Be Our Guest: Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern

Jansen Trahan

I have officially been a human for 21 years.  In celebration of my survival, I (not on purpose, but kind of on purpose) decided to spread the joy and stretch the festivities into a multi-weekend extravaganza.

For the first weekend, I flew to Austin, Texas, where I was reunited with some family and friends. Four days of tacos, hiking, dancing, singing, and a half pound of smoked brisket later, I returned to Berkeley for my official birthday week.

A midterm kept me grounded during the school week, but when the weekend arrived, we got fancy.

Wayfare Tavern, located in San Francisco’s Financial District, was the site of my official birthday dinner, and holy crap if it wasn’t one of the top ten food decisions I’ve ever made.

The restaurant, established in 2010 by celebrity chef Tyler Florence, indeed feels like walking into Gaston’s Tavern from Beauty and the Beast. Animal head trophies adorn the high wooden wall above the well-stocked rustic bar, and warm light plays off the worn brick walls, which are scattered with old framed paintings and sketches. Bar-type seating surrounding the kitchen allows diners to watch the chefs in all their glory, like a culinary coliseum.

According to our charming waiter, Chef Florence’s concept for the tavern stemmed from many years of research into the rich history of San Francisco’s ports, most of which I missed because I was salivating over the menu.

Carrot Margarita (Tequila Blanco, Damiana, Lime, Carrot Juice)

Carrot Margarita (Tequila Blanco, Damiana, Lime, Carrot Juice)

I felt morally obligated to order an alcoholic beverage, so I picked the bougiest one I could find. It was surprisingly delicious and didn’t taste like V8, but it was still a FRIGGIN CARROT MARGARITA, so naturally it was healthy. In that moment, I was Gwyneth Paltrow.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Baked Macaroni & Cheese (Vella dry jack & smoked olive oil)

There are no words. I swear this mac & cheese is made by Satan (in the best way). Creamy and cheesy, but not rich enough that I had to stop eating. Pure evil. I live for mac & cheese, y’all, and this dish gave me life.

Organic Fried Chicken (buttermilk brine, roasted garlic, crisp woody herbs, lemon)

Organic Fried Chicken (buttermilk brine, roasted garlic, crisp woody herbs, lemon)

I honestly spent upwards of ten minutes trying to decide on an entrée, and ultimately forced our waiter to choose for me. He recommended the fried chicken, saying, “It’s what people come for, and it’s what people come back for.” You guys. I’m from South Louisiana. Like, the dirty dirty. And this fried chicken was ON POINT.

Homemade Doughnuts (with a trio of dipping sauces)

Homemade Doughnuts (with a trio of dipping sauces)

YOU GUISE. THIS PLACE SERVES DONUTS. WITH JAMS AND A COFFEE-INFUSED CHOCOLATE SAUCE FOR DIPPING PURPOSES. THIS SHOULD BE ILLEGAL.

Darlene Peach Pie (organic Frog Hollow peaches, brown butter ice cream)

Darlene Peach Pie (organic Frog Hollow peaches, brown butter ice cream)

Yeah, I had two desserts. Come at me, bro. But really, this peach pie was everything I never knew I needed in life. The crust was flaky and angelic and looked like it was made by Le Cordon Bleu-trained woodland creatures (I’ve seen entirely too many Disney movies). The peaches were so peachy, and the ice cream was so icy. I just can’t. A perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Happy birthday to me.

For more information on Chef Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern, visit http://wayfaretavern.com.

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