Location: RN74 - Date: February 13, 2010
While this blog attempts primarily to celebrate and recognize the East Bay’s substantial offerings in dining by focusing on restaurants located on the “other side” of the Bay, one cannot live in the Bay Area and fail to frequent San Francisco occasionally. It just wouldn’t be right.
Upon arriving at RN74, we were promptly ushered to our table to await the arrival of the remainder of our party, the Grad Student and her date for the evening, a Grad Student friend of hers from Georgetown. Not one to pass up an opportunity for a cocktail, I ordered from their house cocktail menu while we waited — something called the “La Femme” a delightfully refreshing blend of Gin, apricot and orange. The spiciness of the gin blended well with the citrus of the orange. Apricots have a nice warm almost meaty consistency, so the thick finish of the sweet apricot delivered a complexity to the cocktail. I found it a delightfully sweet, yet vaguely spicy concoction.
Given the excellent time-management, we were able to enjoy dessert and coffee at the end of our meal. The three of us shared warm Beignets, an Orange Bavarois and a White Sesame Pot de Creme. The Beignets came with a warmed nutmeg-flavored creme anglaise. The cinammon and sugar-crusted dough, having been fried and still hot, absorbed the creme and was delicious. The Orange Bavarois was an exquisitely layered dish. The bottom layer contained thin slices of lady-fingers that had been made with just a hint of lavender, its middle layer was a lovely thick cream pudding the consistency of a creme brulee and the top layer was a thick slice of a perfectly ripe orange. This was a subtle dance of creamy vanilla, the sweet tang of the citrus, and the gentle savory air of the lavender floating throughout. Spectacular.
Lastly, we sampled a white sesame pot de creme slathered with a chocolate glaze and cherries over a delicate Bugne Lyonnaise pastry. Ahhhh. As I sipped my cappucino amongst such lovely company, I couldn’t help but be delighted that these are the meals of my life.
301 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-2243
Dining time: so not their fault!
Table size: Roomy booth
Noise Level: Three - Four Bells
On this occasion it was not a problem, but it can get incredibly loud here
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
We arrived at the San Pedro Square Bistro & Wine Bar early enough, we hoped, to catch a real cocktail nearby. We like a good margarita or two before a show. But there was nothing in sight, although ironically there was a closed Mexican Restaurant right next door. Maybe that should have been a sign.
Overall, I think the best offering was their fries. Served in one of those lovely paper cones to absorb some of the grease, the fries arrived steaming hot right out of the frier, and were accompanied with three really aromatic and complimentary dipping sauces. The first aioli was a lovely sun-dried tomato, another was a spicy wasabi and the last was aioli blended with a tapenade of olives. All three dips were clearly distinct from one another and offered a really and tasty variety of flavors against the steamy potato wedges. The fries made a really good impression on me and were a big hit at our table.
The waitress made it back in another five or six minutes. We placed our orders and hoped we had enough time. We had a little leeway since we hadn’t managed a bar stop on the way to the restaurant. One of us decided on the Chicken Vostadana. Though the restaurant has named it differently, I believe the dish was in reality Chicken Saltimbocca. The name change might have been because the dish is more traditionally done with veal. It might have been a nod to it being a variation by the chef or a family member. But the ingredients are chicken layered with prosciutto and cheese and a touch of sage with butter. That’s a Saltimbocca if ever there was one.
I have to note that when our food came it was not piping hot. It was more like room temperature, and had obviously been sitting for awhile before being served. That again underscored to me that the restaurant was not adequately prepared for the crowd they had.
We soldiered on, finishing the meal by sharing a creme brulee and a triple-chocolate cake. Both were excellent and we managed to get out of there in time to make it to the “Grand Chapiteau” before the show.
I must reiterate that the food was good enough, and priced well. Four of us got out for about $150 which seems like a deal these days. The service inconsistencies may have been an aberration. The waitress was polite. She was young and I think she tried her best. But the food was late and no longer hot, she forgot my meal, they left us sitting forever. Should she have been better trained? Maybe. I came away with more questions than answers, and I’m not sure I’d want to go back myself. That said, if you’re on a budget, maybe you should check it out for yourself. Good deals to be had. Bon Appetit!
San Pedro Square Bistro & Wine Bar
20 N Almaden Ave
San Jose, CA 95113
Table size: adequate
Noise Level: barely THREE BELLS = Occasionally talking normally gets difficult
Dining Time: Barely made it out for the show