Trace has really nice decor and is a good setting for a date. Unfortunately, the food is only of average quality. The appetizers are really good (oysters and tomato soup were great), but the mains were only ok.
Overall, it was good, but wouldn't go back
GooglePlace - February 2018
Good, for a Hotel Restaurant
Since it was “Restaurant Week,” which actually lasts about ten days, in San Francisco, we decided to “get out of our usual restaurant rut” to try Trace, which is the restaurant attached to the W Hotel (although we didn’t know it was a “hotel restaurant” when we booked).
We arrived a bit early for our 6pm dinner reservation, so we stopped in for a drink at the W Hotel bar. The bartender was friendly and professional – and was able to explain the flavor profiles of the specialty cocktails.
We were among the first to be seated for dinner at Trace, since the restaurant itself doesn’t start dinner service until 6:00pm (the time of our reservation). We were presented with the Restaurant Week menu (three courses for $40 USD), the regular menu, the regular wine list, and a special Restaurant Week wine list with bottles that were half-priced for the evening, which was a delightful surprise.
At the suggestion of the server, we chose a 2008 Prelude A Grand Puy Ducasse, which is a Bordeaux and Medoc blend. The cork broke as the server opened the bottle of wine, so he took it back to strain and decant, adding that the decanting would benefit the wine since it was a “bit mineral” in taste, which was an understatement, even after decanting and breathing. A mineral taste in a white Sancerre is lovely, but rather off-putting in a Bordeaux. For us, the flavor never “opened up” to be a fulfilling wine taste. In addition, while writing this review, I consulted the online menu, which indicated that the Restaurant Week special dinners included a glass of wine, but the server didn’t mention that fact (and we, frankly, didn’t notice the mention of the complimentary glass of wine at the time of our dinner).
As for dinner itself, I started with the ahi tuna tataki, with winter citrus, avocado, and black olive vinaigrette (as described on the menu). The overall flavor of the dish was OK, I suppose, but the tuna lacked in flavor, even with the overly briny olive vinaigrette. The avocado turned out to be seven dots of avocado mousse. For his starter, my husband had the roast pork belly with gochujang butternut purée and pickled apples. His dish was, by far, the better choice for a starter. The pork belly was prepared quite well, and not overly salty, which was a big plus.
For the main course, we both had the Liberty Farms duck breast, served with farro, baby kale, and duck confit croquettes. While the duck was cooked properly to medium-rare, the meat was very tough, to the point that we had to “saw off” bits with the table knife. Even if the server had brought a proper serrated knife for the meat (which, by the way, should have been done automatically), the duck itself was overly chewy and lacking in flavor. The farro and the croquettes were quite good, but if I never see kale on a menu again, that would be fine with me.
For dessert, we both had the vanilla bread pudding, with butterscotch caramel, almonds, and whipped crème fraiche, which was delicious. In fact, it was the best part of the meal.
Overall, the restaurant is generally good, particularly for a “hotel restaurant.” If you’re staying in downtown San Francisco for business, Trace is a good restaurant for the area; but, as a resident of San Francisco, I’m not going to rush back for a repeat meal.
GooglePlace - February 2018