BY LOUIS ALCORN
Atop Nob Hill in San Francisco sits a collection of historic high-rise hotels surrounding Grace Cathedral and Huntington Park. Just down from the Fairmont and across the road from the Pacific-Union Club— a private club reserved for descendants of America’s railroad tycoons— sits the Huntington Hotel. It is home to The Big Four Restaurant.
The entrance foyer sits flanked with display cases of bottles of whiskey and gin distilled in San Francisco in the early 1900’s. After a walk up the stairs, one is greeted with a professional pianist serenading the patrons of the bar with classic Beethoven and Mozart.
I went to the Big Four with my family for dinner one evening in celebration of my brother’s acceptance to USF. Rarely do I scan a menu and realize that I want to order everything. Usually, something sticks out. Between the special of the night – a pan-seared swordfish filet – the filet mignon, the sole, and the flank of wild boar, I simply could not decide. I’m a rather venturesome eater and hadn’t ever dabbled with a cut of wild boar before, so I ultimately settled with that.
A butter lettuce Shrimp Louis salad preceded the main course of boar. As I’d presumed, the fresh shrimp, avocado, and leaves of lettuce hit the spot. Although the boar appeared to be a darker meat than the one that I’d envisioned, it was cooked to utter perfection. What seemed like a gamey version of pork sat soaked in a delicious sauce, paired with fried plantains, a cinnamon-coated baked apple, and corn pilaf.
After our main course, I hardly had any room left in the tank. However, my father insisted that we order desserts for the table. I couldn’t really say no. We shared a chocolate meltdown cake soaked in dark cherry marmalade and an order of cinnamon-raisin bread pudding. Going for dessert ended up being the right choice.
Looking back, the meal remains one of the best I’ve had in some time. To put a cherry atop the cake, Martha Stewart and friends happened to be seated next to us for dinner. I suppose you know you’re eating in the right place when you’re eating beside America’s most recognizable cooking sensation!