For months I looked forward to the last weekend in August when my whole family would be in the Bay Area. My brother traveled back from Europe, my parents came up from San Diego, and my great-uncle flew in from Boston to all be together on his 90th birthday. As we’ve grown older and started our own families, we all see each other less often than we would like.
I have wanted to go to Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern since moving to the Bay Area and recommended that we have my uncle’s birthday dinner there. For a peek inside Wayfare Tavern and some amazing photo based recipes, check out Tyler Florence’s instagram account (@tylerflorence).
The aptly named Wayfare Tavern features dark wood, hunting memorabilia, old-fashioned light fixtures, and exposed brick. The turn of the century feel is not limited to the decor; the food focuses on local and sustainable ingredients transformed into rustic American comfort foods.
Our party of eight was seated in the Billiard Room, an intimate venue that can be used either as a pool room or dining room. Although I would normally enjoy the loud energy of the restaurant, it was nice to have a private room to catch up with each other and celebrate the evening.
Andy and I both got fancy drinks, although the names and types have escaped me. My drink, on the right, had watermelon and cute little sprouts in it. Both drinks were excellent.
We started with a family favorite, deviled eggs (Old Bay yolks, bread and butter pickles, celery, crisp gulf shrimp). The crunch of the shrimp was a nice compliment to the smooth yolks, an appreciated deviation from the traditional deviled eggs. Maybe its nostalgia, but we all agreed that no one’s deviled eggs are better than my mom’s.
I knew that I’d be ordering the fried chicken (buttermilk brine, roasted garlic, crisp woody herbs, lemon) before even stepping inside the restaurant. Chef Florence’s chicken consistently gets spectacular reviews and it exceeded my already high expectations. Andy and my dad each ordered the chicken and loved it as well. It was juicy, crispy, and flavorful- three things all fried chicken should be.
My brother went with the special, an ode to American favorites. It had pork, beans, and potato salad, all of which Ben loved.
The only other dish I photographed was my mom’s California king salmon (almond, apricots, watercress, yellow curry). She loved the curry and said it was so good that she would have to try to recreate the salmon at home.
Dessert went unphotographed, but we shared chocolate cream pie (TCHO chocolate pudding, salty caramel ganache, devils food cake) and their seasonal peach pie (ice cream, rosemary sugar). The peach pie is large enough for a crowd and easily serves 2 or 3 people.
The evening was a wonderful celebration of Uncle Ben’s birthday. It was particularly special for him to celebrate here in San Francisco and Berkeley, as he was born here in Berkeley in 1922.
I’m looking forward to visiting Hawk’s Tavern in Mill Valley, Florence’s sister restaurant to Wayfare Tavern.