Five months ago I reviewed San Franciscos only restaurant that serves continental Portuguese food. If you wish to read the whole review follow the link below. Suffice it to say that Grubstake is a traditional American restaurant that serves in their words serving cooked-to-order burgers and breakfasts--as well as full meals and house-made desserts. Its a great place to go late at night for some hearty food. The back of their menu has a list of specialties that have are either exact replicas or Portuguese dishes or dishes that are inspired by traditional Portuguese dishes. The also profess that they will upon advance request, we will prepare any Portuguese dish for which we can obtain proper ingredients.
I had mentioned the restaurant to a Portuguese friend who was ecstatic to find out that he didnt need to drive down to San Jose (Sousas) or to Sonoma (La Salette) to get Portuguese food just like his mum makes. In fact, he was so ecstatic that he went down and introduced himself to the owner, Snr. Olivera, and proceeded to plot and plan one of the advanced request dinners--a dinner to which we were fortunate enough to be invited. And thus began the arrangements for the Parrilhada Mista (an assortment of fish and seafood aka the mixed grill). Unfortunately Snr. Olivera was in Portugal last week when we had our meal, but his nephew Snr. Santos took great care of us in his stead.
We started with a bowl of some tasty appetizers, which included spiced olives, Portuguese proscuitto, two cheeses and some lovely linguiça. The olives were lightly spiced, very refreshing--Snr. Santos mentioned that he got the olives from somewhere in near Santa Rosa. I am not a proscuitto person, but my dinner companions managed to dispose of the lions share rather quickly. The linguiça was really good. It has been mentioned on this forum before, but allow me to repeat. This sausage is definitely dryer and firmer than what usually passes for linguiça in the Bay Area, similar in texture to a Spanish chorizo (or chouriço in Portugal). The meat within the casings is not ground, but instead has chunky bits with a few chunks of firm fat. The seasoning is subtle and spicy, but not spicy hot. Grubstake prides themselves on their procurement of fine Portuguese ingredients. I believe it was also mentioned previously that they get their linguiça from somewhere in Tracy. And now to the rest of the meal.
The soup served was a Caldo Verde. This is Portugals national soup, if not its national dish. Caldo Verde is kale soup with potatoes, chouriço, and onion that is lightly spiced usually with just salt and pepper. I must admit that I wasnt quite sure whether the sausage was chouriço or the same linguiça that we had nibbled on earlier--chouriço is usually spicier than linguiça. No matter, the soup was good.
Finally the main entrée of Parrilhada Mista arrived. Fortunately we still had room in our bellies, because it was a big dish of Seafood for each of us. Most of the people of Portugal live close to the Atlantic Ocean, thus much of the cuisine is dependant on the sea. The Parrilhada Mista, mixed seafood, is a tradition, which depending on what is available and what is fresh, can change with the seasons. In our case, each dish contained prawns, squid, Manila clams, salmon, and lingcod plus an assortment of vegetables. A bit of salt or pepper, a bit of garlic and perhaps cooked in wine, nothing was heavily spiced. The squid was really excellent. There is nothing worse when squid is overcooked and rubbery, and there is nothing better when it has been done exactly right. This stuff just melted in my mouth. I ate everything but the item that really caught my interest, besides the squid, was the lingcod. Ive never had lingcod before, but I would like to try it again. It had a lightly sweet flavour, but was firm to the touch.
All of the above was enjoyed with Vinho Verde. Green wine, which one Portugals traditional Whites. It went well with everything we had. For dessert I had a flan. It was nice, but not as special as the rest of our meal.
As you can imagine I recommend heartily a customized menu from Grubstake. Unfortunately I cannot share with you the actual cost of the meal since this was a special treat from our friend. Please also note that they only take cash, no credit cards. This review only touches the surface of the possibilities at Grubstake, since it seems that they will prepare any Portuguese specialty if you contact them in advance and if the ingredients are available. So if you want Piri-Piri anything, Carne Porco à Alentejana, Bacalhau, or any other Portuguese food and you want it done with care, give them a call.
1525 Pine St (Between Polk and Van Ness)
P.S. I have some Sunset Magazines (the last three years or so) plus some assorted Gourmet, Bon Appetit and some assorted food related magazines to give away for free to anyone who can get to the Inner Sunset District. I am moving shortly and just hate throwing out books or magazines. Anyone interested please contact me directly at my email address. First come first served.