C&L was reviewed very positively in the SF Weekly at the end of December last year. It just opened in November in the space that was formerly Charles Nob Hill. When my boyfriend & I were trying to think of a place for Valentine's Day, we decided to call C&L, and were very happy with our experience.
The restaurant is at 1250 Jones St. SF, and there doesn't seem to be much parking around the area (I'm not familiar with it though). We did valet because it was easy ($8.) Because of traffic, we were a few minutes late for our 6:30 pm reservation but there was no problem and we were seated immediately. There are three rooms and we were seated in the one to the left of the foyer. Originally they tried to give us a table in the corner to the left of the entrance to the room, but when I indicated my preference for the corner window table, they willingly switched us. We didn't lok at the wine list as I'm not a big drinker and my boyfriend was driving, so we just had a cocktail each.
The menu at C&L is organized into five categories (starter, steak, side dish, vegetable, & dessert) with eight cities as themes for each set dishes. However, the menu is a la carte and you're free to mix & match among cities or categories.
We were offered a choice of waters when we were seated but it wasn't pushy at all, and though we chose tap the busboy was very attentive and kept our glasses full.
I had the Atlanta Bellini ($10) and my bf had the Denver Avalanche ($10) which had creme de menthe in it. These drinks were probably the weakest point of our meal.
After we ordered, the bread tray was brought out, with cornbread, Turkish "lavash", & sourdough wheat bread. There was a choice of barbecue butter, garlic butter, and quince jam. The lavash was like a crisp cracker with pepper on it. The garlic butter was excellent, but the barbecue butter just tasted like a load of cumin was mixed in. I like cumin, but it just didn't work for me.
We ordered the Yorkshire popovers ($4). Two gigantic popovers appeared, with gribiche sauce (seems like tartar sauce with chopped egg instead of relish) and several strips of bacon. A bite of popover with the sauce and crisp bacon...heaven.
We didn't order any starters (all $8), since none of them particularly appealed to us. I had the Chicago steak (all steaks $30, corn fed beef from Painted Hills Natural Beef in Oregon), which was a pan roasted sirloin with bearnaise sauce. I can't remember ever having a steak that good. It was a perfect medium rare and the sauce...oh that sauce. Delicious. My bf had the New York steak, a black pepper crusted steak with bourbon sauce. The sirloins are 10 oz, but he opted to upgrade to a 16 oz sirloin for another $10. The sauces are brought in little pitchers on the platters and thus we could control the amount with our meat, a touch I appreciate.
The side dishes and vegetables are all $4. We ordered the glazed carrots, ferry market special (today was brussels sprouts with pearl onions), yucca fries, and potatoes mousseline. The carrots had a light lemon cream sauce that went very well with their sweetness. The brussels sprouts and onions were delicious as well, and I don't normally like either vegetable. Considering that we were at a steak house, they were very light and went well with the meat, with portions large enough to share. The potatoes mousseline were wonderful as well, like the lightest, fluffiest, creamiest mashed potato imaginable. Our server recommended the yucca fries and those were a little more unusual and just as yummy as everything else on the table. The outsides were rubbed with some kind of spice that I can't recall but the fries were excellent especially when I dipped them in the bearnaise sauce.
We were stuffed by then but because they encourage you to order dessert with the rest of your meal so that the courses will come in a timely manner...(I think its because otherwise no one would order dessert, they'd be too stuffed.)...we had the bananas foster (all desserts $8). Three small scoops of ice cream (vanilla and banana) with sauteed bananas in a ramekin with a pitcher of caramel rum sauce and three puffy beignets with powdered sugar on the side. Heavenly. Since my bf is lactose intolerant, I couldn't get him to eat more than a couple slices of banana and a beignet, so I was "forced" to finish it myself. I am surprised my pants still fit right now.
The service was quite good but we did endure a couple of long waits, first when we wanted to order (but this was probably because we had asked her for more time the first time she came by but really, fifteen minutes was a lot longer than we expected her to wait to come back to us), and second when we were waiting for the check.
Total with tip & valet parking, ~$160. Not cheap, when you consider that we didn't have any wine, but worth a splurge, and relative to other SF steakhouses, prices are not that high. We'll definitely return there.