The news that chef Jeremy Fox, formerly of Ubuntu, had also pulled out of Daniel Patterson's upcoming restaurant, Plum, came on the same day as the second Plum preview dinner at Il Cane Rosso. But with Patterson himself in the kitchen, the dinner kept enthusiasm stoked for the restaurant's opening.
There are four courses for $45, plus an amuse-bouche of chickpea fritters with sheep's milk cheese and wild fennel that's kind of like falafel, says ricegeek. "The exotic aroma of the fresh fennel buds rising up from the hot fritter was bliss," adds Melanie Wong.
The first course, a melon salad with cucumber, is "a gorgeous presentation of the best California has to offer," ricegeek says—perfectly ripened cantaloupe and honeydew with a delicate almond yogurt dressing. Red shiso and nasturtium play up the prettiness.
Chilled eggplant soup is worthy of rhapsody: "the silky smooth, rich soup served as comforting rhythm to the crunchy, popping melodies of the pickled beans, peas, and fresh cilantro," ricegeek says. "The refreshing energy of the dish could not be damped even under the chilly summer weather of San Francisco." It was the winner of the night.
Slow-cooked egg over fried farro (think fried rice) with chicken giblets and sprouts is the ultimate comfort food, ricegeek says, "as nothing makes a splash, but eating the dish was like getting a warm hug from all the ingredients."
Dessert, a milk chocolate parfait with basil meringue and pistachio, is good but too rich coming on the heels of the fried farro. The homemade hibiscus marshmallow that follows, light and tangy, is a more fitting end.
Il Cane Rosso [Embarcadero]
1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco
Plum [East Bay]
2214 Broadway, Oakland
No phone available