SADDLE of BLACK BUCK ANTELOPE
BIG 4 RESTAURANT
The Dish: Antelope (Saddle of Black Buck Antelope)
One of the most incredible meals I’ve had in the past year, without question, and probably as good as any meat dishes I have eaten in the past five years. Both times I’ve eaten antelope previously were in Colorado restaurants, so antelope was my de facto choice from the menu of Big 4, which specializes in wild game. The antelope saddle was a perfect medium-rare, and sat upon a small mound of butternut squash puree. Two late fall fruits—a caramelized pear blintz and a generous portion of huckleberry gastrique—were perfect, semi-sweet complements to the meat, and a tossing of crispy plantain chips rode high atop the saddle. The variety of texture (crunchy, chewy, smooth, and juicy) made every bite a palate dazzler. The portion of antelope was appropriate: large enough to graciously satiate.
Caveat emptor: May be available only seasonally.
The Vibe: Big 4 restaurant
Old-school, formal, and opulent in a particularly American manner. Big 4 Restaurant is more of an expense account place, a place for special occasions, a place where you go when you don’t care how much it costs. The service is professional but amiable. All the old carved wood and antique socio-political ephemera along the rear dining room walls make one feel like Teddy Roosevelt could bustle in and drink whiskeys with you at any moment. You can’t create that type of atmosphere; certain places just carry their history in a way that permeates your experience there. And Big 4 is also likely to attract white-haired men with blonde-haired damsels/table candy for discreet meals, and groups of financiers/lawyers to imbibe whatever’s expensive (power lunch, power dinner). The good news is that Big 4 successfully shoulders its heavy hype. My dish was certainly stellar, and I do recommend it highly for the aforementioned occasion/s when money is not an object. Like, for the perfect instance, when someone else is nabbing the bill.
The Grade: Astounding (unforgettable, awesome) 5 out of 5
The Damage: $38
The Skinny: Big 4 Restaurant in the Huntington Hotel
1075 California St (between Mason / Taylor), San Francisco CA
Executive Chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls
Phone: (415) 474-5400; (415) 771-1140