1. Some things are brilliant, some are merely very good (on a SF scale)
2. Don't sit facing the tv
3. Don't drive to RNM and park in my driveway or I'll have you towed
First, I was very sad when Pasta Pomodoro (gasp!) left the Lower Haight. I was a good place to get a dependable meal for a mere $15.
I was one of the neighbors who objected to RNM getting a full liquor license. Since Ms. Miner didn't bother to tell anyone what her plans were, we had no idea that she was going to be charging $9 for a cocktail (in the lower haight?!), only serve drinks with food and close early thus she wasn't likely to be adding to the 12-2am nightly carnage.
As a long-time resident, its annoying that we have virtually no retail but I can get stinking drunk in 10 places w/i 2 blocks of my house. Ok, I don't mind that I can get drunk 'cause I'm so well behaved, but I mind the "slumming" galoots parking in my driveway, getting drunk, yelling, throwing up on my sidewalk (We nicknamed the alcove between the bay windows & front steps of my house the "vomitorium" since people seemed magnetically pulled to throw up there every weekend until I took out the plants, concreted it & fenced it), and least but not least - having sex on my neighbor's steps (its all true).
Anyway, I'm predisposed to not like anything that will bring even more people to the Lower Haight. (Note: I'll head off a reply or two by saying - I mostly love the Lower Haight; it wasn't as extreme when I first moved here; moving would be financially disasterous).
We had our first dinner there in 2002. We had reservations and went at 8pm with two friends before Michael & I had a redeye flight to Costa Rica. The food was very good but the experience was terrible.
The host was a snot. The place was so overbooked there was a mob of people squeezed by the stairs, staring at us, willing us to leave. It was really loud so it was hard to visit with our friends. I wanted to leave (final prep before our flight) but due to the pacing of the meal, that didn't happen - even though we had ordered "I'll have this and that", they brought us each dish as if we were sharing it, one at a time. If they had just brought, all the apps at once and all the mains at once, then maybe we coulda had dessert or left an hour earlier. And the real problem was that we were with picky eaters so they wouldn't touch the stuff we ordered and had to sit there starving waiting for their dish. Maybe we should have been more explicit in our pacing instructions, but I thought we were clear so assumed that they weren't doing it on purpose but were in the weeds, as they say. Needless to say, even though the food was good, I wrote the place off.
Then last Saturday, on our walk up the hill to Le Metro Cafe on Divis (good, dependable neighborhood place with nice staff), we stopped to look at the menu of RNM. Some very yummy looking things were offered, so we stepped in and were immediately seated.
What a difference a few years and an earlier seating (6pm) makes.
The host was pleasant. The place was never more than 1/3 full, the music was lowish, I pointedly sat facing away from the tv. Can I say that I just don't get that part of their decor - a tv showing cool old movies without sound? Maybe its a good first date place or
conversation starter? But tvs are very mesmerizing/ distracting so I don't know why they have a place in a "nicer" restaurant. While we were there, Star Wars was on. Michael & I did recount our first SW viewing but then it led to a really creepy statement from Michael, "You could have been my babysitter". Which led
me to congratulate myself with having married a man much younger than myself - so he could be my babysitter later. Which creeped us both out.
On to the Food
They have a $25.00 Prix Fixe Menu (Tues-Sat 5:30-7:00PM) which we ordered.
fall arugula salad of baby beets, page mandarins, warm chevre "truffles" and toasted walnuts with cabernet vinaigrette (9.) and ahi tuna "niscoise" - rare seared ahi with a salad of tatsoi, fingerling potatoes, green and yellow wax beans, cherry tomatoes and niscoise olives with caper mustard vinaigrette & a quail egg (18.) and molten chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream & espresso creme anglaise (7.)
grilled hearts of romaine with anjou pears, saint agur, toasted hazelnuts and a champagne vinaigrette (8.) and san danielle proscuitto, fontina cheese (I think), mint and fava beans with lemon oil & ground red pepper (14.) and strawberry napolean (with ricotta cheese filling) (8.)
We each had a glass of wine with dinner. I had a glass of port between dinner & dessert. Michael had a double cap. Our bill with tip was $95.
My meal was brilliant - the grilled romaine was wonderful, the plate was hot so it slighted melted the cheese, the vinaigrette was right on, the hazelnuts were a marvelous accent. My pizza was perfect
(although New Yorkers might want to request "well done"). My dessert was light, refreshing and thoroughly tasty.
Michael's meal was...nice. We shared everything so he wasn't bitter but his salad was merely nice. The tuna dish was...nice...but it was so salady it was like an ordering error - he felt like he had two salads and a dessert instead a starter, entree and dessert. He kinda
wished he had order the "white castle burgers & fries". And his dessert...well, Michael always orders the chocolate dessert, no matter what it is, and everyone has a molten chocolate cake on their menu (is
it a law?). He thought it was...nice but he loves the molten chocolate cake at Luka's Taproom so the only thing RNM's had in its favor is proximity.
My strategy was to order the wackiest stuff on the menu. That doesn't always work but it did at RNM. I recommend it.