|Chick pea fritter "sticks" w/ Chile Aioli|
|Bacon Beignets with Creme Fraiche|
The occasion for this particular jaunt was the arrival of two long-time friends from Indiana. One was a Former Associate of our law firm, accompanied by her husband, a Successful Software Executive. The pair had moved away from SF several years ago to raise their young children closer to family. The FA was originally from Indiana, and we would eat out and discuss the culinary advantages of living in or near San Francisco. At the time our FA lived here in SF, she worked with us in Oakland, but it was barely a whisper in the local foodie vocabulary. She was excited to be back and to try new places in both cities. Returning to visit old haunts and old friends, catching up on our lives apart over wine and conversation and good food. We were gathering to celebrate the simple beauty of life itself.
It so happens that the Former Associate was one of the first people to teach me the “ropes” of fine dining. She has always understood and appreciated a good meal. A food writer herself, she inspired me to take on the mantle of culinary correspondent I now wear as a second skin. We share a love of all that is edible, and a passion for those among us who are passionate about eating (and cooking) well.
When she asked me to come up with an adventure fit for our reunion, I felt a need to do some research, to rise to this occasion and show the mentor the student has learned a thing or two. This opportunity to repay her in kind for her many great recommendations required that I come through with only the very best choices for dining in the City. Fortunately, I knew exactly where (and to whom) to turn. I turned to one of my “go to” sources: @TheDapperDiner. I know if he liked his meal, normal humans will reel at the experience. He recommended Frances (which the FA had heard of all the way in Indiana, since she keeps abreast of dining news for her column) and we were on the hunt for a reservation. I had to calendar myself an alert to call exactly two months ahead of time to obtain a reservation, but was successful immediately. Come March, we would be guests of Chef Perello, experiencing for ourselves all that she had to offer.
|Little Gem Salad|
@TheDapperDiner had suggested we check in with @Bobiwithani (the resident sommelier at FRANCES) and as luck would have it, our primary waiter for the evening. A charming guy and a knowledgeable server, Bobi took us through the various refreshments with an ease and affable charm that I find enhances my appetite for the experience, as well as the food. The BH and I were just recently discussing the significant rise in the talents of wait staff with the advent of so much competition. Simply put, servers are getting better and better at the art of serving. In me they will find an appreciative diner.
After Bobi took us through the evening’s drink options, the others opted to begin by sharing a carafe of the FRANCES house white wine, which was crisp and refreshing. Always a contrary type, I began with a different beverage, titled simply the “Market Shot.” This option was presented as a tiny cup of an elixir that I believe consisted of pear beer (or pear and beer) and something bubbly that tickled my nose. Bobi had billed it as the perfect palate cleanser with which to begin a meal. I have to agree that it was.
|Bass w/ Risotto|
For my soup / salad course I chose the Little Gem Salad - of Tarragon Vinaigrette, Fennel, Kumquat, Mandarin, Haas Avocado. Simple but delicious, this salad had a lovely texture to it, the crunch of the vaguely bitter kumquat and the sweet of the mandarin really played well together. Each popping off the other in a lovely little garden dance of happy in the mouth.
|Duck w/ Butter Beans|
For dessert we shared three choices. The first a Lumberjack Cake - Pink Lady Apple, Medjool Dates, Maple Walnut Ice Cream. The cake had a nice body to it, and the ice cream with hidden bits of date inside it was surprisingly good. The frozen maple treat kept them chewy and cold so they melted when they hit the tongue and began to warm.
The second was a Chocolate ‘Clafoutis’ with Candied Kumquats, Burnt Caramel, and Creme Chantilly (Bobi with an “I” says that’s Basque for bowl of gooey wonderful heavenly chocolate-y goodness and indeed it was). This dish was a massive chocolate goo orgy. The “clafoutis” tasted like a chewy brownie soaked in caramel, and then there was additional caramel sauce meant to be added. This one was as mind-blowing as chocolate desserts go. If you love caramel or chocolate, it’s a guaranteed high.
We completed the meal with a Chicory Root Panna Cotta, Page Mandarin, Espresso Gelee, Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies. The panna cotta was creamy, but the chocolate cookies were perfect. With a nice chewy texture, the little burst of salt crust on the top provided another sweet salty contrast, one of my new favorite things about the modern cookie.
FRANCES was a delight. The food was excellent, and the service was amazing. Really professional, a lovely evening spent with my favorite kind of people. Good ones. I say you must check it out.
3870 17th St
(between Pond St & Noe St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Noise level: boisterous
Cost: Moderately Expensive
how fun re-living the meal through your post. It was a lovely night--thanks for setting it up. Wish we could have done a lunch too...now, time for you to stop by Indy.... :) I could take you guys to some great places here too! And hey, you SERIOUSLY need to continue your duck quest at Prospect. That was the best duck I ever put in my mouth.ReplyDelete
Why is duck so tantalizingly wonderful these days? Are they just learning how to bring it to life, or have I been missing something all along? Just had it at Restaurant August-- mouth watering succulence... Gotta hit Prospect for sure. Will def let you show us Indy soon!ReplyDelete