Restaurants & Bars

03/08 Ubuntu: From The Same Folks That Sold You Bottled Water

opinionatedchef | Mar 31, 200812:36 AM     57

Spoiler Warning: If you are an Ubuntu fan, read no further. I am well aware that any credibility I ever had in the CH community- will be lost forever with this post.Sorry, but I can only write the truth of my own experience. As many different people as there are in the world, there are as many different opinions.....

Thank heavens for Petit Secs from yesterday's Ferry Bldg. excursion to The Fatted Calf; they're taking the edge off my gnawing hunger while I enter this post.

There were four of us tonight at Ubuntu.From the beginning, all boded well. CH reviews by admired posters- had been largely positive. We walked in the door at 7PM and were completely surprised to be greeted by the handsome and talented GM who is an old acquaintance from Boston. We were seated at a handsome table with very comfortable chairs in a very handsome high ceilinged space, graced by some unusually good serious sculpture. There was a friendly comfortable inviting vibe about the place.

By the end of our evening, 9:30, we had shared 12 different items, some 'bites', some 'small plates', some ' large plates',and two desserts.Our friends were pleasantly satiated ; my love and I were ready to go out for dinner.

Revelations? Not a one. Appealing flavors?- many.Ridiculously skimpy portions?- the norm. Return? Never. N..E..V..E..R

Marcona Almonds w/ Lavender, sugar, salt. (and I detest lavender)
Fried sunchokes w/ romesco sauce
Red pepper and bread quenelles w/ marinated chick peas and whiff of manchego cheese
Yellow eye bean soup

table bread and butter
beet,mache,avocado salad
radish salad
carta da musica w/ pea shoots
robuchon potatoes w/ egg and red wine
anson grits w/ fava leaves and parm and carrot puree
chocolate souffle
vanilla cheesecake in a jar

I will go into disgruntled detail on only one plate as an example:

The white anson grits, maybe 1/2 cup, 8 tablespoons, were spread out on a large white plate in kind of a free form long puddle,topped with 3 fava leaves, 2 asparagus spears and 2 broccolini? sprigs, and accompanied by 1-2 tablespoons of mounded tangelo carrot puree. The grits tasted like they had been cooked in water. and unsalted water at that. No lovely rich multidimensional vegetable stock here. They were grossly undersalted and underparmesaned. As a matter of record, I would testify that there was no parmesan present. I added liberal salt and a requested side of parm. And did I mention the cost of this 'Large Plate' of 1/2 cup of grits? $21.00.

Service was o.k. Throughout the evening, the waitress consistently did not notice things that needed replenishing. One item we ordered never appeared. Her recs were crummy- the potatoes reblochon that she said we 'couldn't not get' were completely undistinguished, forgettable, and an insult to Chef Robuchon. She pushed the pizzas, but other CH posts saved me from following her lead.

BTW, The chef was present and on the line this evening. I'm sure he is very pleased with all the press and positive feedback he's been receiving.
And the owners? Well, they're certainly not the first , nor will they be the last, to build
an empire on air........ or bottled water. But it will not be me helping them purchase that island in the Seychelles........

My advice for those of you who want to be wowed by some great vegetarian food?- find a talented chef and eat her/his vegetarian offerings. (Just in the past week, both Cortez in SF and Redd in Yountville- have had many exquisite vegetarian offerings on their menus- with which one could easily put together a super many-dish dinner.)

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