San Franciso The Stinking Rose

The Stinking Rose Restaurant in San Francisco.

Something stinks at San Francisco’s The Stinking Rose restaurant and it’s not the garlic.

Located in the Italian neighborhood of North Beach, this dining establishment is known for its quirky decor and garlic-infused menu.

After visiting San Francisco several times as a tourist, it was time to finally experience this restaurant as a Nor-Cal resident. Surprisingly, our family of four was seated fast for a Friday night. That should have been a clue.

Hanging from the ceiling are strings of garland fashioned from … you guessed it, garlic. We were seated in a section upstairs and toward the back of the restaurant.

Wall murals of cartooned garlic cloves frolicking about San Francisco created a fun atmosphere, and strings of colorful lanterns added to the festive feel.

The menu does not include any kids’ entrees in spite of all the smaller diners packed into the place. We opted for a pepperoni pizza from the appetizer menu for the kids, since the starting price for pasta was $14.95.

The pizza appetizer was bland so the kids liked it, but it was hardly worth the wait. And speaking of wait, our server never turned in our order for Bagna Calda (garlic soaking in a hot tub –a clever name for garlic cloves saturated in extra-virgin olive oil, and loaded to the clove with butter, served in a baby cast-iron skillet).

After an hour of being forgotten by our server, some so-so wine, overpriced pizza and complimentary dinner rolls it was time to throw in the napkin. Overpriced menu items and bad service? Check, please!

For the record, I did share my experience with the general manager of The Stinking Rose, Jeff Borders. He was very apologetic and invited my family to return. I could be tempted, if only to try the garlic martini and garlic ice cream.