While Big 4 Restaurant has game a-plenty to cook and serve during the year, this is their special week to shine. Like the Mardi Gras of game meats ready to party with you. The dishes are dear (in price), but I had their saddle of black buck antelope and it was phenomenal. [See my previous dish review.] And there’s Rocky Mountain Wapiti (elk); Sika Deer (Broken Arrow Ranch); and even Llama Rib Eye (Robert’s Ranch, Nebraska).
You can even start off with a little piranha…how often do you get to eat that? (Before it eats you, random Amazon-wanderer?)
Carnivores of all persuasions, get to Big 4 this week, amid your journeys into SF Cocktail Week bar events.
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
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