hen terrine with eggplant -- on the new tasting menu at Parallel 37.

Guinea hen terrine with eggplant — on the new tasting menu at Parallel 37.


San Francisco’s Parallel 37 has done a 360.


Two years ago, the once prim, proper and heavily brocaded Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco was jettisoned. So were the tasting menus.

In its place came a sleeker, more modern space, renamed Parallel 37 (after the geographic latitude running near the Bay Area). The tasting menus were eliminated in favor of la carte dining.

But something funny happened along the way. Chef Ron Siegel departed for Michael Mina Restaurant in San Francisco. His successor was Michael Rotondo, who brought back the tasting menus, slowly but surely, and something even more important. Rotondo, former executive chef of Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, convinced his former Windy City colleagues to jump into the fog with him. Besides Rotondo, Parallel 37 now boasts Trotter alums: Sous Chef Mitchell Nordby, Pastry Chef Andrea Correa, and the most recent hire, Restaurant Manager and Sommelier Ryan Stetins. Parallel 37 now boasts more Trotter veterans than any other restaurant in the country.

Rotondo added a tasting menu option early on, but left the a la carte menu, too. But starting in June, the restaurant went to a tasting menu-only format: three courses for $65, five courses for $95, and eight courses for $135. Wine pairings are an additional $40, $55 and $85, respectively.

The contemporary dining room.

The contemporary dining room.

In an homage to Trotter’s famed “kitchen table” dining experience, Rotondo also has added something similar. Guests start the evening inside the kitchen with cocktails and canapes to watch the cooks in action. Then, they are seated at a table next to the kitchen for an eight-course tasting menu with wine pairings. The “Kitchen Table” experience is $250 per person. A minimum of four people is required.

A couple weeks ago, I was invited in to dine as a guest in the main dining room. Parallel 37 is one of the 54 restaurants featured in my debut cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons Press) and it was a kick to see a stack of the books for sale behind the hostess stand.

Thrilled to have the recipe for "Pig 'N' Boots'' in my cookbook, "San Francisco Chef's Table.''

Thrilled to have the recipe for “Pig ‘N’ Boots” in my cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table.”

Of course, I had to start the evening off with a “Pig ‘N’ Boots” ($14), a cocktail created by mixologist Camber Lay and featured in my cookbook. Normally — and particularly when I have a wine pairing yet to come — I take a few sips of a cocktail, but leave the rest. Not this one. It’s amazing that a scotch-based cocktail can be this light and refreshing. Lillet Rose, lavender, yuzu and a fresh grating of cinnamon over the top give it balance, so that it’s not overly boozy tasting but rather floral and tangy instead.

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New Chef Lights Up Parallel 37 in San Francisco

A steamed bun like no other.

A steamed bun like no other.


When you’re the former executive chef of renowned Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, you don’t make a steamed bun with pork belly like everyone else.

No, the fluffy clam-shell bun that Chef Michael Rotondo now does at Parallel 37 in San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel comes stuffed with a crispy chicken foot instead.

One that is impossibly, improbably but absolutely devoid of all bone and cartilage.

If you’ve ever gnawed on a chicken foot at a dim sum restaurant, you know just how many bones that small appendage contains. So, it’s quite an astonishing, er, feat to remove them all, while still retaining the shape of the feet.

The dining room.

The dining room.

But at Parallel 37, Rotondo does just that, assigning a team of two chefs to create this playful dish that requires steaming the chicken feet, then carefully taking tweezers to them.

All for one dish that can be eaten in two bites.

The Fort Orange cocktail.

The Fort Orange cocktail.

Since taking over as chef de cuisine from Ron Siegel who departed to head the kitchen at Michael Mina in San Francisco, Rotondo has put his own spin on the menu, creating dishes that seem familiar in name or taste, but are actually reborn anew.

Not surprising from a chef who received the “Most Promising Chef” award from icons Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller after Rotondo competed in the U.S. Bocuse d’Or competition in 2008.

Written in the style that’s all the rage now, the menu ($14 to $32) at Parallel 37 is divided into “Vegetable,” “Fish” and “Meat,” with a few ingredients listed for each dish, but no clues as to how it’s prepared. For instance, there’s a dish of “octopus — smoked sunchoke, breakfast radish ($21).”

There’s also a chef’s tasting menu option of eight market-inspired courses for $135 per person.

This style of dining invites you to sit back, be adventurous and put your trust in Rotondo’s hands. Which is exactly what I did earlier this month, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

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