Saturday, October 06, 2007


Just in case anyone who actually knows us out there is getting worried about how few restaurants have actually made an appearance on this wee opus, I thought that I would reassure you: we eat out about once a week, but the F-G here is just waaaaaaaaaay too interested in his job or something to blog them consistently. Plus, it's been summer in California, which means the freshy-freshiest stuff is usually in our kitchen and we've been whippin' it up at home more often than not.

However, for easy reference (and because I reeeeeeaaaaaaallllllyyyy don't want to start on the revisions to my qualifying exam papers, here is a list of places we've eaten recently that haven't had their alotted spotlight:

Zuni Cafe (no, you should definitely not concern yourself with anything but the chicken; it's all I've had there and I feel quite comfortable saying this...)
Home (the restaurant, not ours)
Ame (the front runner for my new favorite restaurant in SF)
Chouchou (brunch, although we have been there for dinner)

That said, I could basically live on panzanella with mixed cherry tomatoes, sauteed spinach, and smashed red potatoes...which, when you figure we've had at least 2 of those things at least weekly for some time now, explains why the restaurant-ivanting has been a little slow of late.

Must stop now; K's Kitchen in all it's joyfulness awaits!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

K's Kitchen

Sometimes it pays to be a good neighbor. While I was running about the little stretch of Monterey Boulevard a couple of blocks down the hill to drop off dry cleaning and pick up a few groceries, I passed the storefront of what used to be a Thai restaurant and is now a Japanese/Sushi restaurant called K’s Kitchen. I peered in the window because that’s what I do when I walk past a restaurant, especially if I’m not sure it’s open yet, and then kept walking. The owner, though, saw me and came and unlocked the door. So I walked back over and we chatted for a couple of minutes. They’ve only been open since Wednesday night and they haven’t advertised yet because they’re mostly doing a shake-down to make sure they have the menu working, not to mention the water and electricity and all of those nice things to have in a restaurant.

I came home and told the Food Gal that the new sushi bar was open and looked good and the owner was nice and maybe we should go eat there tonight (last night, that is). We both did a little back and forth on the upside/downside of going to a sushi bar on its 4th night of operation but figured that the only possible down side was selection of fish and/or a bad sushi chef at which point we could bail. Turns out there’s no downside.

Unless you count the fact that we now have a first rate sushi bar 2 blocks from home and we still have to have enough money to pay rent every month. But we’re not counting that.

K’s is, from what we can tell, owned and run by the two chefs: Ken (sushi) and Keith (kitchen/cooked food). They’re both as nice as can be and both pretty talented judging based on what we ate last night. We can say that with a lot more surety about Ken (since we ate pretty much everything he had to offer) than Keith so far (I ate one cooked item, but it was good enough that I’m willing to eat more cooked items even with the excellent sushi available). Even on their 4th night they had whole fresh Aji, which was delicious, and some excellent Suzuki. We also had some really nice maguro, albacore, escolar, salmon, scallop (not live, again – 4th night), and a good dish they call “killer hamachi” which consisted of hamachi sashimi with thin slices of jalapeno and olive oil. We also ate and were a bit shocked to really enjoy Saba and Tako which we’ve eaten in many places but never really liked and so almost always skip. Both were more tender, more moist and more flavorful than previous versions we’ve had. Ken explained that he buys smaller Tako which is more tender and Saba that is marinated for shorter periods of time than most. Coupled with the quality of the rest of the fish it became clear that Ken knows how to choose his products. The rice was also excellent, it still had a bit of tooth to it and the vinegar was present but not overwhelming.

In terms of the most common fish (those standards that every sushi bar seems to have) this was the best set we’ve had in San Francisco. Places like Koo and Ebisu have had more exotic items but their core items weren’t quite as good as this fish was across the board. The rice was also excellent, it still had a bit of tooth to it and the vinegar was present but not overwhelming. We hope that K’s will carry those more exotic items as their business gets rolling (and Ken said they will).

Their list of rolls looked interesting, though we didn’t order any last night (we don’t usually, but the list was such that we might give a few a try down the road). The sake list is good and very well priced.

