Due to a changed flight I had a long wait at SFO last night, and so ventured out for a proper sit-down meal. The receptionist at the Admirals Club advised either a sushi place that was "excellent", or just past that a place that did fresh fish that was also "very, very good". Since I knew I'd be dining at Le Bernardin the next night, reputed to have some of the best fish in the world (and certainly in NYC), I figured I'd skip the cooked fish and have it raw instead.
The sushi restaurant was unfortunately just a counter, with only pre-packaged arrangements and not a-la-carte. Not looking appealing, I moved on towards Yankee Pier to see what the fresh fish looked like.
What a brilliant plan that was. Yankee Pier is very, very good – being in an airport not withstanding. The waiter informed me of what was fresh that night, including one not on the menu – rainbow trout. I opted for that and a glass of wine (no half-bottles), and a small green salad.
Unfortunately, and this is the only area where the restaurant fell down, after probably at least 10 minutes and my first glass of wine, the salad still hadn't arrived, so I flagged the waiter to ensure they arrived separately (I really find it irritating when a restaurant delivers the starter and the main together). He ran off to check it and came back apologizing that my order had fallen off the board. Oops. Had I been rushing to a flight, this would have been the end of diner, but fortunately I had time to spare.
The salad came quickly after, a simple green salad with oil and vinegar. No dressing options, which I can appreciate as I wouldn't want my dinner guests palettes tainted by an erroneous choice of Blue Cheese or 1,000 Island dressing before presenting a perfectly cooked and delicate fish.
Shortly after (but not too quick; the timing was good) the fish came. And I have to say, it was superb. Not just airport-food superb, but truly superb. The trout was butterflied and grilled, simple and pure. Served over a bed of sautéd squash and red potatoes, with a wedge of lemon, and a dish of tartar sauce (which I ignored). It was cooked perfectly. I relish in the slightly tougher 'jerky' edges you get when you grill a fat fish and the edges are inevitably overdone; to me these are almost a delicacy in themselves.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Terminal 3
rating: 4 feet
verdict: If you have time to kill in SFO, I can't think of a better place to do it.