Monday, January 03, 2005

Taylors Automatic Refresher -The Ferry Building - San Francisco

1 Market St San Francisco, CA 94105

Date of our visit - December 2004
Taylor's Automatic Refresher Website can be found here

O V E R - P R I C E D

Such is the curse of having a boyfriend with an unadventurous palate. Christmas shopping at San Francisco's Ferry Building we found ourselves to be peckish and in need of some quick nourishment. There are many places there I would love to try, the oyster bar, the caviar bar, the tea house. But none of these appeal to the carnivorous Frenchman who loves nothing more than a slab of medium-rare cow lying in between two wads of cushy carbohydrate with a pile of crispy carbohydrate to the side.

To appease him I suggested Taylor's Automatic Refresher, even though I had tried it in the summer with a couple of English friends (when the weather was more clement and we could, at least, enjoy sitting outside). On that occasion we determined that their Fish and Chips (Fresh Mahi Mahi served with fries, slaw, & tarter sauce), were mediocre at best.

Despite the steep prices (for what they deliver) there is no waitress service at Taylor's. Pick up one of their huge menus and peruse it as fast as you can before you reach the front of the queue. On this occasion there was no line at all, causing our decisions to be more hurried than they might have been. For example, we didn't notice that fries weren't included with the burgers. This is one place where I might actually have liked the server to enquire "Would you like some fries with that?". Once you have paid, you are given a strange device (pictured above), that will bleep and flash at you, in irksome fashion, once your meal is ready to be picked up from the counter.

If you find yourself a free table, the chances are that it won't have been cleared or wiped and that discarded bits of food are trampled on the floor underneath. Despite, the clean, sharp looking graphics above the kitchen and the attractive stainless steel counters, the setting for your meal might actually verge on grimy. Despite it's allusions to grandness, this place uses plastic cutlery. Is it trying to be a glorified fast food chain?

PATTY MELT On grilled rye with Swiss cheese, grilled onions, mayo, & dijon mustard 6.99
Fred asked for this dish with something other than rye. He asked for a regular bun, not sourdough. He ended up with sweet white toast. Fred thought it tasted awful. He complained all afternoon about the burger repeating on him. I can quote him as having said, I ate it because I was hungry, otherwise I wouldn't have gone anywhere near it.

AHI BURGER Fresh Ahi tuna seared RARE with ginger wasabi mayo & asian slaw on a Sciambra bakery egg bun 11.99
To be fair, this was actually tasty. The portion was unbelievably small (despite the close-up beauty shot which might kid you into thinking it was enormous). The tuna tasted good and was thick. The bun, despite being toasted, was soft and slightly shriveled. The slaw was crunchy and spicy and a great contrast to the mushy bun. My main complaint would be that there is something watery in the sauce used, causing the bun to turn "wet" and making liquid dribble out all over the place whilst you are trying to eat it.

In conclusion: The Ferry building is obviously a destination for both tourists and locals alike. The plaza is aware of its appeal and I can't blame for the stores inside, who no doubt paying large rents, for cashing in on their captive audience. However, I think Taylors is pushing it a bit too far. At those prices they should at least provide a clean environment, staff with a little more savvy, decent utensils, larger portions and a more interesting wine list. My advice is to skip eating or drinking here and head to the The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants instead, where you can get a great glass of wine at a much better price. They also serve picnic boxes of cheese or pate with bread, or you can take along a snack of your own choice to consume at the bar whilst you sample their wine specials.

How Foodies Can Help With Tsunami Relief. Tip of the Day #1

Many people are returning to work today after an extended break. Check to see if your employer is offering a donation match. Many larger organisations will match a donation made by staff, thereby doubling the potential amount of money you can help raise.
Taylors Automatic Refresher -The Ferry Building - San Francisco


  • At 3/1/05 08:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam! It has become a tradition to stop for a bite at their St. Helena location whenever we are in the area. I've only eaten their burgers, fries and shakes and they were quite good. Will have to try the Ferry Building's location next. :-) Viv

  • At 3/1/05 10:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Becks & Posh,

    I would greatly appreciate your mentioning and listing my 2004 Tsunami articles: cross-listings by Foodies are definitely moving traffic to donation sites, which is the only area where the average citizen can make a difference. These postings include donation links, latest news, and missing persons links (and I also list as many cross-referencing food and other blogs as I can find),

    Many thanks - Juliette Rossant, superchefblog- Tsunami Update 4: US Ex-Presidents Lead Funding- Tsunami Update 3: Christmas Island- New Year's Resolution: Eat Well, Help Others- Tsunami Update 2: Race Against More Death- Tsunami Update 1: Foodies Help- 2004 Tsunami: How Foodies Can Help

  • At 3/1/05 10:24, Blogger Sam said…

    Hi Juliette
    I was reading your site and great links last night and already planned to link to you on my next tip. I can't really blog from work and add it right now. You will be there on tomorrow's post. Thanks for all your efforts. We are planning some bakesales, hopefully.

  • At 3/1/05 14:20, Blogger Molly said…

    How disappointing to hear such icky things about Taylor's Refresher in the Ferry Building! I, like Viv, have been to the St. Helena outpost, where I had a *terrific* milkshake, but hmmm...guess I'll be steering clear of the SF branch. Thanks for the report.

  • At 3/1/05 19:14, Blogger Sam said…

    Maybe there will be some other places to try in the Ferry Building when you visit :)
    It does sound like a shame. I have hear other good reports of the original.

  • At 4/1/05 01:31, Blogger Reid said…

    Hi Sam,

    I'm so sorry that both you and Fred were disappointed with the food. I've never been here, but it looks like an overpriced cafeteria to me (judging by the photo of course).

  • At 4/1/05 07:45, Blogger Derrick said…

    Melissa and I ate at the FB location once when there was no line. Usually there's this gargantuan line that suggests that Thomas Keller is flipping burgers.

    We too were very surprised to not get fries with our burgers, and we had the same "this isn't that great" reaction. I guess now we know it wasn't an isolated thing.

  • At 12/12/05 08:53, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Okay Sam I have an idea. Try a Taylors challenge. Try the both the one in St. Helena, Ca and do a taste test at the Ferry Building and do some kind of result test in comparison. See which one do you think will be better. That would be my reccomendation. In fact Sam, try ordering a couple of things on the menu and do a survey and see what kind of results you could come up with. Thanks Sam. Jer

  • At 12/12/05 13:56, Blogger Sam said…

    hey Jer - are you going to pay for me to do this? Cos, umm, I am an independent spirit and can't be bought.

    Really - as you can tell from my review, I am not so excited about TAR that I would take the trouble to spend my time and money driving all the way up North to try some of the sameish.

    Perhaps you could do it instead and report back here what you find? That would be great. thanks



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