Visions of sugarplums danced in my head while lunching at Jardiniere today (and this had nothing to do with the fact that for three Fridays this month Jardiniere is serving a special pre-Nutcracker matinee meal) since just seconds after I was handed the menu I had already decided to indulge in their Bonne Bouche Dessert Platter, which offered darling fingernail-sized portions of their opera cake, tarts, cookies, truffles, etc.

On a cold, gray, drizzly afternoon there is no better place to come in out of the rain than Jardiniere’s warm, welcoming and ever so glamorous upstairs dining room. Soft lighting, cordial unhurried service with a menu that offers sophisticated twists to hearty winter lunch favorites (case in point: the tender Liberty Farms duck pastrami sandwich with whole grain mustard aioli and crunchy savoy cabbage slaw) had us so relaxed that we couldn’t believe that somehow our one hour lunch had mysteriously morphed into two.

Both of our starters, a gorgeous Chioggia Beet Salad with potatoes, wild arugula topped with a lightly cooked egg and a generous Duck Confit, Kumquat, endive and honey walnut salad were almost too pretty to eat and could have made a satisfying lunch on their own. But then you would miss out on the unbelievable light-as-a ballerina rabbit sausage, served alongside some slow-braised kale and creamy polenta–simply scrumptious!

Friday, 12/18, is the last lunch for the year, so pirouette right over for a delightful holiday meal even if you don’t have tickets for Nutcracker… I won’t tell.

Jardiniere Restaurant
(415) 861-5555
300 Grove St, San Francisco, CA
For reservations call(415) 861-5555 or book on OpenTable.