Restaurants & Bars

Pre-symphony at the Hayes St. Grill

phat_phil | Dec 8, 200308:13 PM     1

At the last minute on Saturday, ms. phil and I decided to see the Stravinsky performance. we rushed down to davies at 6pm sharp to pick up some center terrace tickets...but not until we made dinner reservations. she wanted something swanky, so we called absinthe first, but they had no space and recommended a 5:30 reservation to make the 8pm show.(!) Our second choice, the hayes st. grill, gave us a reservation at 6:45. I was concerned about making the show, and asked twice, "are you SURE we'll be okay for the 8pm show?", to which the host responded "sir, we've been doing this for 25 years, you can rest assured", with not the slightest bit of arrogance--just simple confidence.

And the entire experience at Hayes St. Grill was defined by just that -- simple confidence. We were seated promptly at 6:45, and from that point forward everything was a well-oiled machine. We ordered an appetizer, main course, dessert, and coffee, did not at any point feel rushed, and had time to digest before the show. We were so relaxed that we didn't even appreciate the feat until the next day. I can't emphasize enough how impressive it was; is there any other restaurant in SF that can move quickly with such grace?

Overall we thought it was a bit on the pricier side for what you get, but perhaps it is justified when the quality of service is taken into account. and check out the prixe fixe menu -- $25 for an appetizer, main plate, and dessert, after 7:30 only. a great deal for a restaurant where most of the main dishes are close to $20.

here's what we had. i'm still not very good at descriptions, so please bear with me.

appetizer, 1/2 dungeness crab pre-cracked shell -- no frills here, just solid crab (our first of the season) with a little bit of butter. Plus a side of greens in light vinaigrette w/walnuts, which was appreciated because the main course didn't come with vegetables.

main course, scallops in black truffle oil with I can't remember because this was ms. phil's dish. the scallops looked delicious -- they were a sort of golden color, maybe from the truffle oil?, i'd never seen scallops that color. She gave me one, which i devoured; it was smoky and a little meatier than your typical scallop, and that was a good thing. a healthy portion for our money--i think a dozen large scallops in all.

main course, petrale sole with potatoes and chanterelle mushrooms - sauteed in a lemon-butter-herb sauce. A bit too much sauce overwhelmed the fish a little. The fish had crisped at the edges, presumably because it was sauteed in so much butter/oil; again, to me it was a good thing. Not really the light dish I was anticipating; I gobbled it up nonetheless. Another large helping--four medium fillets. East Coast sized portions here only!

dessert, coconut rice pudding with rum caramel sauce - served up like a hot fudge sunday, another large portion, even for the two of us. the rum caramel sauce packed a solid punch ... hmm, add pineapple and it would have been a rice pina colada. we couldn't finish this.

general comments: the decor left a little to be desired; a little too "holiday inn restaurant" for me. that said, the bar was inviting and there were a few solo diners there. inspired by some recent articles, we ordered sparkling wine with dinner and weren't sorry...it went perfect with our heavier-than-normal seafood. a couple in our late 20's, we were decidedly younger than most of the crowd.

and if you're curious about the symphony: MTT fell ill and didn't conduct the second half; the resident conductor filled in. it sounded great anyway; from our perfect vantage point we agreed that the musicians simply played what they knew while he waved his arms and tried to look sensitive.


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