Howdy hounds... This past Saturday night found us wandering the Mission (around Howard and 24th) after a gallery opening on Balmy Street.
We had planned to just walk around 'til we found something, but it was almost 10pm, and I was afraid we would miss dinner hour if we didn't find something soon. After passing by the Cuban/Puerto Rican place, we walked past a cute little place called "Lorca" on the corner of S. Van Ness and 24th. No sign to speak of, but it's easily distinguishable as the only "fashion" eatery in the neighborhood.
Pretty decor, nice little bar area up front (think Absinthe, except 1/3 the size) with live music (one of us thought the music was too loud).
We ordered a bottle of Rioja (La Volpa??) which was fairly light as Riojas go, but with good fruit and balanced acidity. There was a California Rioja I kind of wanted to try (it's 100% Tempranillo) but my S.O. said "No California Rioja!"
A hearts of romaine salad was satisfactory,with several cherry tomatoes just BURSTING with flavor, and what appeared to be little baby "watermelon" slices - beautiful pink inside, light green around the edges.
The heirloom tomato salad was yummy - but I'm a tomato freak, and this is my favorite time of the year. Too many places OD tomato salads with overpowering dressing, but Lorca's was very light, tasty. Came with delicious croutons - on the side!
Our friends both ordered the braised chicken with celery root and apple "confit". Though I didn't get a bite, they both cleared their plates, and said it was delicious.
My S.O. and I ordered two appetizers and one entree to share (my favorite new approach to dining). The shrimp in garlic and white wine is a staple, but they were exceptionally rendered here. Large prawns, fantastic flavor, perfectly cooked. I was really impressed, since these can be VERY ordinary.
Fried calamari were just so-so. The lemon aioli they came with was good, though.
The filet mignon was, in a word, stellar. Split and stuffed with gorgonzola, and served with a red wine reduction. A very unique combination delivering a power-pack of flavor. The cut itself was divine, earthy, perfectly cooked. I thought it might be organic beef -- just had that delicious "corn-fed" flavor.
By this time, we were stuffed, but couldn't resist the "orange flan". It was more lemony than orangey, to my palate, but it was delicious. The texture, however, left something to be desired.
By this time, it was midnight, and our server STILL wasn't rushing us. In fact, when he brought out our bill, he included a round of complimentary mint liqueur. Now, I HATE creme de menthe, but this stuff was otherworldy. Smooth, sweet, completely palate cleansing. The ultimate digestive.
After all this, the total bill per person (including a generous tip) was $33. UNBELIEVABLE!
The place has gotten some pretty crappy reviews for service on citysearch, but if you're willing to be laid back, relax, and eat "European Style", it is nothing to complain about.