1. LIVE UNI
Ebisu, 1283 Ninth Avenue (at Irving), 415-566-1770, www.ebisusushi.com
Sea urchin makes my list twice, but for very different reasons. At Ebisu, you will find uni in its purist form – cracked opened before your eyes and served in its spiny vessel. While the source doesn’t sound sexy (the “roe” is actually the gonads of the urchin), the velvety texture and sweet, buttery taste defines sexy in my book. While fresh uni is always a treat, live uni elevates it to a whole new level – bright orange in color, silky but firm on the tongue, and a more robust flavor with lovely, lingering floral notes.
2. GLAZED OYSTERS WITH OSETRA CAVIAR, SALSIFY AND LETTUCE CREAM
Restaurant Gary Danko, 800 North Point Street (at Hyde), 415-749-2060, www.garydanko.com
Just putting oysters and caviar in the same sentence is sexy enough for me, but this Gary Danko signature is one of the most perfect single dishes on any menu in San Francisco. Plump, briny oysters are poached in their own juices and nestled in a bright, luscious, herby lettuce cream. Salsify is a root also known as oyster plant because of its subtle oyster-like flavor. Put it all together, add dollops of caviar, and you’ll be swooning right along with your sweetie.
3. BONE-IN FILET MIGNON
Bobo’s, 1450 Lombard Street (at Franklin), 415-441-8880, www.boboquivaris.com
The first time I tried the bone-in filet at Bobo’s my eyes rolled back in my head. Over the years I’ve taken many people to try it, from business associates to boyfriends, and they all have the same reaction: It’s the best steak in the City, bar none. While filet is a leaner cut of beef, the hard-to-find bone-in variety is juicier with more marbling. The addition of the bone and that extra marbling means a lot more flavor. This is an impressive steak, standing three to four inches high and seared with garlic and rosemary for a crisp, aromatic, caramelized crust. The interior is religiously medium-rare, pink and juicy (if your date tries to order the bone-in filet medium or well-done, a swift kick under the table is perfectly justified – as is a solo cab ride home).
4. WARM SEA URCHIN WITH CRAB AND VERJUS BUTTER SAUCE
Anchor & Hope, 83 Minna Street (at Second), 415-501-9100, www.anchorandhopesf.com
The second appearance of sea urchin on my list is the polar opposite of the first, but every bit as delicious. While the live uni at Ebisu lets the urchin shine in its natural state, at Anchor & Hope the succulent, orange pads are served warm along with generous lumps of crabmeat all swathed in a creamy potato puree. A scatter of delicately diced tomatoes and a hint of verjus (the juice of semi-ripe, unfermented grapes) in the decadent butter sauce complete this bowl of perfection, which is not only one of the sexiest dishes in town, but also one of the best things I’ve eaten anywhere.
5. GARLIC ICE CREAM
The Stinking Rose, 325 Columbus Avenue (at Broadway), 415-781-7673, www.thestinkingrose.com
Like I said – if you want romance after dinner and you love garlic as much as I do, make sure you both eat it. I can see you crinkling your nose right now, but the Gilroy garlic ice cream at The Stinking Rose, drizzled with a caramel mole sauce, is actually tasty and oddly addictive. The first time I had it on a dare, but now I order it at the end of every visit. (Before the ice cream, I recommend the garlic-roasted prime rib –100 percent USDA-certified prime Midwestern beef, which is one of the best-kept secrets in the City, or, if red meat’s not your thing, try their famous 40-clove garlic chicken roasted on the bone to keep it juicy and moist.)
Susan Dyer Reynolds can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org