The place is good enough that I had to convince myself it is better to write about it than to keep it to ourselves. We’ll be back quite soon.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Chenery Park...again

Back we went to Chenery Park because the Food Gal was sitting in my office (now complete with actual functioning door) and we were both quite tired and trying to figure out what we’d be having for dinner and it was a Tuesday and she remembered (because she’s just that smart) that it was fried chicken night at Chenery Park. 2 or 3 clicks on Open Table and poof we have a reservation.

We had a new server (by new I mean new to the restaurant…and we’re pretty sure we’ve been conferred ‘regular’ status because the manager/owner told us we had a new server after mentioning how many times we’ve eaten at their restaurant)… so the service was slightly off, but the food was right on. The drinks took a little explaining...I ordered the same thing - whatever it's called- that I got at Range a week later (yes, I'm blogging out of order). It was pretty good. The Food Gal had a very strong Kir Royale. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

On with the food: Heirloom tomato plate for me to start while the Food Gal had a romaine salad with “garlicky” dressing. Yeah, I’m not sure why it’s not a Caesar either. Either way, both were tasty.

I got the fried chicken (no slaw but with a side of fries) which also came with mashed potatoes and gravy and created a very nice plate of food for me. I think there were some greens under the chicken somewhere, but I couldn’t swear to it. The Food Gal had their very nice fried catfish and once we tracked down some Tabasco we mowed through it all pretty well.

As always, we got dessert. I had a root beer float (I love that they have these) and the Food Gal had the warm chocolate cake that she inexplicably didn’t see on the menu and I had to ask if she was getting it. I was worried about her for a moment.

Overall, once again, this place consistently delivers gracious service and good food at good prices. We’ll be back again soon.

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Food Gal: For the 1,000th time....

It's a LONE Tree, not a Long Tree, or a Lone Star, or an Only Tree or any other amalgamation of words that seem to have anything to do with one and/or foliage.

Apologies to the original authors of the Savoy Cocktail Book, whoever they may be, for my dearest's apparent inability to file away the correct name of this concoction--despite the fact that he clearly enjoys them thoroughly and has now taught at least 2 bartenders how to make 'em.


I had been thinking that I needed to get over my preference for doing things that don’t require speaking to other people. I love ordering pizza online, for example. I like shopping at Amazon. I use Open Table a lot for restaurant reservations. Many of the restaurants at which the Food Gal and I wish to eat in San Francisco are on Open Table so it works out pretty well. Not all of those restaurants are on the service, though. Quince is not (though that’s probably a good thing or we’d have had to sell the car by now). Range was not. Thus my pondering whether I needed to get over my previously stated preference and start actually calling restaurants for reservations again. Alas, Range just joined up. Therefore, off we went last night to Range having made the reservation online at about midnight some night last week while speaking to absolutely no one. Except for Quince, I can continue my reclusive ways.

It would have been worth calling and actually talking to someone. We had a lovely meal. Truly, the only hiccup was that our starters actually beat the cocktails to the table because we ordered them all at the same time and the starters were both room temperature dishes. The waitress apologized that the food had beat the drinks to the table. We could only nod our acceptance of the apology since we were both already thoroughly enjoying our appetizers and not really worrying too much about what arrived when.

The cocktails were quite good; the Food Gal had a “Limelight” which uses Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka and champagne to excellent effect. I had a “Long Tree” which is a drink the Food Gal has been mixing for me at home and that no bartender in town has heard of yet (we’re working on that) and has equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and dry vermouth with a dash of orange bitters. The bartender at Range knows what he or she is doing. The wine list looked OK, but mid-week the Food Gal and I look almost exclusively to half-bottles and they were scarce. Fortunately, a couple of very nice by the glass choices (an Ottiminio Russian River Valley Zinfandel for the Food Gal and a Beckman Santa Ynez blend for me) rendered that fact moot.

Back to the food: Heirloom tomatoes with ricotta and cucumbers for the Food Gal (yes, everyone has heirloom tomatoes on the menu right now…and yes, we order them everywhere and so should you, at least until the end of September) was everything it should be which included delicious; Chicken liver mousse for me: it was rich, slightly gamey and aggressively seasoned (a hallmark of this kitchen we decided and a pleasurable change from a lot of restaurant food these days which seems oddly restrained when it comes to salt and pepper).

