Capp's Corner report (long)
Friday night my husband and friend found ourselves having dinner at Capp's Corner in North Beach.
I had some ideal of the restaurant from Chronicle's restaurant review, but what took place during the meals was more than just food, it was fun and entertaining as well.
A smallish family style restaurant, Capps was packed when we got there around 7:30pm. We had a reservation, but I don't think that mattered, the host didn't even bother to check his board. He sat us done on a long table with a big party already present. Because there are three of us, my husband ended up facing a stranger. At first I tried getting us a separate table, but the host said this is a family style restaurant and that everybody just sits with everybody else. Seeing that there are no other seats available we took the seats. The party already present turned out to be celebrating a birthday, and there are some very friendly Australians present as well. We chit chat through out the meals and even sang happy birthday to the birthday boy. The mood was so friendly and festive it's easy to over look some of its shortcomings (though you can consider them "charms").
The menu consists of two price prix fix menus, $14.95 and $16.95. All meals come with soup, salad, bread, entree and spumoni (sp?). Depending on the type of entree the price differs. I ordered chicken parmesan, my husband had the Italian sausages and my friend had the baked eggplant. All three entrees came with steamed vegetables and a small side of pasta.
My chicken was excellent, pounded really thin, it was breaded and probably pan fried. The meat was juicy and flavorful. My husband's Italian sausages were sweet and a little spicy, served with some green and red bell peppers. Grilled nicely, it was a very basic sausage dish. My friend's baked eggplant seemed to me like an eggplant parmesan. It was delicious. Piping hot, it came in a creamy tomato sauce.
The not so good part (or the charming part) is that the soup and salad came in a big metal bowl to the tableside. We have serve ourselves. Both were not bad, not the best soup or salad, but decent. I guess to keep the cost down they had to do things differently. I did feel a little institutional when I was ladling out the soup into my husband's bowl :)
Overall we had a great time at Capp's Corner. I think the low price, the friendly dinning-mates and the not so bad food made Capp's a good value. I think we'll definitely be back again.
Capp's Corner 1600 Powell St
San Francisco, CA (415) 989-2589
Just went to Capp's last night, rather by accident actually. It was my boss' birthday and she had her heart set on the Gold Spike, which was closed.
Capp's seemed the next logical choice, so that's where our group of friends, family and co-workers detoured.
Tell you what... our dinner at Capp's turned out to be a really enjoyable meal!
The soup did indeed come in a big tin bowl, which starts you right into that family-style mode.
Then came the salad... iceberg with a few carrots and beets hiding beneath the pink dressing, which we all agreed seemed like a blend of italian, french, and russian.
We joked that, had we asked the waiter which dressings were available, he would have replied "italian, french, and russian" in reference not to any choice of dressings, but *the* dressing itself! :>)
The pasta came next. Some pretty limp penne, covered lightly in a forgettable marinara. Pass the cheese please!
Then, on to the entrees.
Some bellies were already beginning to bulge,
but not mine. I deliberately saved some room... And, I'm glad becasue the entrees were definitely the best part of the meal. (note: if you go, keep this in mind and save room!)
My favorite dish, in fact, the favorite of the whole table, was the 'osso buco' or lamb shanks.
After dinner we wobbled to the bar where the owner gleefully ordered his bartender serve us up a round of drinks, on the house.
We stayed a while longer, chatting amongst ourselves, which includes the owner & bartender of course. One more round for the road (gotta give something back, right?) and our night at Capp's ended up with a nice bang as the now crowded bar erupted in applause for the SF Giants who had just squeaked out a close one against the LA Dodgers.
Capp's can definitely serve up a great night
of friends and fun in a rather unique setting.
Get the osso buco, finish up with a stiff drink (or two) and you might even find youself claiming that Capp's serves up "great" food too.
re: Wendy Lai
Sounds about right.
He was an older Irish fella, forget them name (even though he insisted it was worth a free drink at a famous Irish bar in DC called The Dubliner (my wife and I lived in DC and return for visits).
He was a very entertaining guy.
Bought us a round of drinks and told us stories about when he bought the place because the "whops" wanted out of the business and he thought he could make a go of it.
Anyhow... it is the kind of place I know I could always find success looking for a casual & fun meal with friends/family.
Plus, the osso buco was tasty!
Did anyone in your party try the lamb?
Heard that's a good one too.
This type of service was the formula that kept the Bertola's chain alive so long in Oakland, San Pablo, and who knows where else. Well, and maybe the triple shots of booze for 99 cents. As a vendor, I spent a lot of time in their kitchens, and still remember the hot-tub-size vats of marinara sauce, stirred with what looked like canoe paddles. After a couple of those triple shots, you could get all filled up on the bread, soup, and salad, so the smallish entrees were almost an afterthought.
The last lonely survivor of Bertola's is a small little place on Hesperian in San Lorenzo, by the old Lorenzo theater, where you can still get a serviceable American-Italian-style meal. Mostly takeout, no bar.
I'm glad you enjoyed one of the last of the breed. San Francisco used to have many of these inexpensive/lots of food family style restaurants when this was principally a blue collar town. The stainless steel bowls of soup used to be my favorite part, too bad Capp's couldn't deliver there.
If you liked this experience, you should check out the Basque Cultural Center mentioned in the thread below.