Indifferent dinner at the South Park Cafe
I went to the South Park Cafe with a friend last night, and found it to be of indifferent quality, as many supposedly good restaurants in San Francisco unfortunately seem to be.
For starters, I got the Heirloom Tomato Salad ($8.95)and my friend got a bowl of Chicken Soup ($7.50).
The salad had five varieties of tomatoes, but the majority of them were overripe and excessively soft. Some appeared bruised, and I thought they should have been used in a sauce or thrown away instead of being served to me in a fairly expensive salad.
The soup was well flavored, but very oily and at the same time rather watery.
For main courses, we ordered the Vegetable Couscous ($12.95) and a Duck Breast ($19) with Spiced Honey Sauce and Roasted Pear.
The main course portions were quite large. My friend (whose main dish it was) found the Couscous it merely OK. Since I'm not a big Couscous fan in general, and don't eat a lot of Couscous, I can't rate it very well, but I think I liked it a bit more than she did.
My Duck Breast was a generous portion, was slightly over cooked, and had an odd off-flavor. It was served with a roasted pear, which seemed a bit undercooked, mashed potatoes, which were fine, and baby bok choy which was perfectly cooked. The spiced honey sauce was ok, but nothing I would seek out.
As a side dish, we got an order of pommes frites with garlic aioli ($4.50). The frites were very light, almost white in color and appeared undercooked, but were still crisp and rather good. The aoli tasted good, with a nice garlic bite.
I had a glass of Côtes du Rhône ($5) which was rather sharp and uninteresting. Admittedly it was the least expensive glass of red wine on the menu, but I was in the mood for a Côtes du Rhône and would expect all wines to be of good quality in a restaurant which cares about such things.
We did not have a dessert.
All in all, I have to give South Park Cafe a rating of "Good" to "Very Good" under the old NY Times rating system of:
No Rating, Fair, Good, Very Good, One Star - Four Stars.
Traffic is the key. I used to go there two years ago when I worked for a dotcom a few blocks away. You had to get there at noon sharp or after 1pm to be seated, and the food was very good.
I am sure their traffic has dropped significantly now, thus the qulity of extremely perishable menu items like heirloom salad might have decreased...