The Stinking Rose: A garlic-lover’s mecca
Garlic is said to be one of the most valuable and versatile foods on the planet. It is known to promote good health and well-being of the heart and your immune system. Whether raw or roasted, garlic can add tremendous flavor to a dish and quickly turn it from good to fantastic.
Garlic lovers have their own little ‘mecca’ in San Francisco at what is known as The Stinking Rose. With two locations (one in North Beach and the other in Beverly Hills), the restaurant offers a garlic feast with dishes utilizing the ‘stinky’ rose-shaped flavor bomb. Dishes include a selection of appetizers, hot seafood with roasted garlic served in Sizzling Iron Skillets, Dungeness Killer Crab with secret garlic sauce, and several entrée favorites and pasta dishes.
The Stinking Rose is located on Columbus Avenue and is hard to miss. The restaurant’s front windows offer a great view into some of the main dining areas and shows off the space’s quirky garlic-themed décor.
At last count, over 2,635 bulbs of garlic are strung across the ceiling and hung in nearly every nook and cranny. No matter which dining room you are seated in, you’ll have plenty to look at as the walls show off garlic-themed characters and whimsical trinkets that is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.
Though the restaurant boasts that they “season their garlic with food,” no dish I tried was overwhelmingly pungent – and that’s a good thing. The restaurant serves over 3,000 pounds of garlic each month, but they incorporate it into their dishes thoughtfully. It isn’t meant to scare anyone away (well… expect for those vampires!).
I visited The Stinking Rose one evening for an early dinner, excited to try some of their garlicky creations. Upon arrival, we received a basket of their complimentary house-made bread to pair with their Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the restaurant’s house-made garlic ‘relish’.
Our server, Francisco (how appropriate, right?), was very friendly and attentive throughout our meal. While I perused the menu, I sipped on a Proseccco Stellina (priced at $8.95 by the glass) and eyed the “Bagna Calda” Garlic Soaking in a Hot Tub appetizer.
Served hot at your table in an iron skillet, the Bagna Calda is simply oven-roasted garlic cloves bathing in extra virgin olive oil and butter with a hint of anchovy. I loved the bit of anchovy that came through as it was spread on their house-baked bread. Because the cloves have been roasted for some time, the dish had a sweetness to it and wasn’t overly garlicky or offensive.
For the entrée, I was torn between the Garlic Braised Boneless Short Rib and the Garlic Encrusted Baby Back Ribs. I ultimately chose the short rib, though now I wish I would have ordered both!
The Garlic Braised Short Rib ($19.95) was incredibly tender and full of mouthwatering flavor. Before it even appeared before my eyes, I could smell it making its way from the kitchen to my table and knew I had decided well. The entrée is served with creamed spinach and incredibly rich, thick, garlic Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. A bite of potatoes coupled with a slice of short rib and a dip of its salty jus was the perfect indulgent bite.
My companion chose a dish from their pasta selections – the Gnocchetti ($17.95), baby gnocchi tossed with tangy garlic gorgonzola, asparagus and toasted pine nuts.
While we finished our entrees, I over-heard other guests raving about the restaurant’s Garlic Ice Cream. Sounds a little intimidating, right? Francisco assured me that it wasn’t overly garlicky, but that it had just enough of a ‘punch’ to let you know it’s there. With his encouragement, we decided to give it a whirl.
It looks harmless, doesn’t it? Though the short rib was mouthwateringly good, my favorite take-away from The Stinking Rose was this ice cream. At first bite, it just tastes like a super-rich, creamy vanilla and then the zing of the roasted garlic creeps in. I can say with all honestly that I truly enjoyed it. The garlic is definitely present, but incorporated so well that the classic dessert doesn’t lose its integrity. I only wish I had a scoop in front of me now!
Overall, I’d recommend The Stinking Rose for the experience, especially if you’re a garlic fan. The restaurant is quite unique and would be a great spot to bring the whole family or challenge your friends to brave the Garlic Ice Cream. You have to do The Stinking Rose at least once!
To learn more about the restaurant, visit thestinkingrose.com.
The Stinking Rose | 325 Columbus Avenue | San Francisco, CA | 94133 | 415-781-7673