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    Fable Restaurant: Dining Al Fresco at Its Finest

    By David Landis, The Gay Gourmet —

    When it comes to dining, outdoor courtyards always beckon. There’s something about an off-street hidden hideaway, sheltered from the elements, that promises a whimsical surprise. It’s even better when that courtyard, like the covered one at Fable Restaurant in the Castro, is a tropical paradise.

    From the minute you walk in the door at Fable, the lush, landscaped patio catches your eye. That’s not to say that Fable’s lovely street level parklets aren’t floral and beautiful, too. They’re great for café sitting and watching Castro Street passersby. But given a choice, I’ll pick the backyard terrace every time.

    Those of us who call ourselves San Franciscans know that the best time to enjoy an outdoor repast is during the middle of the day, when the sun is bright and before the fog rolls in. That’s why I recommend brunch or lunch at Fable: to glean the most of the experience and pretend that you’re taking a mini-vacation to the tropics. Proprietor Jon is the caretaker of this magical garden, which boasts mid-century décor, a water feature and fountain, birds of paradise, cannas, banana trees, palm trees, and more. 

    Needless to say, Fable is uber dog-friendly, too. For a moment, Gaston and Alphonse thought they’d just taken a quick trip to Hawaii.

    I could go on and on about the beautiful landscaped garden, but Fable is also about tasty California cuisine at an affordable price. For our brunch starter, my husband and I split a bottle of Kurtatsch Pinot Grigio white wine from Italy’s Alto Adige—dry, clean, and mineral-driven. But the restaurant also is famous for its blood orange margaritas, Bloody Marys, mimosas, white wine spritzers, and Palomas.

    For our mains, the Cobb salad was calling my name. Did you know that these garden greens are a California creation? According to Wikipedia, “(Numerous) stories recount how the salad was invented. One says that it came about in 1938 at Hollywood’s Brown Derby restaurant, where it became a signature dish. It is named after the restaurant’s owner, Robert Howard Cobb. Stories vary whether the salad was invented by Cobb or by his chef, Paul J. Posti. The legend is that Cobb had not eaten until near midnight, and so he mixed together leftovers he found in the kitchen, along with some bacon cooked by the line cook, and tossed it with their French dressing.”

    At Fable, the Cobb is a standout. Their version uses little gem lettuce with a champagne vinaigrette, cherry tomato, avocado, hard-boiled egg, bacon, red onion, and bleu cheese. I added grilled chicken, which came with a light pesto sauce. Everything was fresh and the portion was big enough for two. My husband Sean selected another winner—the fried Rocky Junior chicken sandwich, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Fable serves it on a torpedo roll with chipotle, savoy cabbage, and sweet pepper slaw. Accompanying the sandwich were delicious thick-cut French fries cooked to a crisp. The brunch menu also has traditional offerings like omelets, Eggs Benedict, chilaquiles, pancakes, and a good-looking burger. Also, a big shout-out to our knowledgeable and friendly server, Nipun, who expertly took great care of us.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that Fable is a favorite of my trusted editors/publishers, Betty Sullivan and Jennifer Viegas. Here’s what Jen had to say about a recent visit. “Betty and I enjoyed a business lunch at Fable yesterday. We both loved our dishes: tuna niçoise for her and the fish tacos for me. It was packed and it was good to see locals supporting the neighborhood restaurants. The beer-battered crispy rock cod tacos are made with house-made corn tortillas, which were delicious, and really brought this dish together. They were light and moist, with a smokiness from the comal grill marks. The beer batter on the fish also added a distinctive savory note that was well complemented by the slaw and natural spiciness from the crispy watermelon radish slices. The dish came with an ample serving of salad featuring sliced, sweet heirloom tomatoes, and a healthy mix of greens.”

    “The indoor/outdoor garden first drew Betty and me to this restaurant due to COVID concerns, and thinking of the welfare of our guests, too,” she added. “Going from the urban busyness of streets like Castro and Market and stepping into a tranquil garden setting with plants that improve air quality and mindset is like entering an oasis. Fable’s atmosphere is uplifting, with its greenery and water features, but the food alone would have us coming back. There are many unexpected touches that show the chef and team are striving for excellence with every dish, while also keeping the menu as affordable and approachable as possible.”

    Well said! (And I’m not just saying that because they’re my bosses!) Fable is magical, a delight for the eyes and senses, and most of all, a tasty tropical paradise.

    Bits and Bites

    I had the pleasure of meeting the other night with my good pal Kevin Blum (of The Marin Dish fame) at Tiburon’s gorgeous The Caprice. Dining on the water with the panoramic view of San Francisco Bay and Angel Island, the restaurant is a gem: the contemporary, upscale, beachy design makes me think “Malibu by the Bay.” From the moment you arrive, you’re greeted warmly by owner Jerry (who also owns The Stinking Rose in San Francisco). Kevin liked his tasty watermelon margarita, but I, of course, opted for their Negroni: perfectly balanced and a great way to start the meal.

    Since we were dining with friends, we decided to share. Braided fresh epi bread followed, along with a yummy, spicy tuna carpaccio with ponzu sauce, and then a homemade asparagus soup (with no cream, where you really taste the vegetable). Spicy Italian pot stickers also hit the spot as did the Caesar salad with a surprising pesto base. For our mains, we split a fresh-from-the-sea branzino in a lemon herb oil sauce. We ordered the creamed spinach (one of the Bay Area’s best) and cremini mushrooms as sides. Our vegetarian friends split haricot verts and an assortment of grilled vegetables that looked divine. Kevin, Sean, and I also tucked into the restaurant’s Omaha Angus ribeye steak, cooked perfectly and better tasting than many of the San Francisco steakhouses that specialize in beef. Blueberry pancakes and a dense, creamy cheesecake were the perfect cap to a glorious meal. Ask for Sean, our server: from start to finish, he choreographed the evening superbly. Put The Caprice on your go-to list: it’s only a 30-minute drive over the bridge, and a world away.

    As a trained pianist, this item sings to me: The Vault Steakhouse just debuted its new Piano Bar, a swanky venue to enjoy classic cocktails as well as the likes of Kyle Athayde, George Glover, and Cullen Luper tickling the ivories.

    Petite Left Bank, a spinoff of Roland Passot’s popular Left Bank brasserie chain, has just opened in downtown Tiburon, down the street from another Gay Gourmet favorite, Sam’s Anchor Café. Expect traditional French bistro fare, including: escargot en croute, roasted half chicken, and moules frites.

    Michelin-starred Marlena restaurant just re-opened at its original Bernal Heights location, and it’s a stunner. Gorgeous contemporary décor, but a deal at $65/person for a seasonal four-course tasting menu. The wife-and-husband chef team of Serena Chow Fisher and David Fisher continue to turn out some of the best meals in the city. Yours truly celebrated his birthday there recently (don’t ask how old!), and the “fig newton” with Osetra caviar and duck terrine was a knockout.

    Fable Restaurant:
    The Caprice:
    Piano Bar at the Vault Steakhouse:
    Petite Left Bank:

    David Landis, aka “The Gay Gourmet,” is a foodie, a freelance writer, and a retired PR maven. Follow him on Instagram @GayGourmetSF or email him at: Or visit him online at: