Had dinner at Le Bistrot on California (between Jones and Taylor) last night. Prices were appropriate for the food (most expensive entree was about $16, I think), and the food was fine, although there wasn't much that would make this place stand out.
I had a duck confit salad with mixed greens, blood oranges (good match with the duck) and tiny morsels of cheese (didn't do anything exciting to the duck). Entree was a pretty good pork tenderloin with apples and calvados and mashed potatoes. The sauce was slightly spicy and rich but would have been better if the apples did more of the talking. Had a basic vanilla creme brulee for dessert.
Service was casual and friendly and well suited to this restaurant. It's located in Grammercy Tower, and looks like there were quite a number of regulars.
This place also serves some basic sushi and sashimi, but I didn't try them. I noticed that Bauer had put this place up on his top 100 for the Bay Area; while it's a nice and comfy place, I feel that there are a number of places that are better.
I think there is something funny about this place. I have been there twice, both times at the bar. Have also been to the Nob Hill Cafe several times and Venticello once (same owner). I think the owner has hit on a formula for satisfying the residents of Nob Hill. This is a certain level of service--friendly and deferential at the same time, predictable foods, ok prices. I find the execution of the dishes just adequate and would never recommend this place as a destination restaurant. If you happen to be going to the Masonic auditorium it will work because the food will be OK, and the next-door location is convenient. I just can not believe that it would land on the top 100 list (and I am not a member of the Michael Bauer conspiracy crowd here). Nonetheless, I will likely end up here again as it is location-convenient for me.
I had the pork dish, as highly recommended by the bartender. This is something I would not recommend unless you never made pork tenderloin. It was fine but boring. The meat was plain and sliced in little tender mediallions, the sauce dull. The potatoes tasted like they were out of a box. I am seriously wondering if they were instant. What they do which is rally nice is to serve sides of vegetables for $3.50. this is a large protion for one and would be good for two. I had spinach, but it tasted strongly of charred garlic and was doused with an overwhelming amount of lemon.
Another time I had the petrale sole with lemon and capers. This identical dish is served at Nob Hill Cafe. Here it was not prepared as well--very eggy coating--and the portion was smaller. I hardly touched it, yet it was taken away without a comment. Next time I will complain.
There is a certain recognizable look to the patrons--everyone is from central casting, for aerobicized blonds with designer clothing, tall tan men with open collars, and older ladies with hairdo's and furs.