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Restaurants & Bars 4

Jeanty at Jack's, Financial District, SF

Limster | Mar 20, 200201:53 AM

If I ever dined with a woman in the lovely mezzanine in Jeanty at Jack's, one can be sure that I was irrevocably in love with her. This isn't the place for lesser passions.

I've been dying to eat there after the raves of Bistro Jeanty here, and the more recent praises on a couple of threads. And tonight I dined in this classy but unfussy place. This multi-leveled restaurant is cozy and charming in a nostalgic way, yet absent of any old school brass or opulence. The lights aren't turned low and it isn't candle-lit. Instead, the bright air carries a clean and spare elegance. Sitting at the handsome bar, I half hoped and half expected that Audrey Hepburn would glide through the door in a graceful black gown.

The dishes here are a declaration of love to classic French cooking. Afterall, no setting could be more perfect. The kitchen relies on straightforward receipes and careful, precise technique to turn out dishes that are exactly right. That's right, no seared ahi on the menu.

Instead there's pig's feet, foie gras, lamb's tongue, rabbit and other out of the way parts that are delightful but rare around here.

I enjoyed was a well tuned appetizer of pigs feet, presented as three packed cubes that are provided a few spots of tender meaty fibers amid the firm, satisfying gelatin. With this comes the light kiss of acid from a light vinaigrette, a verdant touch from fresh green beans, and slivers of soft and sharp crunch from shredded cabbage. A marvellous balacing act of flavors and textures.

The main dish consisted of pink juicy rabbit, pleasantly peppery and ever so faintly gamey (oh how I *love* that!). Sharing the stage are sweetbreads that add their own wild, gray flavor to the mix. These flavors are nicely heightened by the sauce that is artfully laced with truffle oil. Again immpeccable execution, right down to the al dente twists of pasta and soft white beans that share the plate.

Then a cheese - a vacherin du mont d'Or (I hope I got that right) with rich runny smoky (almost hammy) flavors that are paired with a dark mixed fruit of dark red complexion. Tartness on cream, another classic combination lives again.

Dessert is almost a variation on this tart and rich theme, an exemplary rice pudding, creamy, yet filled with well articulated grains. Would have merely been fine, if not for the rich fruitty bursts from the stewed cherries, running boozy all over the pudding, a mingling of flavors, from the alcohol's kick to the gentle faint complexity of the pudding.

It's a Tuesday, but the place was almost full. The bartender was working hard all evening (martinis seem to be a favorite, naturally), but it didn't stop him from taking good care of his customers. What impressed me most was that he always carefully inspected the food going to the bar. With the baskets of bread, he threw out ugly looking pieces, and asked for the (excellent) baguettes to along with the sourdough. This is emblematic of the very polished service, and I'm sure, a point of pride for the proprietors.

Dinner here is not flirtation, it is true and deep affection. Definitely a place to go before the crowds descend once the newspaper reviews come out.

P.S. Tab came to $58.12 (incl. tax but not tip), for everything above and a nice juicy glass of Cote du Rhone. It's not cheap, but it's fairly reasonable, considering how unique this place is among the French restaurants in town.


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