I was in the mood to try somewhere new, and so, based in part on feedback (see link below) from the Hounds about a place in the Embarcadero or FiDi that was both somewhat casual and celebratory, hubby and I headed out to try the Cosmopolitan one night last week.
First impressions: the place is smaller than I imagined. Good vibe, welcoming hostess, and I did notice a very nice private room in back, which I made a mental note of for future business dinners in the neighborhood. Indeed, my impression was that many of the dining groups were there on business. Not that unusual on a Wednesday night in that neighborhood, I guess, though it did distract me just a bit from my celebratory mood. It was certainly busier than I anticipated.
No matter, hubby and I were promptly seated at the quietest, most private two top in the house, which is what I had requested: some folks might call being as far away as one can be from the piano bar Siberia, but I call it Heaven. We started with drinks: hubby had ordered a martini while waiting at the bar for me to meet him, so I wanted to catch up. To be fair, I should have tried the signature drink, but was in a lemon drop mood. The lemon drop was average (best Ive found in the City is at Azie).
Nothing on the appetizer portion of the menu really appealed, although several of the mains looked good: this is the opposite of my usual reaction to mid and higher-end restaurant menus, where I often am tempted to make a meal of appetizers. The wine list is fairly reasonably priced with a nice selection of wines by the glass and half bottles, and a range from lower to upper end, which I appreciate. The majority of selections are from California.
I had a few questions about the wines, but our server wasnt familiar with the list, and offered to send someone over. He then disappeared, even though we were ready to place our orders. The manager or head waiter (not a sommelier), came over perhaps ten minutes later, answered our questions, more or less, and we ordered a bottle of Stonestreet "Upper Barn" Alexander Mountain Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was brought five minutes later, then our server didnt come back for another ten minutes after that to take food orders.
When server eventually came back, I ordered sides of grilled asparagus and tempura string beans, in lieu of an appetizer, and hubby ordered soup. Cant even remember which soup, but the tempura beans were quite good and came with both a spicy aoli and tempura sauce for dipping. Grilled asparagus was slightly overgrilled. Both sides were generous orders for only $4 each.
Mains were halibut in a fushion style for hubby, with jasmine rice and shitake mushrooms. It was tasty but somewhat overcooked, which seems to be the case with most halibut Ive tasted lately (with the notable exception of the delicious version at Chez Panisse Cafe). The fish was piled on the rice with mushrooms on top of that; basically, I thought it was fine but not prepared with care. I had dayboat sea scallops with oxtail risotto. The five fairly small scallops were delicious and the oxtail added a rich, satisfying touch. I am a sucker for scallops anyway, but this was definitely the winner of the evening.
For dessert we shared a baked cherry crisp with vanilla ice cream; the server had described it as having fresh cherries, but they looked and tasted canned to me. The top of the crisp seemed to include oats, and there was a predominant cinnamon flavor. We ate every bite, but I cant say it came together.
Service other than the initial delay in ordering was fine, though it varied between extremely warm and fuzzy and very distracted and distant, which was unsettling.
Total with tax and tip for one app, two sides, two mains, one drink, a bottle of wine, and one dessert: $157.
Bottom line, it was not a place I would rush back to anytime soon for a dinner with hubby, given what that price range will buy you for dinner in the bay area. Hubbys comment: it is the sort of place I would have liked in my thirties Im not sure how to interpret that statement, but I guess it means he wont rush back either
I have to agree with those that said that it isn't in the same league as Boulevard for either food or service, but OTOH, it is definitely less expensive, so I'm not sure that is a fair comparison. Next time I want a celebratory dinner somewhere where hubby doesn't have to wear a coat or tie I'll probably try Rubicon...
Nonetheless, I would encourage hounds to put Cosmopolitan on the list for an upscale business dinner or a group, since both the vibe and variety of mains would probably appeal to a broad cross section of folks. Might also be fun on weekends when a vocalist joins the pianist.
p.s.: For the women: if you go, check out the restroom; the (art deco style) ladies lounge is pretty cool....
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