As you walk into the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco, you know right away this is not going to be any regular dining establishment. In front of you is a wood clad wall, artwork in its own right, with stairs leading upstairs to a balcony. It’s quiet, warm, and modern. It’s one of the most under spoken yet grand entrances in the city. The only sign you see is marking the steps for OneUP Restaurant & Lounge.
Heading upstairs, you are met with an immaculate presentation of tables, art, lighting, and a view of the kitchen, along with an impossibly polite staff to match. As you sit and take it all in, you feel comfortable, warm, and at ease. Conversations around you are at a minimal volume and not distracting from the ambiance of the restaurant.
Then the drinks arrive. These are no ordinary drinks, but perfectly crafted, properly glassed, works of art in liquid form. Exquisite ingredients, perfect amounts of ice, the right ratio to allow each flavor to dance on the tongue. My drink of choice tonight was the Manhattan neat, and I left there craving another. It was perfect, heavenly in nature, velvet on the tongue. Smooth would not begin to describe this drink. (It is actually the drink that inspired our latest quick fix recipe) My fellow diners all tried other classics, from a simple vodka and lemon to an Old Fashioned, all of which were enjoyed at the perfect pace and in the same, pleasant manner. This was the perfect start to an amazing evening.
Now, there are often a few dishes I lean towards when dining out, and lately it has been Brussels sprouts. Having been the victim of horrible recipes in the past, it took me a long time to get passed the memories and horrible flavors to rediscover this amazing green. OneUP has a side order of crispy Brussels sprouts, and please take it from me, you want to order these first. Multiple plates of them. Make these your appetizer. The char, the bitterness, all mixed with oils and fats from the bacon and seasoning, made these heavenly. Were they the star of the show? I would not go that far, but to say they stole quite a bit of the spotlight would be an honest statement. They were astounding and easily shared and enjoyed by the whole table.
The star of the show though came with the main dish, and not even mine. Across the table, one of my fellow diners ordered the mushroom risotto, made with sauteed mushrooms, leeks, truffle oil, and Parmesan. Simple ingredients prepared so perfectly, brought together at the right time, it was heavenly. The risotto was cooked to perfection, the perfect texture, as the Parmesan and truffle oil did not mask, but enhanced the whole dish. It was balanced, light, and filling. By no means were the braised ribs I ordered anything to sell short, but this perfectly made mushroom risotto was the meal of dreams.
It’s hard to wonder how such a perfect dining experience could exist in a hotel, where food is often thought the be the afterthought of most places. But here, within the walls of the Grand Hyatt, I sat in wonder and amazement at the ingredients I had just experienced. The perfect balance of ambiance, modern flair, and perfectly crafted food and drink, all within a welcoming and warm setting.