Man, is it ever hard to find parking around there. Despite that we still managed to arrive early for our 8:45PM reservation. They seated us almost right away even though we were early.
The menu was suitably short, but I was a little confused since I thought the place featured local and organic produce and there was a beet salad on the menu (not sure about the growing seasons here, but I always though beets were in season in the fall and winter?) as well as an arugula salad (again, in Canada it's a summer and fall thing but I'm not sure if the growing seasons differ here?).
We ordered the grilled chicken livers and the arugula salad to start. The arugula was a bit tough but peppery and complemented nicely the sweetness of the carrots and tanginess of the cheese in the salad. The cucumber in the salad seemed a bit extraneous to the whole thing, but harmless overall. The dressing was supposedly a lemon cumin vinaigrette, but those flavours were practically indetectable. Overall, it was an okay salad but nothing particularly remarkable.
The chicken livers were fantastic. They were grilled to rare and paired with currants and scallions. Very tender, no grittiness, and the flavours combined very nicely. I really enjoyed these.
As mains, my dining partner had the braised Kobe brisket, which was served with polenta and spinach. The beef was very tender and flavourful -- my partner is a carnivore so he very much enjoyed this dish.
I had the pork chop, served with white bean puree and grilled asparagus, zucchini and red onions. The pork was flavourful but I would have prefered it just slightly on the medium side, while what they served was more well done so it was not as tender as it could have been. The rest of the meal was good -- perfectly seasoned and well executed.
For dessert, my partner had the meyer lemon tart, which really brought out the delicate floral and citrus of the meyer lemons. The crust was nice and buttery and short. I had the pot de creme au chocolate and that was very rich and it was a good bittersweet balance.
As far as ambience, the tables are a touch close and the room itself has poor acoustics so it gets fairly loud in the space. We didn't have to yell to converse, but it was noticeable loud. I wouldn't say it's necessarily an ideal place for a romantic date as a result.
Price-wise we thought it was very reasonable for what we got.
Probably the biggest complaint we had was the selection of wines. I chose a flight of three Italian wines and my partner had two glasses of different wines. Of these 5 wines we had, they were all below par (no structure, no bouquet, no distinct flavours, and either no or bad finish) and did not hold up to the food very well. Not sure if they have a BYOW program, but I would highly recommend choosing your own wine and paying the corkage.
Overall, however, we enjoyed the experience.
1550 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109