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parking dictates restaurant-Chez Spencer report (long)

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parking dictates restaurant-Chez Spencer report (long)

deelish | Oct 15, 2004 01:27 PM

Last night in the balmy evening air, the GF and I took off to try Foriegn Cinema for the first time with no reservation (a phone call earlier had proved hopeful, but we could not commit to timing). As we turned onto Mission from 21st, a party cablecar pulled up in front and let out a bunch of folks. We decided after circling the block and all the illegal spots were taken, it was time for plan b. I drove up Mission heading for 17th, thinking we could play the "wherever we park that's where we will eat" game, but as we passed 15th and Valencia with no parking in sight, plan c was instigated.

I steered the car toward 14th and pulled up right in front of Chez Spencer. This place was also on the "have to go" list and the idea of the patio seemed inviting. Motivation for the evening was complex... I wanted to celebrate a small victory and she was decompressing from a stressful week and we were both hot, tired and hungry. We needed professional pampering and we got it!

As we walked in, the flickering candlelight and low key ambiance overtook us, our shoulders released. We were shown to a corner table and immediately cared for with menus, beverage options, bread, butter. We could not see the menu in the darkness, so asked for another candle. One was brought with little effort and no judgement.
After we made our selections, we sat back and the evening unfolded seamlessly. We ordered:

house martini (2)
butter lettuce salad with lemon vinaigrette (2) $7
asparagus with truffle emulsion $9
marinated anchovies, bell peppers, olives, eggplant caviar $13
thyme crusted trout, wilted leeks, steamed julienne potato $26

The martinis, salads and anchovies were the clear winners and are highly recommended. Butter lettuce was perfectly dressed and piquant. Anchovies were fresh and succulent yet dry with perfect salty pairings. The asparagus was bland (what did we expect in October?) and the emulsion was mustardy rather than truffled. The trout was tasty but overcooked to me. The plating was artful and appetizing, but not showy or stiff.

I have to praise their rolls and bread/butter service. A single roll is individually placed on a lovely square side plate as a small ramekin of perfectly spreadable, just salty butter arrives. This would usually send me into a panic (thinking the bread was rationed so closely), but the minute I split the warm crusty orb and took a bite, I was in heaven. The interior was soft and chewy with great flavor and the crust had shattered deliciously into lovely crisp bites. My fears were quelled as the first roll was easily devoured, the second appeared. After we composed ourselves, we offered praise to the bread guy and he simply said "they are made special for us".

$87. + tip.
Chez Spencer
82-14th Street (Folsom) SF
415/864-2191
mon-sat, 5:30-10:30

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