Neptune’s on Pier 39 might be the first seafood restaurant in the tourist magnet to flaunt a 100 percent sustainable menu.
In a metropolis nationally recognized for its “green” practices, hundreds of restaurant menus have for years offered organic beef or chicken and several other natural food options. However, since sustainable seafood menus must take into consideration so many other variables — the variety of fish, how it’s caught, where it’s from — the restaurants that dominate the Fisherman’s Wharf have to play catch-up to compete in the sustainable game.
“[Fish] just aren’t as cuddly,” said Carrie Chen, director of the Aquarium of the Bay, who teaches restaurants how to shrink their carbon footprint. “You know, dolphins have that charismatic character … everyone knows about dolphin-safe tuna now.”
But Chen said if restaurants keep buying from big-name companies that catch their prey with nets instead of the traditional fish-line and hook, foreign diseases eventually spread to local water and in 40 years the fish could be wiped out.
The arguments were enough to convince Pier restaurants LLP, which owns Neptune’s, its catering company and Sea Lion’s Café next to it, to move towards a more sustainable model.
“Initially this is costing money and it’s an investment. I’d say about a 3 to 4 percent increase in our food costs,” said Pier Director Anthony Parks. “But the Sea Lion’s Café is next up. And as far as redoing the menu our plan is throughout the company to be sustainable for first quarter or 2011.”
The City requires that all restaurants recycle, compost and use compostable food service ware, but it does not have any laws that mandate sustainable food.
And the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, representing more than 800 members across the Bay Area, thinks it should stay that way.
“I think it should be up to the owners, personally,” said GGRA Executive Director Kevin Westlye. “But I would definitely suggest they be as sustainable as they can be.”
Parks said Neptune’s is also pursuing other sustainable features such as wine on tap that eliminates waste from glass bottles, alternative energy and its own water treatment plan to reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible.
Seafood restaurants in The City with 100 percent sustainable menus:
Cook! San Francisco
Hog Island Oyster Company
Lark Creek Steak
Tataki Sushi & Sake Bar
The Moss Room
Source: San Francisco Seafood Watch Alliance