When I learned that my little sis was visiting me this weekend, I thought it was as good an excuse as any to try The Dining Room at the Ritz.
I was a pretty mischievous little runt and tortured my sisters when they were growing up. For the past few years, I've been trying to make it up to them by taking them out to LA's and NYC's finest. Now that I'm up here in SF, I figured that it's time to work through SF's elite.
We arrived early and were seated immediately by a very, very friendly hostess. Our extremely friendly waiter introduced himself and the overly friendly sommelier stopped by to welcome us also. Nice people but everyone was overly fawning and it actually made me just a touch uncomfortable.
Onto the food.
We started with 2 amuses. The first was a pleasant celeriac puree with white truffle foam, and the second was a perfectly seared nantucket bay scallop topped with osetra caviar sitting on top of yet another celery root puree.
For appetizers, we chose the porcini mushroom soup with lobster ravioli and the spiny lobster carpaccio with osetra caviar and grapefruit gelee. The porcini mushroom soup was good but the broth lacked a certain depth of flavor that would have elevated the dish to greatness. As for the spiny lobster carpaccio the lobster was sweet and paired well with the salty caviar and the grapefruit gelee but the dish was not that remarkable. It might have benefited from a touch of citrus dressing or something. Looking back, I should have opted for the white truffle risotto with uni ($65 supplement).
I ordered the Medi with matsutaki mushrooms and liquid lemongrass ravioli for my main and my sister had the Nieman Ranch lamb chops with porcini mushrooms and roasted artichoke. The medi was well cooked but the matsutaki mushrooms were remarkably tastless and they actually looked and tasted more like baby lobster mushrooms more than anything else. The liquid lemograss ravioli sounded much better than they tasted. The lamb chops were very good though. 2 tender double chops served with a very interesting potato herb gratin, beautifully roasted artichokes and nice thick porcini mushrooms.
For dessert we went with the standard bittersweet chocolate cake with an interesting candy cap mushroom ice cream that had a hint of cappucino. The star of the evening was the gorgeous passionfruit custard filled beignet atop a fruit compote of papaya, mango, passion fruit and mint.
We had a couple of glasses of wines by the glass each. I had a great 1998 Chateau Margeux Bordeaux, my sister liked her 2000 Beaune Burgandy and her Cotes Rotti. I had a glass of Napanook Cabernet that I wasn't too crazy about.
Total tax and 20% tip was $320.
Nice restaurant with pleasant if not fawning service, but the food wasn't as great I had hoped. Maybe we just ordered wrong, but I'd rather go back to Gary Danko and revisit The Dining Room.