Hotel front desk operator: “Hello, how may I help you?”

Me: “Hi, can you give me the number for Sliding Doors? There’s no phone book in the room.”

Him: “I’m sorry?”

Me: “Sliding Doors. The restaurant?”

Him: “Oh…. I think Sliding Doors is a movie with Gwyneth Paltrow. Do you mean Slanted Door?”

Me: “Oh right. Uh, yes, please.”

I had Thursday evening all planned out. Jason had an event at his conference, so I was going to wander down to the Ferry Building and enjoy happy hour at Hog Island Oyster Company. Their site advertises $1 oysters and $3.50 beers between 5 and 7 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.

I had considered Slanted Door, a modern Vietnamese restaurant, which is also in the Ferry Building, but I couldn’t get a reservation and was a little hesitant about eating at what appeared to be a large resto by myself.

So I opted for the smaller, and more casual Hog Island, which farms their own oysters in Tomales Bay, northwest of San Francisco. I figured since I was solo, it wouldn’t be hard to nab a bar seat. Boy, was I wrong.

Hog Island Oyster Co., San Francisco

This tiny place was packed. The waiting list at 6 p.m. was three pages long. And even solo, forget it. The numbers just weren’t playing out for me. Every time it looked like an odd chair was opening up at the bar, a party of three would be up next.

After an hour of fruitless waiting, I walked out of Hog Island and into The Slanted Door — where I slid into seat at the bar.

The restaurant is huge but divided into a dining room with windows facing the water on one side, and a bar/lounge area on the other.

The bar service was just amazing: courteous and genuine and never, ever rushed, even as the pack of people behind me grew throughout the night. I appreciated it not only as a visitor, but especially as a woman eating alone.

Slanted Door, San FrancisoI was lucky enough to find myself next to another solo diner, who lives in San Francisco, to chat with. She even let me taste some of the chicken clay pot she was eating because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to order it.

I did know I wanted some oysters! I got a half dozen ($15) of Drake’s Bay from California and Hama Hama from Washington.

The Drake’s Bay were small and mineraly; the Hama Hama much meatier and briney, which I prefer. They weren’t as good as the ones I’ve had from New Brunswick — which is probably why the other oysters on the menu were from there and B.C.

Slanted Door, San Franciso

I did end up getting the chicken claypot ($16), a piping hot concoction that gets a sweet kick from a caramel sauce with chilies and fresh ginger, and a side of jasmine rice ($2).

I started with a glass of 2007 Avinyo Penedès Vi D’Agulla ($7) muscat, but the bartender suggested a glass of 2006 François Pinon Vouvray Cuvée Tradition ($8) — which actually wasn’t listed as available per glass — to offset the sweetness of my dinner.

Spoiled by inexpensive, delicious Vietnamese food in Canada, I wasn’t sure how much I would embrace the cuisine’s higher-end cousin. Well, the people behind the Slanted Door know what they’re doing; the place is hopping, and I thoroughly enjoyed my evening through these doors.

The Slanted Door, 1 Ferry Building #3, San Francisco, (415) 861-8032. Reservation info here.
Hog Island Oyster Company, 1 Ferry Building #11-1, San Francisco, (415) 391-7117. Website here.