For the entrees: they were very nice and swapped out a side from their duck dish that had pork in it for some very nice looking white beans on offer with another entrée for the Food Gal. The duck in question was a breast that had been poached in rendered duck fat. It had a really interesting texture and spectacular flavor. I ordered the roast chicken, mostly to compare with the Zuni Café version; it was quite good though I prefer the Zuni Café chicken as I found the Range breast to be ever so slightly dry and the dark meat wasn’t quite as flavorful as at Zuni Café. If I had never eaten at Zuni Café, I would probably be writing about how this is the finest roast chicken I’ve eaten (although I did make some killer roast chicken breasts a couple of weeks ago…) …and I wouldn’t want to live on the difference between the two.

The desserts were really something special. A spot on bittersweet chocolate soufflé for the Food Gal was the very thing itself. Like some Aristotelian objective truth but in baked chocolate form. I got a roasted Concord grape and peanut butter “dumpling” which was tasty and playful and grown up all at the same time. I was worried it might be cloyingly sweet, but it was well balanced and the grape flavor was intense.

The service was good, the atmosphere was really nice (we had a spectacular table in the corner in the back room) and we just thoroughly liked the place in all respects. We'll be back directly.


Saturday, July 07, 2007


Tonight we went to Eureka, which we'd been wanting to do for a while. Its owned by the same people who own Chenery Park (which, as you can see below, we love dearly). Unfortunately, that's pretty much where the similarities between the two restaurants end. We'd heard that Eureka was "like Chenery Park but a bit more upscale." Accordingly, we dressed up a bit and thought we were headed for a slightly swanky evening. The decor was clearly someone's idea of upscale but it just wasn't. The room we were in was cramped and all of the two tops were against the wall, which wasn't really so bad, just not very comfortable. In fact, that pretty well describes the whole place...not so bad, just not _fill in the blank_.

The service was middling at best. The drinks took a while to come which isn't so bad, but was noticeable. Our server never did the automatic and helpful "are there any questions about the menu?" thing. In a lot of cases that's unnecessary, but at Eureka they have several items like the "Eureka Caesar Salad" and the "Eureka Burger" such that one can't be entirely sure what's special or "Eureka" about them. Then, she answered the questions incorrectly or inaccurately, as you'll read below.

They couldn't make the Sazerac I ordered (and I've registered my willingness to forgive bartenders who don't try to make what they can't or don't know how) so that was ok, but the Manhattan I ordered instead wasn't very good. Too much dry vermouth, not any sweet vermouth that I could taste and I think no bitters. Fortunately, I ordered it with Knob Creek, so it was drinkable. The Food Gal's Amaretto Sour was (get ready for the refrain) OK, but a bit too sweet. Granted, a sweetish drink, but balance in cocktails is all. The Food Gal then got a glass of Sin Zin which she reported was tasty enough (but she didn't finish it and I was driving...draw what conclusions you will).

First, the good parts of the food. The Food Gal got the "Roasted Fig Salad" as a starter and Meyer Lemon Linguine with Shrimp for an entree. The "salad" wasn't really. There were greens on the plate but it was mostly two figs cut in half and roasted and some large croûtons with shavings of "queso" on top. Those were then drizzled with a reduced dressing or balasamic or some such thing. As the Food Gal said "it was fine, but I wanted salad, not bread." (I'll interject here that the bread they brought us was nice enough, but overly toasted all around and shattered upon trying to get it into manageable pieces.) The linguine looked OK and the Food Gal ate about two thirds of it...but the shrimp were miniscule. Serious corner cutting going on on that one.

I started with the Shrimp Cocktail (thinking it looked safe....nothing on the menu really stood out for either of us) but the shrimp were a combination of old, overcooked and mealy. They were topped with raw, sliced red onion and some seaweed salad pieces and served with two dipping sauces in the same bowl (which became once sauce very quickly). I ate about half of the shrimp and no one took note. I asked the server about the "Eureka Burger" and was told it was just a burger; "a straightforward burger?" I asked, "yes," she said. So I ordered away rare and when it came to the table it turned out that it had raw garlic, chives and herbs in it. I suppose that works for some, but for me (and especially rare) not so much. They took note of that since I took one bite and left it alone and they nicely took it off of the tab with no question.

