Often when someone writes to this list looking for a suggestion for a special occasion, I suggest La Folie. It's my favorite fine dining spot in the city, but because it's so special I don't get there very often. Maybe every year or two. So I prior to last week I had not been in some time.
Last week, my family and close friends went to La Folie for my 50th birthday party, and I'm happy to say it was absolutely fantastic in every way.
There were 10 of us, and we booked their private room, which I had never seen before. So first, there's the room itself. Absolutely gorgeous. There is a picture on their website, but it really does not do it justice. It has a wonderful gracious rich feel with jewel tones and some warm tones and a high ceiling. The large wide rectangular table they set for us was really perfect for the size of our party. The whole setting felt very European.
The service, too, was perfect. Our primary server Kaley (not sure how to spell this) took great care of us. We never felt for a moment like we had been 'left alone in the room in the back'; rather the timing of the meal and the service was spot on. Also, after the first course I pulled Kaley aside and told him that I wanted to rotate seating between each course (every other person moved two seats to the left) so that we could all get a chance to sit next to each other through the evening. I detected a split second of dismay on his face, but he quickly recovered and said that would not be a problem. Even with that ridiculous requirement, they brought the right dishes to everyone throughout the meal.
The food was amazing, and the portions are more than generous. In fact, if there is one complaint to be made, it's that the portions are too large I suppose I could have ordered fewer courses, or left over parts of the courses, but that sort of control is hard to exercise in the face of so many wonderful choices and such delicious flavors.
On to the menu...
I ordered 5 courses and tasted many others.
Duck Egg -- stellar! This was a whole duck egg which somehow had a warm liquid yolk, a perfectly cooked firm-but-not-too-firm white, no shell of course, and a crunchy crumby fried coating. I have no idea how they managed to execute this. It came with other flavors and piles for dipping and playing which were all delicious as well. An amazing dish. This may have been my favorite
(other things witnessed and tasted in the first course: Snails: in some crazy preparation involving a bone and other things. My boyfirend said this was his favorite. Also, a dish with different kinds of roe and raw seafood. My sister had extra salmon roe, which I tasted and loved. Anywhere else I would have ordered this, but I wanted to make them do some cooking and saucing back there! )
Frog's Legs -- wonderful. These had a lovely pile of delicate mousse in the center, two wonderful concentric rings of sauce, and about 10 lovely frogs legs arranged radially.
(other tastes second course: seared fois gras. Not a dish I love or order, but I tasted this and it was to die for. Beet salad. This was my mom's favorite -- each little beet had a distinct flavor, atop some lovely cheese/cream and a wafer of some sort)
Lobster risotto. They had a huge black truffle they showed us at the beginning, and I elected to have some of this shaved onto my risotto. It was transcendent. Gorgeous. Delicious. Recalling it as I write makes my mouth water.
Squab and Quail. This is a course I have had before and it was my favorite the last time I ate at La Folie, and I simply had to order it again. They meat is rolled in a fried shredded potato cylinder, no bones to deal with. Another component is an adorable little potato basket holding a tiny sunny-side-up quail egg. Also wonderful, but at this point I was getting pretty full, so I only ate about 1/2 and got the rest to take home. I wanted room for dessert!
Edam cheese souffle. Magnificent souffle (small size, which was good at this point, I barely finished!) It came with some ice cream in an odd flavor I did not like, but souffle itself was the best cheese souffle I've ever had.
Overall, fantastic. My favorites were the duck egg, the lobster risotto and the cheese souffle. Also served were a couple of lovely amuse bouches at the beginning, a refresher before the 5th course, and wonderful mignardises at the end.
Lastly, the Chef came out to say a gracious hello, and they gave me a copy of the menu signed by the chef (all the menus had "Happy 50th Birthday Paul" printed at the top by the way).
All in all, a perfect evening. I could not have asked for a better birthday dinner.
2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109