Thanks for the recs for a SOMA lunch spot. I decided on coco500, but Mrs. Mousse wouldn't let me try it alone so I rearranged my schedule and we made it a dinner instead.
This is a great restaurant. Food ranged from good to excellent, prices are reasonable, portions are well sized (not too big, not too small).
Started with the fried green beans ($6). I understand what Bauer was raving about. This is truly the perfect fried green bean. Thin layer of batter gives it a nice crisp without dominating the vegetables. The beans were still pleasantly firm and very flavorful. I could even taste each plump bean inside of the pod. The dipping sauce was nice, though difficult to analyze. Not quite aioli, not quite sour cream. Whatever it was, it worked.
House salad of Coastal Greens ($6) was a good, simple salad. Lettuce was very fresh, pears were perfectly ripened with a soft texture and a subtle, sweet flavor. Vinaigrette worked well with the dish, not too strong. The real star was the almonds. These almonds were so plump, juicy, crunchy and flavorful they tasted like they were picked from the tree that morning. The whole dish came together nicely.
These starters were $6 each yet the portion was very generous, particularly by Cal cuisine standards. I'd return for lunch just to eat the green beans and a salad.
Wood Oven roasted beef cheek ($14) was excellent. Serving consists of a whole beef cheek dressed with horseradish cream and paired with watercress. The beef cheek was delicious; tender, melt-in-your mouth texture was almost gelatinous. Horseradish added a nice kick and the incredibly fresh watercress cleansed my palate after each bite.
Wood Oven Harvest Pizza ($12) was good not great. I liked the flavors of bacon, grapes and fontina but I felt that the crust was the weak link. Crust was very bland and cooked too light for my taste. A good pizza, but nowhere near on the level of Pizzaiolo. The one nice thing about the pizza is that it wasn't too large; this would make a good lunch for one.
I was impressed enough with dinner to order dessert (something I almost never do).
Fifty-Fifty ($7.50) was excellent. Beautiful presentation in a clearl glass of layered mango, panna cotta, and passionfruit. Nothing was too sweet (hooray!) rather there were some complex sour and tasty flavors in there, with just a hint of sweetness. Texture was light and creamy, just how it should be. This panna cotta is as good as it gets.
Apple and preserved cherry crisp with cinnamon ice cream ($7.50) was the dessert I've craved all Fall. Again, nothing was too sweet. Ice cream had a well balanced cinnamon flavor, the crisp had some nice, fruity flavors. I loved the mouth feel contrast between creamy, cold ice cream and hot, crispy tart. It's rare that two desserts please me this much.
Bar was good and the sober bar feature was a welcome change. Mrs. Mousse enjoyed her no-jito which had strong, fresh limon and mint flavors. I was thrilled to see Saison Dupont on their beer list, though $10 for a 375 ml bottle is a bit steep (that same bottle is $8 at Aziza). If we return on a weekend, Mrs. Mousse will probably try on of their cocktails that looked delicious.
Room may be a bit cramped and noisy by some standards, but that sort of thing doesn't bug me at all. Service was fine, attentive but nothing special. Same goes for course pacing.
Total cost for all this plus one Campari and a bottle of Panna, tax and tip was $110. All in all, great food at a reasonable price. I will definitely be back.