Oh dear, what a night. I'm from the East Coast, and when my travels occasionally take me to San Francisco, I have enjoyed dining at Albona in the past. The Istrian food (Adriatic peninsula, region between northern Italy and what was Yugoslavia) was a little different, the small room was lovely and comfortable, and I got a kick out of the personal and quirky attentions of Bruno, the owner. The quirkiness was always balanced by his younger nephew, Michael, a supremely competent and also personable server/host.
But Bruno was completely over the top this time.
Maybe it was our table of 7, too much of an audience. Bruno took charge beginning with the blow-by-blow description of his pea soup-- a monologue that would not be interrupted. Oh, we tried, first politely, then assertively, and even abruptly-- we could not get the man to stop to offer a glass of wine during the first 20 minutes. As we got more assertive, Bruno responded abrasively. Thought about leaving, but there were 7 of us in 3 cars, it was quite late, one couple had come in from a distance, etc.
Finally Michael caught my distressed eye, came over and (with effort) removed the obnoxious uncle and did his best to shield us for the rest of the evening, more or less sucessfully.
Well, Michael is a dream -- he really should have his own place. Our food was fine, especially the very fresh halibut and veal shank. I'd stay away from those nasty fried gnocchi thingies in the beef gravy, and the sardines were no treat as appetizers. We didn't stay for dessert, under the circumstances.
Sadly, Albona is off our list forever. At least we've taken away some colorful stories to share.