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Report on The Slanted Door (long) ... Cocktail Nation, take note!

Morgan | Apr 19, 200401:48 PM

I went to the Slanted Door last night with some friends from Los Angeles. We had originally planned to go to The Public, but it wasn't open on Sunday, so I'd asked the board for recommendations. They all sounded good but we decided to try the Slanted Door this time.

I thought the room was really nice--very open and spacious. Even though it was full it didn't seem crowded, and the noise level was fine--enough of a buzz to seem fun, but not so much that we had to raise our voices.

We were chatting up a storm, so I don't remember all the details of the evening, but I did snag a menu (since they're printed every day). I am really clueless about Vietnamese food, but I suspect what they serve at The Slanted Door is not exactly what you get in a neighborhood place. It seemed more like fusion food. Here's what we had:

- Slanted Door spring rolls (with shrimp, pork, mint, and peanut sauce): Huge, fresh, delicious. Two large rolls cut into thirds.

- Barbecued Willis Ranch pork ribs (with honey-hoisin sauce): Tender, not too sweet, very tasty. We got 7 of them in the one order, stacked like Lincoln Logs.

- Grapefruit and jicama salad (with candied pecans): Not at all what I expected from this description. It was mostly a pile of shredded red cabbage with a few pink grapefruit pieces on the top and some tiny pieces of candied somethings (pecans, I guess, but couldn't tell). With this and the ribs I felt as though I'd strayed into a BBQ joint (in a good way). But it was really delicious--we all loved it. Just not what I expected.

- Meyer Ranch shaking beeef (cubed filet mignon with garlic and organic red onions): Delicious. I wish there had been more--we got about five cubes for $21.50. But very good.

- Spicy eggplant (with green onion and coconut milk): Good, but nothing really special.

- Fresh Dungeness crab meat (with cellophane noodles): This was the only disappointment. It didn't really taste like anything to me. It wasn't bad, but it just didn't have much flavor (or maybe it was overwhelmed by the other things we had).

We had a bottle of grüner veltliner, but I don't remember which one (sorry--I'm a bad Chowhound!). We asked the server for a recommendation. Very nice, and went very well with the food.

We split two orders of Gianduja chocolate cake with coffee toffee crunch ice cream for dessert. Very nice, but I'll probably try something else next time. With it we ordered the suggested Quinta do Vesuvio 1996 Vintage Port, but they were out, so we got the Dow's 20-year-old Tawny Port instead. Delicious. They served it in large wine glasses, which was an interesting touch.

A special note to the Cocktail Nation: They have a short but intriguing cocktail list that features freshly squeezed juices (and not an Appletini in sight). I can't remember the last time I drank a non-martini cocktail, but I decided to order a Daiquiri. It was fantastic! Not too sweet, very fresh, very zingy. I was toying with the idea of ordering another when it hit me right between the eyes, so I didn't. I will definitely be trying more cocktails there. Really, really delicious.

The service can use a little fine-tuning. The bar server was great--very nice and funny. We ordered and about five minutes later were seated, and waited another ten minutes before the drinks finally arrived. She explained that because all the juices are squeezed to order, it takes extra time. The server we had for dinner didn't have a lot of personality, and walked by a number of times without looking at us when we first sat down, but did a good job later on.

And, finally, one complaint from the other woman in our group: She hated the unisex bathrooms. I didn't see them, but evidently there are four individual rooms that are open to anyone. From her experience, I think they'd be better off marking two for men and two for women.

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