We passed on dessert. We went down the street to Bi-Rite for ice cream, which after I recover from the huge honkin' piece of raw garlic I unwittingly ate, I'll eat and tell you all about.

We won't be back. We still love Chenery Park but not only was Eureka not "like Chenery Park but a bit more upscale" it wasn't like Chenery Park in any of the ways that matter: ambiance, service, drinks and food worth returning for.

Friday, June 22, 2007


We returned to Jardiniere for dinner to celebrate the Food Gal’s birthday. No I’m not telling you which one. (We also went to Las Vegas to celebrate the Food Gal’s birthday, but that’s a whole different story…short version, don’t; more to follow.)

This time, the Opera was in…so the place was jam-packed. Seriously, three deep at the bar packed. That was OK, though, because we just went right up to our table. Great spot on the railing overlooking the bar. The only downside was that we were right under a vent that was pumping out seriously cold air to keep up with all of the people packed into the restaurant. Once it thinned out a bit (about 20 minutes into our time there) the AC kicked off and we were comfortable the rest of the night. If it had kept blowing, I would have asked to move and I’m certain they’d have accommodated us.

We opened with cocktails given our wonderful experience the last time, I had a Pegu (gin, lime and Cointreau with two dashes of Angostura bitters) and the Food Gal had a “The Last Word” (gin, Maraska, Chartreuse and lime). The bartenders were just as good this time as last and we thoroughly enjoyed our drinks. I don’t mention enough the amazing bar scene in San Francisco. The restaurants and bartenders in this town take their drinks so seriously and construct them so carefully that it puts most other cities and towns I’ve been in or drunk in (ok, same thing) to shame. While we sipped the drinks, we discussed the options and decided against the tasting menu. We’d already basically figured that out before we got to the restaurant, but it was tempting and so we had to reconfirm. Instead, we went for the first course blitz. I don’t know about you, but I find (and the Food Gal emphatically agrees) that first courses on menus tend to be far more interesting that main courses. I think chefs feel freer to play and take some chances with smaller dishes at a lower price point. We often end up ordering many first courses and skipping the main course altogether. This was no exception.

We started the food portion of the evening with a couple of oysters each (the food portion not being strictly necessary...but we thought it polite). They had Kumamoto and Miyagi oysters and we had one of each each; a perfect way to start the meal. After a brief conversation with one of the two sommeliers they had working that night, I chose the Philippe Roty Marsannay "Champs Saint Etienne" 2004. We’ve been exploring “The Villages” region and this was an exceptional bottle. A Pinot Noir with more body than the ones I’m used to from the Pacific Northwest in the states. It did very nicely with the rest of our meal.

Next, I had the duck confit salad with candied kumquats; a very nicely balanced dish with plenty of sweetness, fattiness and salt. The Food Gal, though, chose even more wisely, opting for the warm bread salad with grilled baby artichokes. That was an amazing dish. An alchemical thing took place with the bread, the artichokes, the greens and the dressing and did what you hope for from food in such a restaurant…it became more than the sum of its parts.

For our next course, the Food Gal had the duck liver mousse; an impossibly airy mousse served with some spectacular bread and house made pickles. I liked it more than she did, but that was OK because she liked my foie gras terrine with Sauternes gelee and pickled apricots more than I did. Which is saying something because I was quite impressed with that dish. The gelee especially was lovely and really made the foie gras pop in terms of flavor.

For dessert, we had the Bonne Bouche platter that was brilliant with about ten or so different bite sized nibbles. They also had a peanut butter crème caramel, which was delicious. The decaf was excellent and super hot. Doesn’t hurt that they serve it from silver coffee pots tableside.

(We've been once before but I was negligent and haven't written about it yet...I'll post it shortly...ish.)


