In my world, a great dining experience must have three components: company, atmosphere, and food. Recently, stranded for a lonely weekend in the Bay Area, I was hungry for some lunch. I drove around the San Fran airport area and found little that seemed appealing. By chance, I drove past a restaurant that looked like a ship and a sign that said “The Sherman”. Already having driven around for a half hour, I decided this was the place. As I parked in the expansive parking lot, I realized that this place just didn’t look like a ship, it was a ship. As a matter of fact, it is an old steamer that was originally build in 1922 and now is the “The Sherman”.
I entered the ship, and the restaurant looked deserted except for a bachelorette/bridal shower party that was occurring. I asked the receptionist if they were closed for a private party, but she assured me they were now serving lunch. She took me up a glass staircase to the empty second floor, where you have unbelievable views of the San Francisco Bay and the SFO airport.
I took a table by the bow of the boat and settled in to enjoy the view. A helpful wait staff (I was the only lunch customer so I got the royal treatment of three servers), scurried over and delivered warm bread, water, and a asked for a drink order. I stuck with the water and looked through the lunch menu.
The lunch menu only had about 4 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 sandwiches, and a few entrees as choices (fairly light on the options). One appetizer caught my eye, the “Mango Crab Tower”, and when my waiter stopped back I told him I was having that and a soup, salad, sandwich combo: the salad was a Caesar (which I got with extra anchovies), the salad was a tomato-corn bisque, and the sandwich was ham and cheese.
While I waited for the food, I turned and tried to soak up the amazing view. It was a picture perfect, 90 degree day, and the bay was full of sailors. That made me think about the history of the ship I was in: it had been a military transport ship, a cruise ship and a showboat.
The food arrived in short order. The “Mango Crab Tower” was a wonderfully presented dish with an orange-colored mango sauce surrounding a layered tower of mango, avocado, and dungeness crab. Unfortunately, the presentation was the best part. The sauce lacked flavoring, and the tower was bland. This blah theme continued with the ham and cheese sandwich, which was deli ham and cheese on mediocre sourdough bread. Sadly, the bisque was flavorless, almost not worth mentioning in this review. The Caesar salad, on the other hand, was a delight, consisting of a light dressing with wonderfully crisp romaine lettuce and fresh whole California anchovies.
After the meal I paused to get one last look at the view. This meal did not hit a home run for all three of my elements, but I still think it is worth a visit again when I have a companion. Given the mediocre food experience, you know the atmosphere is just that good.