San Francisco’s Wayfare Tavern is for (Organic Fried Chicken) Lovers

Tyler Florence, celebrity chef and television host, recently featured one of his San Francisco restaurants, Wayfare Tavern, on the Food Network show, “The Great Food Truck Race.”

The restaurant opened in 2010, but briefly operated as a food truck at the start of the pandemic when many restaurants had to close. Their food truck service is now on hiatus, but their restaurant has reopened!

Wayfare Tavern and the Transamerica Pyramid in the background

Chef Tyler’s Organic Fried Chicken was named one of the Best Fried Chicken in the United States by Food & Wine Magazine (2019).

The magazine even reveals the cooking technique used to achieve its special quality. (Hint: after marinating in buttermilk brine, the chicken is baked on low heat for a few hours before frying!)

Enticed by the idea of trying this special chicken on a special occasion, my husband immediately booked a lunch reservation at the Financial District restaurant to celebrate our anniversary.

Burrata Toast, Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco

For appetizers, we ordered charred country bread with burrata. The soft, creamy Italian cheese was lightly sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, served with several cubes of watermelon, cantaloupe, and pear, and topped with some fresh microgreens. My elder daughter called first dibs on the prosciutto di Parma. (By the way, she snapped all of the photos shown here. 📸)

While we waited for the Burrata Toast, we nibbled on warm popovers (our American version of Yorkshire pudding). My younger daughter and I thought they were freshly baked croissants until we tore off a piece, revealing a soft, hollow inside. The popover was especially tasty with a spread of butter!

As for beverages, I recalled Sancerre’s recent win as « Le village préféré des Français » on the France 3 program of the same name, so I decided to have a glass of the Karine Lauverjat Sancerre 2019. I thought it was light-bodied and soft. I wondered, Is this typical for this appellation? Didn’t matter – I liked it anyhow! Meanwhile, my husband enjoyed his red sangria cocktail of Tempranillo and rum with licorice-flavor from the French tarragon.

Preceded by the distinctive scent of roasted garlic and the woody aroma of rosemary, the main course arrived, at last. After removing the rosemary sprigs that were perched atop five assorted pieces of golden fried chicken, I squeezed some lemon on top and took a bite. I decided it was definitely worth the splurge: the chicken was simple, but tender and seasoned to perfection!

Organic Fried Chicken, Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco

In San Francisco, mask-wearing and social distancing are still required indoors (regardless of vaccination status), but neither rule seemed to be strictly enforced here. Despite the full house, the noise level was comfortable. At our table, we could hear each other without having to shout. We couldn’t hear others’ conversations either over the cheerful music playing softly in the background, like this tune:

🎶

With its mahogany walls giving warm British pub vibes, savory Italian cheese appetizers, lively Cuban music, and sweet French wines from the Loire Valley, Wayfare Tavern is true to its name – the atmosphere lent a feeling of journeying to distant lands!

Overall, I had an enjoyable experience – and that’s not the sauvignon blanc talking! 😉

Cheers / à votre santé !

Book Review: “The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux”

The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux

Author: Samantha Vérant

Publisher: Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House (New York)

Publication Date: September 8, 2020

Genre: Fiction; 352 pages

Synopsis

As a child, Sophie Valroux spent summers visiting her grandmother in southwestern France. Sophie credits “Grand-mère Odette” for instilling a love of food and cooking in her.

Today, 26-year-old Sophie is a chef living in New York City. She dreams of being part of the 1% of female chefs running a 3-star Michelin restaurant. At the restaurant where she is a chef de partie, Sophie is sabotaged by another chef, causing her to lose her job.

She is in the process of figuring out her next steps when she learns that her grandmother has suffered a stroke. Sophie travels back to France to care for her and finds out that the home where she spent her childhood summers is now a château with two restaurants and a vineyard.  

My Thoughts

As a Francophile who also loves good food, I couldn’t wait to read this book. Usually, in this type of novel (or, at least, the ones I’m drawn to), the main character moves to France, specifically Paris. In this novel, the main character is actually French-born; Sophie and her mother, Céleste, moved to New York when Sophie was a baby.

In addition, this story is set in the Toulouse area in southwestern France, bringing a welcome change. Lively descriptions of the Place du Capitole and surrounding areas reminded me of my own visit to La Ville Rose, or the Pink City.

I also liked how Sophie is not obsessed with romance. She’s not coy or playing hard to get either. She merely has a pragmatic and take-it-slow attitude toward relationships.

However, Sophie is indecisive and she gets in her own way at times. Her pride doesn’t let her easily accept gifts that she didn’t work for (namely, the gift of running the château’s restaurants while her grandmother recovers).

Nevertheless, the one area that Sophie does not waver in is food. For example, she knows exactly what she wants when developing menus, which I noticed almost always includes a velouté (a velvety savory sauce) and daurade (sea bream fish)!

Apart from Grand-mère Odette, the other characters in the novel were well-developed. I got the sense that they’re more like family than staff working at the château. Rémi and Jane provide tension throughout the narrative, as they weren’t thrilled about Sophie’s arrival. Fortunately, Sophie has supportive friends in Walter, his boyfriend, Robert, and Phillipa, who happens to be Jane’s sister.

The loose ends are tied up rather quickly, but happily-ever-after isn’t what you’d expect it to be. It’s Sophie’s own indecisiveness that keeps her happy enough.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about good food, family secrets, and supportive friendships. (Content warning: mentions of sexual harassment, depression, and suicide).

Not to miss: At the end of the book, Sophie shares a few recipes, including one for crème brûlée, which I’m inspired to make one of these days!

About the author

Samantha (Sam) Vérant is a travel addict, a self-professed oenophile, and a determined, if occasionally unconventional, at home French chef. She lives in southwestern France, where she’s married to a French rocket scientist she met in 1989 (but ignored for twenty years), a stepmom to two incredible kids, and the adoptive mother to a ridiculously adorable French cat. When she’s not trekking from Provence to the Pyrénées or embracing her inner Julia Child, Sam is making her best effort to relearn those dreaded conjugations.

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram. Visit her website or Amazon (this is not an affiliate link) to order the book.

Thank you to Berkley/Penguin Random House for inviting me to read The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Vérant. I received a digital advance review copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.