Tonight, I finally found a time when Canteen (817 Sutter Street near Jones) had free seats for my girlfriend and me. I had somehow thought that the place was so small it didn't take reservations. It took an aborted attempt to find out that it does! (Cade, lead waiter tonight, told me that the 7:30pm seating is usually reserved two weeks in advance. The other two seatings are at 6:00pm and 9:15pm.)
Wow! We had (and we just had to share) Sweet Corn Soup with spicy prawns; #1 Tuna marinated in lemon, with cucumbers, dill, and horseradish; Porcini Mushroom Fricasee with smoked onion orzo and pea puree; Lamb Shoulder Confit with chickpeas, apricots, and dried tomato. Desert: Peach Cake with verbena ice cream and Indian Pudding (an old N.E. recipe). Cade, the lead waiter, served us different glasses of wine with each course, based on what we ordered. His ability to match wines is really outstanding: For instance, he matched the Muscat (I think the Allimant-Laugner 2004) with the Sweet Corn Soup and it was perfect. GoingOutAgain found the mushroom fricasee too subtle (i.e. not tasty enough), but I thought it was smashing, particularly the combination of the pea puree and the mushrooms, although the orzo was neutral. The lamb was just plain outstanding. And the peach cake was delicious, enhanced by that ice cream.
Dennis Leary, the famous chef, pretty much stuck to the kitchen, which everyone can see but can also be watched by everyone at the counter.
We'll be regulars if we can figure out how to schedule ourselves in. It's clear that there are regulars, including one lady of advanced years who had to count out her pennies in payment but who also clearly enjoyed the lamb dish. The wait staff treated everyone exactly the same: friendly and attentive.