Friday, June 08, 2007

From the Food Gal...on gustatory karma

So I'm looking back through the history of my gourmand adventures over the last year, as documented here by my erstwhile diner-in-crime, and I noticed something: every time we have a less than satisfactory experience in a restaurant, something rummy happens thereafter.

Example 1: on the way home from the infamous Inn at Little Washington, a deer plowed into the side of our car. People laugh when we say a deer hit us, but that's exactly what happened--we saw it, the F-G took evasive action, and the darn thing rammed the driver's side doors anyhow.

Example 2: at Bar Americain, I slipped on the way back from the restroom. I was wearing low heels and I'd only had 2 drinks with a good bit of food, so I really don't think it was my fault. (But I do have to point out, regarding that, that as a former resident of the Empire State I took great pride in the fact that several nearby diners immediately jumped up to see if I was alright. This would not likely have happened elsewhere. People think New Yorkers are rude--people are idiots.)

Example 3: post-Presidio Social Club, the F-G came down with something akin to a full-body migraine. In this case, I'll allow that he might just be allergic to bad service, but nonetheless a pattern emerges.

So, diner beware, I think. This may be a lesson in finish your drink and get the h*ll out while you still can, should things appear to be going south. I'm going to have to train the F-G in the cut and run, though, as he does embody the hope-springs-eternal philosophy about restaurants....


Gialina - Take Out

We've already had to have the Atomica again. Its tomato, mushrooms, mozzarella, spicy chilies. How is that not something you want to eat all the time? I went for take out a few days ago on my way home from a late day at the office.

We also got their big big (big) salad again. This time it was arugula, cherries, cheese and another really good vinaigrette. I missed the apricots from the previous version and the arugula was a bit much in terms of the whole peppery thing. I still ate two big piles of it.

We tried a halibut ceviche which I thought had corn in it when I looked at it but it turned out that the things I thought were corn were actually amazingly yellow bits of totally delicious avocado. It was an alright dish; it could have used more seasoning. And, honestly, it could have used some corn.

The pizza was spectacular. I could eat this stuff probably 3 or 4 times a week. We also got some Bi-Rite ice cream which is stupidly expensive and totally worth it.

The large salad, halibut starter, pizza and ice cream came to just under $50 (thus confirming my hypothesis from the previous visit that 2 people could eat for about $50 and do so happily). No question we'll be back again.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chenery Park

After last night's debacle at The Presidio Social Club we needed a fix/reminder that restaurants are, in fact, good and that service can be impeccable, food delicious, surroundings comfortable and prices reasonable. If you need to be reminded of all of that at one time, you go to Chenery Park. We do this a lot. Not always because we need a reminder; rather, usually because we just want a good meal.

Chenery Park is in Glen Park in San Francisco. The chefs used to work at Boulevard (which we haven't been to, but need to check out based on the work happening at Chenery Park). Its a two floor neighborhood restaurant of the highest order. (Can you tell we love this place?) We've been, I'm guessing, 8 or 10 times now and we've only lived here for 10 months and we didn't find Chenery Park until about 5 or 6 months into that time. We go a lot. The menu changes often enough that we always find something new and interesting and they do regular daily specials (ie, fried chicken on Tuesdays, Etouffe on Thursdays, and a scallop dish on Saturdays served with a salad of very thin, crispy fries, green beans and tomatoes....I think I'm going to pause and make a reservation for Saturday right now). They're on Open Table which makes the reservation process as easy as can be and we often make them the same day.

Their bar is excellent (not as good as at Absinthe...but the Absinthe folks have an unhealthy relationship with their cocktails, so there's a lot of room to not be as good as Absinthe and still be some of the best cocktails you've ever had) and we virtually always start with a cocktail. They do a killer Kir Royale (according to the Food Gal) and I enjoy their Sazerac and their Manhattans. Last time we were there they made a lovely French 75 for the lady. This night, the Food Gal had a "divine" drink; The Velvet Kiss, a lemony vodka drink with chambord on the bottom and a sugared rim. She was duly impressed (which isn't easy).

They also have a very nice selection of half bottles, which works out well with the cocktails. Tonight we had a Shug Pinot Noir...for a 2005 it was quite good.

