It isn’t often that we come across a hotel restaurant that captures our attention, much less steals our heart. The Taj Campton hotel’s Campton Place, a one-Michelin-star restaurant, is one of those rare diamonds in the rough. This innovative and overall daring gastronomic adventure is reason enough to hop on a plane for a weekend getaway in San Francisco—the luxurious hotel suites to collapse on once you’ve entered your Michelin food coma are just an added bonus.
The Taj Campton is in the middle of the insanity that is San Francisco’s Chinatown, acting as an island of escape in the center of a coveted locale, right along Stockton Street and walking distance from the city’s financial district. It’s got refined décor, impeccable service, and one of the country’s best Indian chefs in the heart of Union Square. You’re surrounded by architecture, iconic landmarks, and fantastic food and culture. While Taj is happy to play perfect host to those on leisure or romantic trips to Downtown San Francisco, the hotel is really the ideal spot for those who travel to this city for business and stay for pleasure.
The iconic hotel is one of San Francisco’s most prominent landmarks, having been built over a century ago. Request a room with a view of Union Square, especially if you visit during winter when the plaza is decked out in festive decorations. Then head downstairs to the Campton Place Restaurant, among the best fine-dining restaurants in California.
Chef Srijith Gopinathan is changing the architecture of California cuisine as he blends California fresh ingredients and the use of its smoke, fire and brining techniques with India’s multi-faceted regional dishes, aromatics and traditional spice blends. His menu is a marriage of European-Californian sensibility with a Spice Route influence to result in a mélange of flavors.
Campton Place isn’t just known for its cuisine, it’s also a wine destination. Master sommelier Richard Dean has collected more than 10,000 bottles from all over the world, including an 81-year-old Madeira, a 17-year-old Riesling Spatlese and a three-year-old Albariño from Spain for the ultimate fine-dining experience.
We dove into the ‘Spice Route’ Menu, showcasing everything from an artisan Spice Pot of “Chaas”, Tamarind Chutney and Cilantro, Foie Gras Seared with K&J Farm Plum, Ginger Gastrique, Sylvetta Arugula, Black Cod with Green Strawberry Chutney, Curry Leaf, and Ghee, a Caramelized Milk concoction of Darjeeling Tea Crémeux and Citrus to end the evening…each course more creatively displayed and more delicious as the evening went on. The palate cleansers of an occasional glass of table side Cristal servings didn’t hurt either.
Gopinathan and Dean excel at delighting the senses and understand the power of a perfectly presented plate and paired glass. Caviar comes in a hollowed out lemon bowl set on a bed of rocks, crispy papadum is covered in edible flowers and the lassi-style peach and lime shake is served in a miniature milk jar with a flexible straw.
There’s no luxury overlooked, no detail not tended to. The entire experience, from the minute you step into the slightly over the top gilded hotel lobby to that last glass of a perfect port pour nightcap, is a lesson in classic luxury, the best sort of getaway. There’s an old school San Francisco feel in the way you’re treated like a guest and old friend, and makes the entire visit rather unforgettable.