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Early Critics Weigh In On Wayfare Tavern

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Unless you've been in Siberia this summer, you're aware that celebrity chef Tyler Florence of Food Network fame returned to the restaurant world in June with Wayfare Tavern, the first of three large-scale openings he's planning for the next few months. Since Tyler is a fancy TV guy to the core, industry folk have been skeptical about his ability to hang in the fast-paced restaurant kitchen environment; but the place has been packed to the gills since day one and it appears that people are enjoying themselves and basking in the glow of Ty-Flo's undeniable charisma. Now the FiDi Tavern has only been open for about six and a half weeks, so we can only speculate as to what the Bauers and Untermans of this city will think. Still take a moment to peruse the popular feedback floating around the Web, and feel free to file your comments below, or send them in to Eater HQ for consideration.

THE GOOD NEWS: Jessica Battilana sums things up thusly in her 7x7 First Bite review: "All in all, it's a menu that is easy to like and good for a mixed crowd. Even timid eaters can find solace in a chicken paillard topped with arugula salad, and the men streaming into the place from nearby FiDi offices can go Flintstones on a veal t-bone (a Tuesday blue-plate special)." And Single Guy Ben seems to think the joint has mass appeal as well: "...the early sign from Wayfare Tavern is that this celebrity chef respects the food and the city. And the result could well be another San Francisco institution."

THE SO SO NEWS: Yelper Derrick V. didn't swoon over everything: "The appetizers were hit or miss. We had the foie, mac and cheese, deviled eggs, bone marrow, and an uni dish I believe. The mains were definitely better, although pricey." And several Chowhounders echo this concern about pricing, like Windy: "It is amusing how stingy upscale restaurants are with their fried chicken accompaniments. Like a scoop of collard greens or a yam would break the bank. It must be an organic lemon."

THE DESSERT NEWS: The most Yelped-about item on Wayfare's menu happens to be the pineapple upside down cake. While there are some votes against it, like Regina C.'s urging to "PASS ON THIS," an alarming majority are in favor of the dessert, along the lines of Alice A.: "The buttery sweetness of caramelized sugar and pineapple slices of the warm cake combined with the salty bits in the melting cool ice cream--it was special indeed."

THE BURGER NEWS: 7x7 doesn't sound overly impressed with Ty-Flo's burger: "The patty is excellent, but the housemade brioche quickly sogs out from all the weighty, juicy toppings." But Anna Weinberg -- who's SoMa restaurant Marlowe has garnered a good deal of burger attention in it's own right -- has high praise for it: "Save yourself the airfare to NYC and the $27 for a burger at Minetta Tavern as Wayfare is pretty darn close."

THE INTERIOR NEWS: Single Guy Ben weighs in with a comparison to Rubicon: For me, the space definitely felt tighter. I remembered Rubicon being more open (I think it’s because Florence took up dining space for the open kitchen)...While you might think the place is stuffy, the Levi jeans worn by the staff signals I more casual ambiance. And several early reviewers comment on the noise levels, like FoodNut: "Place was loud and packed with foodies and Food Network fans eager to try this new restaurant. Waiters have a unique uniform of black apron and jeans." And the Inside Scoop has this added insight: Florence pointed out that all staffers are wearing Levi’s jeans because a) it’s a San Francisco thing and b) he wants his staffers’ butts to look good.

THE COCKTAIL NEWS: Cocktailian-about-town Camper English gets excited about the Bon Vivant's cocktail menu even before he tries it: "The days of precious cocktails is not quite over, I'm glad to say. Look no further than the Granite Lady: That's an Old Tom Gin Martini with three kinds of vermouth. Hallelujah!" And most Yelper's are on the same band wagon, like Connie C.: "The bartenders are all master mixologists, so if you just give them your base liquor of choice, they will whip something incredible up for you. Our favorites were the Bourbon Sidecar and their version of the East Side. Both perfect summer drinks. I also had the Occidental Sour, which was a version of a Pisco Sour."

Now that you've read some of what's out there, feel free to drop your opinions in the tip jar or right here in the comments.

[Photo: Yelp/Genevieve Y.]

Wayfare Tavern

558 Sacramento Street, , CA 94111 (415) 772-9060 Visit Website

Wayfare Tavern

558 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA

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