This was my first time at the Head to Tail Dinner, and while I enjoyed most of the dishes, and I take pride in being fairly open-minded about variety meats, I have to be honest – it was a little too much offal in one sitting for me. I think the large veal brain may have done me in.
Venison heart tartare, foie gras, ciccioli brioche – this was excellent, with the heart tartare dressed in a light vinaigrette that helped keep the richness of the dish from being overwhelming (I think we were drinking a vermentino with this, which also helped significantly. This was a *very* rich dish.)
Goose intestines, fava beans, and artichokes – I thought this was great. The intestines were split and strongly resembled tofu skins in both appearance and texture. I thought this was a remarkably Chinese-tasting dish, with favas instead of soybeans, and a deeply reduced goose stock (I think) sauce that had the umami of soy. This also had little circular tube pastas that looked more like intestines than the intestines did.
Big brain, little brain, with asparagus – a veal brain and a veal testicle, each breaded and fried. I was only able to eat the breaded portions of the brain – the center part was just too fatty for me. The testicle was better – it had a firmer texture that reminded me of sweetbreads more than anything.
Cordedda with peas, mint, and sheep’s milk polenta – a pig intestine stuffed with sheep liver, kidney, and spleen. I liked the liver and kidney, and even the intestine (I’ve been wary of pig intestines ever since I was a child – I do *not* think it’s nice to tell kids that intestines are noodles), but I can’t handle spleen. Something about the texture. I did polish off the polenta.
Coffee & doughnut – a pork blood and espresso hot chocolate (quite good, although I was distracted by the slight graininess – chocolate or blood? Chocolate or blood?) and a doughnut filled with a pork liver and chocolate ganache (really more delicious than you would think).
Overall, a good meal, but I would have appreciated independent components of it more had my other courses been, say, a plate of spaghettini with tuna heart and egg, followed by a plate of spaghettini with tuna heart and egg. I will continue to order offal dishes at Incanto, because they still do them better than any other place I’ve been, but I don’t plan to have five of them in rapid succession again.
Pic 1: Venison heart tartare and foie gras
Pic 2: Goose intestine, fava, artichoke
Pic 3: Big brain, little brain
Pic 4: Coffee and doughnuts
Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131
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