Lark Creek, San Mateo
A late report from the Windows of Hope restaurant night on Oct. 11:
We wound up at Lark Creek in San Mateo and were pleased to see that the place was packed and all the bar seats were full of diners too. We had to wait an extra 15 minutes for our 8:15pm reservation. Luckily this put us at a window table, the same one as my last visit here a few years ago when newly opened. I say luckily because the temperature was uncomfortably warm inside, but this was remedied by opening the window a crack for some air and keeping it propped open with a salad fork. (g)
Overall, Id say it was a good meal but not great due to an inexperienced server. Our waitress was friendly but not really on the ball, as we were not informed of items sold out before we were ready to order. The special of the day, chicken and dumplings, was gone as was the 1999 Mason Sauvignon Blanc offered by the glass that we wanted to order as an aperitif. The server had to run back to the kitchen to answer my question about the origin of the salmon (farmed Atlantic). The crust of the épine-style French rolls had softened lacking the light crispiness to make them special. Nothing fatal here but these kind of details should work much smoother at this price point.
The kitchen kept its promise though and the food was as good as Id remembered. I had the grilled pork chop with sautéed beet greens with sweet red onions and baked beans. The preparation here showed more detail and finesse than that simple description implies. The chop was thick and very juicy with a slightly sweet glaze and caramelized grill marks. The greens were delicious and well-seasoned with some elusive spicing, but the beans were underdone and overly hard. Peter had the catch of the day which was Hawaiian walu (oil fish). This was very tasty and perfect doneness with heirloom tomato salad piled on a crispy fried cake of fragrant jasmine rice.
Our wine was a well-priced bottle of 1999 Qupé Central Coast Syrah, $28. It was velvety and rich with black fruits and licorice flavors, and while too oaky for my preference, was awfully good with the grilled chop. For dessert we shared a glass of 10-year-old Blandys Malmsey Madeira.
The total for two with tax and tip was $110, a tad too high for the experience. At least we can feel good that 10% of the tab went to the Windows of Hope fund.