A report from our weekend:
Tadich Grill - Have been trying to go for years, but it is always three deep at the bar. This time we called from the Omni and were told if we could be there in 10 minutes they could seat the five of us at 7:30 on a Thursday evening. We quickly checked in and scurried over. We were seated in one of the private alcoves opposite the bar. Started with an order of fried calamari that was perfectly battered and fried, very, very fresh and came with a plate full of lemons.
Pan fried snapper with crab in a white wine butter sauce did not dissapoint, nor did the rainbow trout or the special crab/scallop baked in tomato sauce. Although the menu clearly says no substitutions, our daughter (8) confidently asked the waiter if he could create spaghetti vongole by mixing an order of the manila clams in garlic butter sauce with a side of pasta. Alas, they could not actually "mix" the dish in the kitchen. I guess it would violate a principle of not creating or making substitutions. Instead, out came a dish of pasta, the manila clams in a bowl, butter and fresh parmesan . . do it yourself vongole.
A side ceasar was pretty disapponting - limp lettuce drenched in dressing. At least it did have anchovies. And we did not care for the creamed spinach (too tangy - a hint of tartar sauce?). It was a great start to a weekend in SF. We loved the tradition of the restaurant and the completely no-frills atmosphere. Anyone reading who is in Chicago, the place reminds me of Shaws.
500 Jackson for a crowd. We had a corporate dinner on Friday night (our company bought out the restaurant). Liked the decor and the raised booths looking out onto Jackson. Appetizers, including tuna tartare, deep fried mushrooms and goat cheese, were very good. The signature chowder was excellent, but a huge portion. I suppose this was to tide us over until dinner, which was very long in arriving. As I have said in other posts, it is incredibly difficult to find a restaurant that can pull off serving hot food to 100 diners at the same time as the staff and kitchen are usually not designed for such an undertaking, attempting this at a restaurant that has only been open a few months, was pure folly on the part of our company. Even though we had all chosen from three entrees well in advance of dinner (orange dot on your name tag means scallops). It too forever for the food to come. When the day boat scallops with fennel over fennel risotto arrived, the smell of fennel was simply overpowering and the heaping mound of congealed risotto (another mistake) did not help. It's not fair to judge this restaurant in this kind of environment, so I will not.
Ferry Building - We went early and really enjoyed what they have done with the indoor space. Obviously, if you are seriously trying to do your marketing, the hordes of crowds and tourists is an impediment, but for those of us not intent on finding anything in particular, we had a great time sampling, wandering and taking in all of the sights and smells on a glorious SF Saturdat morning. I do not know the name of the crepe stand (help?) but it was worth the wait for our ham, egg and cheese crepe on whole wheat and our sauteed mushroom and cheese crepe. I could listen to their accents all day, the fillings were so incredibly fresh and flavorful and I learned a new technique for scrambling an egg right on the crepe --- that is way cool.
L'Osteria Del Forno
Not to worry - they have indeed re-opened and we enjoyed Valentine's Day dinner there on Saturday night.
The rigatoni bolognese was outstanding along with the crespelle with porcini mushrooms, pizza bianco with funghi (how do they get the pizza crust so thin), arugula wrapped in prosciutto and roast cauliflower in bechamel sauce.
I believe some have posted about the rude service . . right before we went to dinner the kids were watching the soup nazi episode of Seinfeld . . "no soup for you, come back in one year." When we got to l'Osteria there was a group of three in front of us. A table left the restaurant and the group of three entered and sat down before the hostess had a chance to clean the table. She walked over and told them to get up and wait outside because she had to clean the table, so they sheepishly got up and came back outside. I'm sorry, but we took it in stride and the kids started laughing about how it was just like the Seinfeld episode. When we got our table, we tried to behave. At one point, the hostess came over with plates for the pizza and told me NOT to touch them but to leave them in a stack on the corner of the table. I obeyed! And when she came back with the pizza, it was obvious that there was a system to the service that made her job easier. In a place with 26 seats where one of the goals has to be efficiency in order to turn the tables as often as possible both to accomodate the line out the door and also to make money, I can't get that upset about an owner/hostess who is set in her ways. Once you start talking to her (or her brother?), they are both very nice and forthcoming with suggestions about the food and preparation. Even though there was a long line, we did not feel at all rushed, just that the service was efficient.
Gold Mountain - dim sum on Sunday morning. As always, it was great. One disappointment, we kept waiting for the shu mai lady and she came after we were already full!
So, there you have it!