Wayfare Tavern is a new restaurant from Food TV personality Tyler Florence.
It evokes an era when “celebrity chef” was the one guy who traded his gold pan for a frying pan. The feel is Barbary Coast but Florence’s preparations are definitely not campfire or gold rush.
Wayfare call itself “a timeless San Francisco tavern featuring … dishes inspired by local cuisine at the turn of the 20th Century.” The first floor is dominated by a brick back wall with old portraits, a giant antlered animal head above a fireplace, dark leather booths and an eating bar looking into an open kitchen. Upstairs there are more dining and drinking areas and a billiard room you might find at an old gentlemen’s club.
The main fare at Wayfare is a celebrity chef’s take on the classics. The organic fried chicken comes with an herby, rosemary-infused crust. The classic Caesar salad is a head of baby romaine topped with a half soft-boiled egg, roasted garlic, capers and shaved Parmesan. If you like these two dishes, you will enjoy the Wayfare version of each.
For dessert I had spiced pumpkin pudding cake – a soft-centered treat along the lines of molten lava cake. It was accompanied by Inverness blue cheese, honeycomb from Tyler’s backyard and toasted walnuts. I had never considered pairing blue cheese and honey. But it works.
Other menu items range from exotic-sounding Santa Barbara sea urchin to short ribs, tri tip, duck and chicken paillard. I also spotted a good-looking burger (“grass-fed proprietary grind, Mt. Tam cheese, roasted onion, smoked bacon, brioche.”)
It was hard to get good TV reception during the gold rush. Made it tough to establish yourself as a TV celebrity chef. But one thing hasn’t changed. Good food is still good food. You can find it at Wayfare, where Tyler Florence takes the feel of old San Francisco and moves it forward.