Tonight I went to one of the places on Paul H's list of French cafes and bistros. I would definitely put Le Petit Robert in the bistro category, although the interior was quite unique, and much more San Francisco in character than French. I understand that the restaurant went through a renovation in order to cut down on the noise level soon after opening, so there were huge murals on one of the walls, and on the ceiling there were thick, soft white pillow-looking noise sponges.
My friend (a famous wine sales professional) and I started with the halibut cheeks and the salt cod. Both were excellent. The halibut cheeks were large, lightly breaded, and cooked to perfection. They were served with a fennel salad. The salt cod was spread over slices of toasted French bread. The toast was maybe a bit too crunchy, but we enjoyed the delicate flavors of the cod nonetheless. With these dishes we had a glass of 96 Bott Freres Riesling, which I preferred, and a glass of 01 Kuntz Bas Pinot Blanc, which my friend liked as she wasn't a fan of the slight petrol character of the 6.5 year old Riesling.
The next course included two wonderful lamb chops served with some minted fava beans. The lamb was very flavorful, actually quite strongly flavored, and was cooked to a perfect rose color. The fava beans were a good accompaniment and were very fresh and nicely textured. Along with this we tried a delicious cauliflower side dish that was baked with bread crumbs, cheese and cream.
We also had to order the steak tartare, because of Greg's recent inquiry, and also because I had never tried it in San Francisco. To my taste, the meat was very good, but there were a few too many capers that detracted from the flavor of the beef. However, my friend liked the amount of capers and had no complaints. I had attempted to order some frites (fries) with this, but either the server didn't hear me or he forgot to enter the order into the computer, but nonetheless, this was already lots to eat. The portion sizes were just right without being too big.
With the lamb and steak tartare we had a 00 Rocks and Gravel Rhone blend that I thought was too bretty on its own, but worked well with the lamb and also with the cauliflower dish. A glass of a 00 Sancerre rouge (can't recall the producer) was what I preferred with the steak tartare.
Overall I thought the food and service were very good. It was a fun night out at Le Petit Robert.