Mr Smart | Mar 31, 200506:47 PM     1

Went on a weekday night with my better half. The space is still blah but I don't care much for ambience. We were fashionably late and even though the restaurant didn't seem busy, all tables were occupied so we waited 15-20 mins to be seated. (No problem).

We both had the 3-course prix fixe while briefly toying with the idea of a tasting menu. Nah, too much food. That was to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Amuse bouche: my vague recollection is that it was interesting. Bread/butter: blah, I expected better in both departments. One of my French compadres used to say that if a high-end restaurant can't put out bread and butter that's better than a bakery, it's not worth going to. French are weird and they like accordions.

Appetizers: she had the quail with I don't remember what and I had the soup the with dungeness crab ravioli. Everything is done 3 ways per the usual Michael Mina karma, i.e. 3 teenie weenie soups with midget spoons and 3 raviolis. The quail was not liked. The soups were great - wish they were drinkable (in a cup/bowl rather than a saucer) vs spoonable. As it were, the spoon was so tiny that coverage of nerve endings with soup on my tongue was a challenge. Being a never-happy-with-what-I've-got comparison shopper, I thought that the same dish at long defunct Redwood City was much better. No wonder retro is so chic.. The ravioli itself was good. I felt the crab could have been better prepared. It was excellent fare but not something worth remembering. The sauces in which ravioli was served were fantastic and they were truly what made that dish memorable.

Entrees: she had the kobe beef rib roast and I had the veal. The kobe beef was liked and the beef itself which I did try was great. I remember 2/3 of my entree - one part of the trio was a schnitzel-like veal cutlet with pasta and sauces masquerading as sauerkraut (has to be tasted to be believed) and it really was amazing. The other third was veal made into a sausage-like thingie with chantereless and appropriate sauce. Great! Don't remember the last third.

Desserts: She had the sorbet trio and I went with cheese. The sorbets were okay. The cheese was fantastic but it was not the cheese itself. It was the pairing - honeyed nuts, medjool, raisins; they were not ordinary, they were perfect. Taken together with cheese, I was hard pressed to think of a better cheese plate *pairing* on the West Coast.

We brought our own wine for a mere $30 or $35 corkage fee. I was not impressed with Mina's wine list and the cynic in me wants to say something about going with cheaper Burgundies instead of more expensive Bordeaux to allow for a heftier ROI in percentage points but I digress. It's their business and I made my choice. 3 courses will now run you $88, up from $78 a few months ago. Bastards! Tasting menus also went up to $120.

Service was good and not fussy. The only problem turned out to be the amount of food - it was too much! We were stuffed to the gills by the end of the meal. Thank god the postprandial chocolate/ice cream pops they served was off the mark or I would have been really bloated. Remember children: sharing is a good thing.

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