7PM reservation for dinner last night for two, my first time there. I was quite excited, been trying to go there for ages!
The place was hopping and just got busier as the night went on. However, service was prompt, one might even say speedy, and we never felt neglected.
We shared the following:
- Trio of crostini ($8.50): 3 crostini, chicken liver, fava bean with parmesan, and whitebean with a fish roe that was bright yellow in color- i couldn't remember the name. All were good, but as I'm not a big fan of chicken liver, the fava bean was the table favorite. Whitebean was good, but the fish roe was almost citrusy and didn't add much.
- Spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and peperoncini ($11): Just had to try the legendary staple there and weren't disappointed. Nice chewy al dente pasta that soaked up just enough sauce, the right amount of heat and garlic. The only thing that did bother me was that plum tomatoes were used. I know that Craig Stoll is a fan of quality canned tomatoes, but with tomato season in full swing, it would've been nice if he made it with fresh tomatoes right now.
- Wolfe Ranch quail with polenta, house-made fennel sausage and vin santo ($21): I was a little hesisant about quail since I cooked a lot of it recently, but this was nice. Basically spatchcooked and served in 3 pieces (so maybe it was 1.5 quail?), with perfect polenta that wasn't too gummy- soaked up the sauce nicely. The fennel sausage was slightly crispy and a nice foil to the other flavors on the plate. This entree was sandwiched b/t the steak and chicken on the menu- I had read on Chowhound that this was where they place the "interesting" rotating item to try, and I'm glad I did.
- Golden raspberry crostata with what seemed like a marscapone-like filling, with red raspberries and coulis on the side. The crust was amazing- hard to cut into intially, but it wasn't tough, just more like a cookie. Filling was light, airy, and not too sweet. Raspberries and coulis on the side didn't add much, but I really liked the whole thing.
With two glasses of wine, the bill came to $70 before tip. We were both full but not overly so, and I really liked the neighborhood vibe of the place. Saw someone order roast chicken, which seemed a huge portion.
I actually liked the whole experience better than A16, where the food was good, but was a little too yuppie and girls-night-out atmosphere for me. Plus, how can you go wrong when you are able to pick up a scone and a ham-and-cheese crossaint from Tartine before dinner?