I have been meaning to get to Delfina for over a year and finally made it last night. While I would go back if someone else chose it, I am not in a big rush to do so. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I just dont see what the big deal is, or why it is so hard to get reservations.
The restaurant was almost full by the time I arrived at 7:15. We had a 7:30 reservation and our table wasnt ready until 7:45 or so. After being seated we were provided a small bowl of olives. After several requests we were given crusty bread as well. Other than the initial failure to bring bread, our waitress was friendly and competent, and I did not notice a hint of attitude by her or any of the staff.
We tried the grilled calamari over white bean salad and beef carpaccio for starters. The grilled calamari was darkly charred but not bitter at all, and very fresh. I was surprised at the smallness of the portion, just four small pieces for $8.75. The white beans underneath were very flavorful. The carpaccio was very good as well. A large plate of shaved beef with some sort of slaw, covered with crushed capers and aioli. We had a few glasses of Calera Central Coast Chard to accompany the appetizers. Nice wine, full bodied and fruity, but a tad too toasty.
For the entrees we tried the grilled flat iron steak with fries, and grilled scallops served with a black olive tapenade. The steak was great, cooked perfectly (medium rare) and full of flavor. It almost reminded me more of venison then beef, and was well worth the $17.95 tab. The fries were heavily flavored with fried sage and rosemary, very crispy and very good. The scallops were very simply prepared but were flavorful, probably due more to freshness rather than the preparation. The black olive tapenade was a nice contrast but nothing special. We also tried a side of sautéed broccoli rabe with garlic, which was nicely bitter. Sampled the 1999 Querciabella Chianti and Greenwood Ridge Cabernet with the entrees. The Chianti stood out.
For dessert we tried the profiteroles and some brewed tea. The profiteroles were filled with (espresso?) ice cream and were good, though I am not a huge profiterole fan. The tea list is quite impressive, with full descriptions of the tea flavors and caffeine level.
I understand the concept at Delfina is simple food, and I dont have a problem with that. However, considering the simplicity of some of the creations, prices seemed a little high. Had all the entrees and appetizers been a bit less expensive I would have been more impressed. Overall tab came to $134 for two, including tax and 20% tip. The wine tab accounted for $45 of that. For that kind of money, there is a long list of restaurants that serve equally good food, but get much less attention.
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