We started with Arancini (little fried risotto balls stuffed with mozzerella) which they very nicely added one to so that we'd have 4 instead of 3 preventing one of us from stabbing the other with a fork. They were served with a roasted tomato sauce that could have used a bit more kick, but was darned tasty as the server could tell from the fact that I'd sopped it up with the bread (the not cold bread with the room temperature butter, I might add).

Then the Food Gal had some salmon (the Food Gal ordering salmon out and not at a sushi bar is high praise and speaks well for her faith in the kitchen) which she ordered rare...that lead to a rather humorous conversation with our server about how rare the chef likes to serve salmon and whether the Food Gal was really after some sushi. It came with some spinach and mashed potatoes and the Food Gal didn't say much while she was eating it, so I think she liked it. I got a taste and I was impressed.

I had the etouffe which they make with sausage that they make in house. Lots of crayfish and some really excellent rice made for a nice dish. Again, I'd have preferred a bit more kick, but the flavors were all there.

Desserts are always good at Chenery Park. For one thing, they have a rootbeer float on the menu all the time, so how can that be bad? The Food Gal had a blueberry rhubarb crumble and since rhubarb is one of the Food Gal's favorite things going, she was quite happy through dessert. I had a lemon pudding cake and a cup of coffee. It was tart and soft and very lemony and puddingy.

All of this (2 cocktails, half a bottle of wine, extra large starter, two entrees, two desserts, cup of coffee, bottle of sparkling water and tax) was $125 before tip. Any wonder we're there all the time?

Basically, Chenery Park feels like our dining room in our house but someone else does the dishes. Its everything you want in a neighborhood restaurant: gracious service, good food, excellent drinks and reasonable prices. We'll be back. Often.


Bar Americain

Last Saturday night, while in New York the Food Gal and I met up with excellent friends to dine at Bar Americain. The company was spectacular. The restaurant, though not overtly failing at any particular thing was simply unimpressive across the board.

First, we ordered drinks (a French 75 for the lady) and our waiter came back a short time later to tell us that the bar was out of superfine sugar and, therefore, could not make the French 75 for the lady. While I will (and did) give the bartender credit for not trying to fake a drink and making something that just wouldn't have hard is it to stock superfine sugar in a bar? (We won't even get into the fact that you can make it by putting regular granulated sugar into a food processor for about 2 minutes...busy restaurant during service...blah blah.) So, we had to go to option two, or three or whatever. The drinks they did serve, were, on the whole quite good. I had an excellent Manhattan and was happy. (Later, I tried to order their "signature" old fashioned, made with their own cherry infused bourbon. They were out of their own cherry infused bourbon. I think, perhaps, a new bar manager might be in order.)

Happily, everyone at the table (5 of us) were happy to order up and share. So we tried an awful lot of the menu. Shrimp and grits were good, oysters were excellent, half a chilled lobster was half a chilled lobster. The standout of the first food that hit the table was the Crab-Coconut shellfish cocktail. Balanced, nuanced, great combination of flavors...that was a fine dish.

Next up was a whole handful of asparagus chopped salad was uninteresting (and the asparagus wasn't chopped...odd); the fries americain were decent fries, the "hot potato chips" were good potato chips but no one could figure out the hot part...they weren't spicy and they weren't warm to the touch (and, honestly, they weren't worth $9...); the creamed corn was spectacular. This was the one dish that really seemed to me to capture what the whole Bobby Flay thing is supposed to be...bold, bright flavors in interesting combinations. It had some green chilis in it, was perfectly cooked, was the right temperature...really an outstanding dish. The only thing I'd be happy to go back for.

The entrees we got included a Skate (the fish was well cooked, but overpowered by a heavy sauce in far too great a volume); Smoked Chicken which was tasty, but utlimately still a chicken dish that didn't blow anyone's skirt up; duck, of which the breast was perfect and the wing totally over seasoned somehow...I expect it was brined and the salt level in the smaller part was just off the charts; and a rack of pork which while the most tender, juicy pork I think I may ever have eaten, was entirely lacking in flavor (a problem with many dishes, which I wasn't expecting given the executive chef).

