Out at the Legion of Honor for a tour of the Artwear exhibit, we headed to PPQ to satisfy my craving for soft shell crab.
Five of us shared dinner for two (chicken salad, spring rolls, garlic noodles, roasted crab, and fried bananas with ice cream for $45). I substituted the salt and pepper crab and added green papaya salad with shrimp, raw beef salad, summer rolls, and a soft shell crab appetizer. This was the perfect amount of food, and virtually everything was fresh and delicious. The chicken salad was made to order, lightly tossed with dressing and bits of fried garlic. Green papaya salad is lighter than the Thai version, cut into matchsticks, the perfect antidote to all that butter.
A warning that this is a bad place if you don't like garlic. Salt and pepper crab was covered in a head of chopped and fried garlic bits:chewy and wonderful. Our crab was at least 2 pounds, perhaps larger, and cut into pieces that made it easy to share.
Noodles were the weakest point, and I'd skip the raw beef salad (better at Yummy Yummy and elsewhere) in favor of another soft shell crab. It was lightly battered and fried and served with a slice of lemon, which was all the adornment it required; I hated sharing even a bite.
An orange scoop of ice cream accompanied the fried bananas. Even after eating it, we weren't sure what flavor it was. Stick to coconut ice cream if they have it.
As we were leaving, a fresh supply of dungeness crabs arrived and was emptied into the tank behind us. They were huge and vigorous, trying to climb out....The dungeness crab from Puget Sound was at least as sweet as the local crab I enjoyed at PPQ last December, if not the same incredible bargain as the salt and pepper crabs at Le Hou, further up Clement.
PPQ is at 25th and Clement. Total was $90 plus tip including a beer and a couple of iced coffees. Dinner prices are the same (although last time we spent basically the same amount for two). I'll be back soon for more soft shell crab and would love other recommendations for where to find them while they're in season on the east coast.
Being chowhounds, on the way home we somehow detoured to Tartine. It was 3:40, and there was a parking space in front. My friends had been to Tartine the day before when the bread guy was on vacation. So we got cappucinos and more dessert and got comfortable out on the sidewalk. (The plum tart was lovely; their coffee really isn't.) At 4 breads were still in the oven, so we went to Bi-Rite in search of baby arugula and white fish salad. Kenn commented that this was as close as we come to hunting and gathering--securing walnut loaves at Tartine and organic strawberries. We rode home with hot loaves in our laps.
Another blissful San Francisco weekend...
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