Excellent | Worth a Detour
Sears Fine Foods
Review by: Michael Stern
For decades now, Sears has served one of San Francisco’s defining meals: eighteen ethereal Swedish pancakes with plenty of whipped butter and warm maple syrup and (optional) lingonberries.
The little pancakes are incredibly popular – the kitchen says it makes 11,000 every day – but Sears French toast deserves attention, too. It is made of sourdough bread, soaked in eggs and cream until the texture verges on that of junket, but retains a vague bready chew and the tang of ancient yeast, delectably complemented by Sears’ strawberry preserves.
And there is more: excellent smoked ham or sausage for side dishes and truly fresh fruit cup for hors d’oeuvre. There are pecan waffles; banana nut bread; big baked apples; Swedish coffee cake; and omelets with crisp hash brown potatoes. In addition, there are square-meals lunches and some fine desserts including strawberry shortcake and an autumn-only apple dumpling to die for. But it’s breakfast that has been Sears’ glory since 1938, and the reason people line up on Powell Street every morning well before the place opens at seven.
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch|
|Credit Cards Accepted||No|
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What To Eat
Sears Fine Foods Recipes
What do you think of Sears Fine Foods?
2 Responses to “Sears Fine Foods”
January 28th, 2008
I stopped at Sears on my trip to San Francisco based both on its mention here and its proximity to my hotel; it wasn’t much more than a five minute walk.
I had in mind to try the French toast the first day and the pancakes the next morning; I never went back for the pancakes. The French toast was OK, just OK. Glad it came with the strawberry topping; it was otherwise without much taste. Texture-wise, it seemed undercooked: no crispness to the outside, and mushy on the inside. If this was made from sourdough, its origins aren’t apparent. It could have been from mass-market white bread. Maybe I should have gone for the pancakes, but I’m a French toast fan. The strawberry topping was fine, if unexceptional: basically sweetened strawberry pulp.
Finding a far better breakfast at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe, I chatted with my accidental tablemate, who grew up in SF. She said that Sears was once better, but has lived on through a reputation rather than continued quality. I cannot testify to that after just one meal; after all, most places have an off-day. But the experience wasn’t promising enough for me to try a return trip. Perhaps the lack of a crowd was a sign: I was there for a pretty prime breakfast period, but there were plenty of open seats.
January 10th, 2006
You know you’re a Roadfood fanatic when you arrive in San Francisco, one of the most sophisticated cities in the world, and the thing that excites you the most is when you find out that Sears’ Fine Foods is only two blocks from your hotel. Naturally, breakfast there was the first order of business the next morning.
Sears’ decor will put one in mind of an old New York deli, with its black-and-white tile floor and old LP covers from the forties, fifties and sixties posted on the wall. And, of course, we had to order the Swedish pancakes. A note here – as a rule, I rarely order pancakes when going out for breakfast, but Jane and Michael rarely steer me wrong so I took the plunge. It was well worth it. The pancakes were light and buttery little morsels. Topped with lingonberry sauce (round red berries that taste kind of like strawberries) and butter, they were absolutely heavenly. With some of the best breakfast sausage I’ve had, it was a delicious combination; filling, but not the gut bombs that pancakes can be (at least with me). When the waitress overheard me mention that the french toast was supposed to be great here as well, she brought out a slice for my husband and me to try. While it tasted great with a nice kick of cinnamon, the texture was just a little too mushy for my taste, although my husband loved it. Service was fast and friendly, not officious.
Sears’ pancakes are so popular they’re even on the dinner menu. And we must have lucked out – we went on the Sunday morning before Labor Day and walked right in. Every other morning, there was a line going halfway down the block. If you’re willing to wait, Sears is a rewarding dining experience.