I received a card in the mail for $20 free food at Palomino.
I received this unsolicited in the mail. A friend of mine also received one recently. It seems if you go to their website (below) and sign up for their Premier Dining Club, they will send you an e-mail good for $20 at dinner. They also send you other freebies from time to time.
I've avoided this place since it opened because it just looked like it wasn't going to be any good. Reports from Chowhound seemed to confirm the food at this chain restaurant was medicore.
The website says the chef, Mark Awada, worked at many top restaurants in Minneapolis before becoming sous chef at Palomino, Minneapolis. He then became the executive chef at the SF location.
All I can say is that if you are sending offers for free food in the mail, you should be confident that the food is good enough to bring people back.
On the positive side, it is much better than Gordon Birsh (where I threw away my OWN money ... once). If you want a nice view to throw down a few brews or drinks, I'd pick this over Gordon.
The food was mediocre, as reported. If the same care went into preparing the food as goes into the menu descirptions of the food, you might really have something.
I started with the Portabella mushroom soup which was described as 'fresh portabella and crimini mushrooms, caramelized onion, cayenne, fresh leeks, sherry cream"
It came with a startling raspberry swirl. I looked back at the menu to see what the heck that was. Hmmm, probably the sherry cream, I guessed. I was half way through when I realized sherry isn't red. Soup was better than Campbell's cream of mushroom. There was a floury undertone to the soup.
The worst was the bread. It reminded me of Olive Garden's bread sticks in loaf form. That same sort of frozen bread baked in the oven. It was flecked with some sort of green herb, the flavor of which didn't assert itself enough to be identifiable. The bread was accompanied by a small white crock of canned chopped tomatoes. What are they thinking? Glancing over on other tables, it seems the brushetta has these same tomatoes.
Oh wait. I found it on my menu. It is supposed to be rosemary ciabatta. "We proudly serve our rustic ciabatta bread and our signature housemande tomato-kalamata olive relish".
The olive was MIA. I know ciabatta. This was no ciabatta.
I tried the "Famous Paella". Never order an item in a restaurant that has the word "famous" in it. All the protein in this dish ... chicken, chorizo, scallop was dried out. The flavor was covered up by the spicy rice, except for one clam which asserted itself over the spice and the Palomino Amber Ale that I had with this. It didn't assert itself in a good way. It seemed there was an amonia taste to the scallop, but the spice flavor thankfully won on this bite. A few of the canned tomato pieces were thrown in for good measure. Skip this dish. Really.
The "Famous Tiramisu" was ok. The marscapone had the texture of marshmallow fluff, the liquor was MIA (or else that clam just killed my taste buds). Not the worst tiramisu I ever had. Edible, but there are better ways to spend $6.95.
The outdoor patio was pleasant as the weather was nice. There are heat lamps for colder times. If you eat outside, before you start, ask the waitstaff to clean off the table. It seems the pigeons flock to the table the minute people leave. They later tap dance across empty tables. One over eager flying rat knocked over and broke a wine glass.
It seems a good place for children as two boys raced around the patio playing hide and seek in the plants without disturbing the ambiance too much. I think the "Pony Menu" is for kids.
I have to agree with one citysearch poster who said the clientel was a million yuppies who is each the single most important person in the whole world. Whew there was one couple there who looked like the Thurston Howell and Lovey of the new millenium. Then there was the cowgirl ... sorry, I don't usually review the crowd, but really.
The service pleasant and gave you long periods of time to enjoy the view. Long ... long periods of time. If you want a place to sit back for a few hours enjoying drinks on the patio and the view, here's the place. The waitstaff will not pressure you to leave.
On the other hand, I was never informed of the specials. I really wanted salmon. I would have ordered the white asparagus. Both these dishes are on the website. I never heard of them.
They have one of those fun looking drink lists, but the mojito's I saw on some of the tables looked a bit lame. You could get mojitos in five flavors, mango being one I remember.
The Ten Sage looked interesting. Described as tanqueray no. TEN gin, fresh sage leaves, fresh lime sour and a splash of passion fruit alize.
Then there's the Isaac Newton "Martini" with Malibu rum, and Apple pucker, pineapple juice, fresh lemon sour and hints of Orgeat.
The pizza's looked terrible. Like those ones you used to be able to buy at drive-in theatres.
It is baked in their "Old World Brick Oven". The menu says "Our European-style hearth oven maintains even, high temperatures to seal in natural juices and import unique seared flavors. Designed in the manner of the ancient bread ovens of Pompeii" The pizza is described as coming from their partnership with Dinonzio Oresta at La Sacrestia in Roma, Italy. Mixed reviews on citysearch about the pizza.
All in all the place was somewhere between Olive Garden and Bucca di Beppo ... with a view. I have no idea what that means. It's good enough that I would accept another free offer, but other than that ....