Bourbon Steak is the third iteration of my relationship with the wonderful room off the Union Square lobby of the St. Francis Hotel. Itís the second iteration of Michael Minaís presence in the space.
The history of the room is rich and colorful. It first opened in 1904, was restored after the San Francisco earthquake, went through many transformations as a restaurant and meeting place for the cityís rich and powerful, and in 1982 became the elegant Compass Rose. There high tea was served in the afternoon and an upscale bar crowd filled the place in the evenings.
When Jennifer and I arrived at the St. Francis several years ago and found the area boarded up and under renovation to become a restaurant, I was heartbroken. Yet another icon of a bygone era was going bye-bye. On a subsequent visit we had dinner for the first time at Michael Mina, named for the chef who had taken over the space. We were sold. All things change and, while we would miss the Compass Rose, we had found a terrific restaurant in its place. When I created atLarrys.com in 2009, Michael Mina was one of my original recommendations.
All well and good, until Mina decided to move his restaurant to a new location and close down his operation at the St. Francis. Fortunately, he changed his mind and instead converted the hotel lobby-side restaurant to a steak house.
Enter iteration three Ė Bourbon Steak. Itís pricey Ė very pricey. But itís also good Ė very good. There are other things on the menu Ė a few fish dishes, some chicken, truffled mac & cheese. But itís a steakhouse. Beef is the reason to go there.
At Bourbon Steak each cut of beef is poached in a mixture of different broths, spices and herbs before the meat is finished off under the broiler. The result was an absolutely wonderful rib eye steak for me and a perfect filet mignon for Jennifer. Before deciding on the rib eye I also considered the flat iron steak and the hanger steak.
For sides we had pureed Yukon gold potatoes and cauliflower roasted in a Worcestershire reduction.
As for the room itself, the historic columns remain. But the elegance of Michael Mina has been replaced by a steakhouse look. The bar still delivers a perfect Perfect Manhattan made with rye whiskey and the wine list has a heavy French influence.