Huffpost Travel

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Pam Grout Headshot

Extreme Eating at San Francisco's Huntington Hotel

Posted: Updated:

Himalayan yak, Brazilian piranha, sausage made from rattlesnake and even wild lion are just a few of the items you'll find on the menu at The Big 4 restaurant at San Francisco's Huntington Hotel. That is, if you get there between November 9 to 13 when long-time executive chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls throws her annual Wild Game Week.

For the past 19 years, Ciccarone-Nehls has concocted this "extreme" menu that sells out the Huntington's old-school restaurant weeks in advance. Over the years, she has tried everything from leg of bear (it took all day and produced too much grease) to beaver tail (also not something she'd try again). Rest assured, this sassy chef stays away from all things endangered.

Ciccarone-Nehls' venison chili, topped with onion rings, is on the Big 4's bar menu 365 days a year, a tantalizing nosh to complement the bar's signature cocktails, mixed up by Ty Sanders, arguably San Francisco's most famous bartender.

His Huntington Hush, made with Tusca, an Italian vanilla citrus-flavored liqueur and topped with whipped cream and nutmeg, is legendary, the perfect next-to-the-fireplace nightcap for enjoying the Big 4's piano bar.

Another famous bartender, Ted Danson from Cheers, has been known to stay at the Huntington, a family-owned boutique hotel that sits at the top of Nob Hill, bastion of San Francisco's upper crust. This historic hotel was also a favorite of Cary Grant, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart.

It has an award-winning spa (an infinity pool, rose petals strewn across iced washcloths and a eucalyptus sauna, to name a few special touches), front door cable car lines and so much old world charm that Travel + Leisure regularly lists it among the world's top hotels.

As for the wild game, here's a tip from Ciccarone-Nehls: when smoking African antelope, rub it down first with cocoa, coffee and spices.

Click here for more info on this family-run hotel, member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.