For dessert, we again shared a lot. Two of us got the blackberry souffle...a perfect souffle which was too large and didn't hold interest. If it had been 2/3 the size it would have been better. There was also a deep dish chocolate pie...which while chocolate, wasn't deep and was just ok. The caramel whiskey eclairs...yum. Those were interesting...they had a solid caramel on the bottom and a glass of the whiskey sauce would have been just fine with me. I skipped an espresso because the double was $7...honestly. Come on.

Along the way, the Food Gal, on her way back from the restroom, slipped on a water spill in the hallway and tweaked her back, ending the meal in a not so fun way. The manager was gracious, but it had an effect.

As I said, the company was spectacular. None of the food was bad, but with the exception of the corn and the whiskey eclairs, nothing was truly special in a way that sticks with me. It wasn't unreasonably expensive (about $130 per person including tip) for all of the food and the drinks we got. If the flavors had been better, we'd have been very pleased with all of it. As is, we had a blast with our friends but I think we'd stick to the bar if we went back.


Presidio Social Club

Oh well. The Food Gal and I got all gussied up to fit in with the decor at the Presidio Social Club last night. A very cool concept in the Presidio in San Francisco. In an old Army barracks, the place looks great. A wonderful job of an updated take on the classic 40s USO club.

Right from the start, though, we knew it was trouble. The hostess looked at us blankly and never did manage to offer a smile or even, really, recognition of our existence. Someone took us to our table and asked if we'd like to start with some water, we said yes and ask for sparkling. That took about 10 minutes to show up. A few minutes later our waitress came by and took a drink order (French 75 for the lady, a Pegu for me). Those took another 15 minutes or so (which, normally, no big deal but I was a bit suprised because we'd gotten there at 5:30, with a reservation, so the bar wasn't yet busy). Our waitress then demonstrated a lack of ability to juggle a few tables at a time running off to get other drink orders after telling us that there were specials, but not what the specials were. We were most of the way done with our drinks by the time we ordered. The bread they brought us was fairly tasty, but literally refrigerator cold, and the butter was rock solid (and not in a good way).

We started with "crab cupcakes" which is a cute name for little crab cakes. 3 bite sized ones, in fact. They were fairly tasty, though deep fried, and nothing special though nothing was wrong with them. Along with those we got the "PSC Seafood Cocktail" with those tiny cocktail shrimp and some scallops served in a tomato-y sauce. It was alright if a bit oily and not as tomato-y as I'd have thought given how it looked. Honestly, the oyster crackers were the best part of the dish.

We ordered a second round of drinks (all of which, by the way, were good) and my cocktail glass had quite a bit of lipstick on it...less than appetizing. They made another fairly quickly.

Because the starters list was far more interesting than the mains, we told our waitress that we were likely just going to order several rounds of starters. So, as we finished up the first course, we ordered the "tuna poke" and the "deli chopped liver" and some fries (its San Francisco, everyone has them, and you must order them for comparison's sake). The tuna was entirely uninteresting (though it came with some very good potato chips). Somehow, the tuna, cucumber, mango and maui onion combined to be entirely tasteless; I don't think there was any seasoning at all in the dish. The chopped liver was just what it should have been though it would have been better with some more salt and pepper and came with some completely fabulous toasted rye. Great bread, that. The fries were wonderful...on the thin side, nice seasoning blend on them and actually served with Heinz Ketchup. As we were finishing them up, we were discussing our next round of items and settling on splitting a main course that had caught our eye. Unfortunately, we never got there.

The amazing hovering bus person cleared everything off of our table, including the salt and pepper shakers, despite a couple of "um, I'm not..." but then he was gone. And, as the Food Gal said, "we've been dismissed." Clearly a complete breakdown in communication, but since we hadn't seen our waitress since ordering the second round of food, we had no hope.

So, we paid up and left. For the 4 starters, fries and 4 cocktails, it was a slightly suprising $90 tab. If we hadn't still been hungry (and that's not owing to large just wasn't much food, really) it'd have been ok.

So, bottom line: we won't be back. If the service had been even decent, the atmosphere and the drinks would have made up for the mediocre food and we'd go back. As is, the service was abysmal and we can get good drinks and much, much better food elsewhere.

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