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Where to Have the Ultimate Holiday Feast in the City

By Katie Sweeney

Eat your way through this collection of seasonal dishes from the area’s most acclaimed restaurants. Imagine how epic it would be to have all these plates in one place!

Planning the ultimate holiday menu can be a thrill. I’m an avid home cook, so half the fun of hosting a dinner party — whether it’s Christmas Eve or a Sunday gift-wrapping get-together — includes dishes that balance deliciousness, comfort and surprise. When the Gazette asked me to create a smorgasbord composed of show-stoppers from my favorite restaurants and chefs, I jumped at the task.

The holidays require celebratory ingredients, multiple courses, conversation-starting entrees and decadent desserts. Some items — like Angler’s indulgent caviar service and Sorrel’s sensational sourdough focaccia — immediately came to mind. Then, there are the prominent chefs I wanted to include, specifically Dominique Crenn and Michael Mina, and the restaurants I love, Che Fico and Barcino. I can’t stop thinking about the ravioli I had a couple of weeks ago at the longtime San Francisco standby One Market, and the melt-in-your-mouth fish (skate wing!) I had at newcomer One65. Lazy Bear celebrates its 10th anniversary this year — an ideal reason to add the classic spot to the menu. Nowadays, a vegan main is necessary, so I turned to Wildseed for a wintery dish that’s both hearty and satisfying. And for dessert? Lori Baker and Emily Luchetti, two beloved top pastry chefs, will dazzle us with their confections. If reading this makes you hungry, you’re in luck, because all of these items are currently available at their respective restaurants. Happy eating!


Private Batch Caviar

Angler, Chef Joshua Skenes

Angler’s chef works with a small purveyor in Sacramento to harvest Kaluga caviar twice a year. The hybrid sturgeon roe is cured in smoked sea salt and aged for nine to 18 months. It’s served with grilled Parker House rolls that are brushed with boar fat and butter from Petaluma cows. Divine!

Brussels Sprout, Smoked Provolone, Caramelized Onion and Guanciale Pizza

Che Fico, Chef David Nayfeld

Nayfeld makes the guanciale (cured pork cheek with a flavor profile similar to bacon’s) in house and smokes the provolone himself. The Brussels sprouts are roasted to crisp perfection before being put on the pizza. The icing on the cake? A generous shaving of Parmesan cheese on the pillowy crust.

Oysters on the Half Shell

Bar Crenn, Chef Dominique Crenn

Crenn’s succulent oysters, from Morro Bay, come topped with a Muscadet gelée, smoked crème fraîche, and fresh chervil from Bleu Belle Farm.

First Course

Sourdough Focaccia

Sorrel, Chef Alexander Hong

Sorrel’s focaccia is made daily with three types of flour — a blend of all-purpose, whole wheat and semolina — and a 2-year-old sourdough starter. The dough naturally ferments for 24 hours, and then it’s steamed and baked. Served with the homemade cultured butter, it’s heaven.

Fall Squash Bisque

Lazy Bear, Chef David Barzelay

This incredible soup is a complex combination of squash and seafood. Lobster and shrimp shells are turned into a luxurious shellfish stock that the squash is simmered in. A splash of sherry adds depth and richness.The bisque is served with a sidecar of Carolina gold puffed brown rice dressed with cultured butter, lobster coral gram, and prawn roe salt.

Pera Salad

Barcino, Chef Ryan McIIwraith

McIIwraith mixes pretty pink chicories with fresh pear, poached quince and green olives. Pecans, which are candied with flax and chia seed, add a delightful crunch. Everything is tossed with a creamy and tangy vinaigrette made with cava vinegar, buttermilk, Greek yogurt and citrus.

Third Course

Donburi Bowl

Wildseed, Chef Blair Warsham

At the Marina’s newest plant-based restaurant, Warsham piles warm brown rice high with roasted yams, marinated mushrooms and sautéed chard. Avocados add a creamy texture, kimchi provides heat, and pickled cucumbers give a welcoming crunch to this nutritious bowl.

Skate Wing

One65, Chef Claude Le Tohic

Le Tohic serves the East Coast fish on a bed of baby kale and olive oil. It’s roasted until crispy and juicy and served with melted tomatoes and grenobloise sauce, a combination of brown butter, parsley, capers, lemon and croutons.

Sunchoke Ravioli

One Market, Chef Mark Dommen

Dommen roasts and pickles the sunchokes with garlic before putting them through a foodmill to make a puree suitable for filling ravioli.The egg pasta is made in house, and the vegetarian-friendly sauce consists of chives and butter. Parmesan cheese and hazelnuts complete the sublime creation.

Côte de Boeuf

Michael Mina, Chef Raj Dixit

The beef is aged for 28 days. It’s then roasted in alfalfa hay and smoked tableside. The scrumptious meat is served on skordalia, a potato and garlic puree, with black truffles and wild sumac harvested from the High Sierra.


Eggnog Cheesecake

Bluestem Brasserie, Lori Baker

Baker excels at celebration cakes, and her eggnog cheesecake is a seasonal favorite. Baker makes the eggnog from scratch before folding it into the creamy egg custard. The cake has a gingersnap crust, butterscotch cranberry sauce, and fresh cranberries.


Marlowe, Emily Luchetti

The Vacherin, a traditional French meringue, consists of whipped egg whites and sugar cooked in a low oven overnight, so it dries out but doesn’t brown. It’s topped with coffee ice cream, warm Guittard chocolate sauce and caramel nut.

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