**Sometimes wishes do come true!! This place has mercifully been closed down and the pier itself has been demolished, double the bonus for such terrible food and unsightly building that now it is all just a distant bad memory**
Ahhh....institutions....they are what gives a town charm and character and can be a great draw for tourists and locals alike. But at what point does an institution lose it's kitschy charm and character and become just a sad shell of it's former self needing to be put out of its misery? Let's find out shall we.....Sinbad's Restaurant has been a fixture on the San Francisco waterfront from some 35 years. Located at Pier 2, it has the advantage of built in crowds of tourists who come down to visit the historic Ferry Building. So it was one Sunday when me and the SO were heading down there to grab a quick bite. As we were passing Sinbad's he says "hey let's go." I said "I've never been, but I've heard nothing but bad things about it." "C'mon," he says, "it will be fun and you can write all about it." "Fine," I say, "but you're paying." And that brought us to here.
Yes, there is an actual statue of Sinbad the Pirate when you walk in, along with loads of dark paneling.
We are seated in what looks like a dining hall that was decorated in the 70's and never changed. More dark paneling and tinted glass ceiling. The hanging plants are all fake, which we discovered when dust kept falling onto our table. One thing they have going for them is it is a relatively decent view of the Bay and Bay Bridge, alas that is pretty much all it really has to offer. After perusing the pricey menu for awhile our waiter finally arrives at our table and what can I say--he looked like he was somewhere between the age of 30-50 and either spent the morning surfing or just rolled out of bed, smoked a joint and came in to work in the same uniform he's been wearing for 3 (maybe 4) straight shifts. His shirt, apron and black pants had stains over them that looked not only crusted over but baked in. Look, I've worked in enough restaurants over the years to know it's hard not to get some schmutz on your clothes, but seriously these stood out, both on the front and the back. Trying to look past that we decided to order the fresh crab cakes as an appetizer.
Notice the drops of oil on the plate? That should tell you all you need to know about this $17.50 appetizer. They weren't awful, awful but they weren't great, great either. The decent--you could taste and see the crab at least. The bad--they were to oily, the crab was a littler overcooked, they wasn't a nice crunchy crust on the outside, it was all a bit mushy. And the sauce I'm still not sure what exactly it was, I tasted some butter and a little cream but not much else as it really didn't have any seasoning, but then the crab cakes had no seasoning either. I'm just going to guess it was hollandaise but don't quote me on that.
After we finished the app we flagged down the waiter to place our entree order. I told him I wanted the deep fried prawns with vegetables and french fries. He sort of stared at his pad then said, "what sides do you want with that?" I repeated--vegetables and french fries. Then he said,"okay, do you also want fries?" Um, yes, I said for the third time. He seemed to stand there a bit to take it all in then turned and left. About 25 minutes later, here's what I got for $24.75.
The very dark brown things you see are the prawns and yes they were overcooked or over-deep fried, either way the shrimp were a bit tough and shrimp shouldn't need a knife and fork to eat. They tasted exactly like you'd think they'd tasted if you had something deep fried in oil that hadn't been changed in a while. Even dipping them in the room temperature tartar sauce (which I had to ask twice for) didn't help their flavor, they just tasted burnt. The fries had no salt or seasoning whatsoever on them and were also at room temperature. The vegetables at least had some color if little else, again no seasoning--no salt, no pepper, no nothing. They were also undercooked. I like my veggies with a little crisp to them but seriously, you need to at least attempt some kind of sautee. These just seemed like they were blanched in water then plopped on the plate. And the black smudges you see on the plate were also fresh from the kitchen--where is Anne Burrell when you need her--this would so not fly if she was around. Ugh...this was just....not good.
The SO decided to get the fresh charbroiled swordfish provencale for $30.25. Oh if only it looked or even tasted as good as the link. I purposely didn't take a picture of his plate because I just couldn't. The swordfish had criss-crossed grill marks on it but it was also grey--yes grey, overcooked and tough. Plus the pureed vegetable thing they poured over the fish looked exactly like someone had thrown up on the fish. Grey fish and vomit--picture it--remember it--even worse than not good.
By this time the SO was pretty much over the whole experience. I glanced around the place to survey the clientele and it was a mostly older crowd who probably have been coming here since it first opened and it seems they have de-seasoned, de-flavored and dumbed down the food to conform to the pallets of the elderly. Though there was one 40 something (?) woman at a table in front of us who was slurring to her friends how she loved this place and had been coming here 10 years all while fall out of here chair exposing her thong riding up her back in her 2 sizes too small jeans.
Sadly, it also seems our waiter has completely disappeared and with the SO ready to go we just got up and went to the register up front to just pay and leave. He was so fed up he didn't want to argue about any of it, he just wanted to go.
I am flat out going to say to everyone out there to not go to Sinbad's, it isn't worth. The food is not good and the prices are way too high. If every there was a tourist trap in this town it is this place. It's sad that people still get sucked in--fooled into going just because of where it is located. I implore you not to go. If you want good seafood on the waterfront all you have to do is walk down another block to the big arrow statue and go to Waterbar. The views are better, the prices are pretty much the same but the quality of the food and service you will get are miles away better than you will ever get at Sinbad's.
And this just brings me back to when an "institution" has past its point of usefulness--Sinbad's has arrived, actually I think it's been there for a few years now. Outside of a complete tear down and overhaul I don't believe it's going to change for the better and thus if you still choose to go it is at your own risk. The food isn't good and the former kitsch factor is now just sad. I feel bad for every tourist that gets sucked into going here and the bad taste it could give them of our city. Locals, however, should now know better. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!