Chez Nous, Upper Fillmore, San Francisco
Indecisive as usual, I was torn between a couple of places (many recent mentions on this board) for dinner. Chez Nous came up (Thanks Jupiter!) and a pal of mine offered not only to join but to drive.
As you know, it's a French/Mediterrenean tapas-ish place opened by the Bay Bread folks. Long sleek space defined by stylish lines and hard surfaces. Chic without industrial. There's an bar on the side glowing electric. The mood is a stroll-in kind of casual. Easy going, friendly and very very competent waitstaff that are always there just as my glass of water needed refilling.
Of course we got the lamb chops after Jupiter's glowing recommendation. (I decided to save the fries for another time - will be a romp with mussels.) Great stuff - tender, juicy meat, well oiled but not heavy on the tongue. We loved the perfume and the salty bite of the lavender sea salt. Their hard microscopic crunch on the lamb was also quite a textural pleasure. Fave of the night.
A moroccan spiced duck confit (what dark intriguing spices!). Caramelized pears and a fruity sauce add sweetness to the mix of somewhat exotic flavors on the duck. The meat is earthy and yields easily into well articulated fibers on the tongue. Excellently brittle skin.
3 kinds of greek spreads served with thin slices of bread drizzled with olive oil and toasted wit the blessings of parsley. There's a cool tsatziki with a minty and delicate flavor from the tiny bits of cucumber. It's perfectly chilled to accentuate the cucumber. Then what seemed like a cream cheese spread of some sort, pale pink-orange and deliciously briny from fish roe (my pal's favorite spread of the 3 spreads). Lastly, a good smoky eggplant, coarsely pureed and brightened with red squares of chopped bell peppers.
A nice and very flaky phyllo triangle filled with spinach, leek and feta.
For dessert, the sorbet trio of lemon, passionfruit (needs more fruity intensity) and strawberry was OK, but the tiny curls of candied lemon peel garnish really shined.
Also an very good bombe (forgot the full name, apologies) - a dome of moderately light hazelnut mousse on a crumbly chocolate crust, completely encased in a thin layer of chocolate. A drizzle of chocolate made beautiful patterns on the vanilla sauce.
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You are welcome Limster! Reading your description totally brought back the flavor for me and now i am salivating and starving and it is only 10 am! Oh man, I am glad that someone enjoyed those lamb chops as much as i did.
Now i will have to take you up on your recomendations and make it over to Hama Ko some night before the rush...
As always, a mouthwatering account that makes me want to rush over to the restaurant.
Just so you can put a name to the "cream-cheese" dip with fish roe, it's called taramosalata. I love the stuff, but it's deadly since it is essentially a mayonnaise with carp roe.
In a perfect world, this is how Chowhound would work every day. Burke and I read this post Friday afternoon, promptly left work, drove up to the city, scored at able at Chez Nous and had a wonderful meal. From Internet to appetizer in three short hours.
Limster and Jupiter are right on target, as usual. Chez Nous was boistrous, friendly, packed (at 7:30 we had a 45 minute wait) and delicious. We hadn'd had much of a lunch, so we were hungry--what better way to eat tapas?
The short version, tapas by tapas:
Cheese Plate: three cheeses, including a lovely blue, an herbed goat and a firm pale cheese from the Pyrenees, served with thin-sliced walnut bread and fresh apple.
Phylo-wrapped feta and spinach triangles: The best item of the evening, we both agreed. A dash of leek contributed nicely. The phylo was very well handled--crispy, not oily, flaky without being dry.
Sauteed Spinach: In lemon and oil, with pine nuts and golden raisins. Works perfeclty with lamb chops.
Lamb Chops: No further comments needed, Limster and Jupiter said it all. Love that lavender salt. Oh, and I burned my fingertips on the bone when I grabbed it too quickly. OUCH!
Calamari Salad: Our server said, "Don't leave without it!"--she was right. Tender, non-rubbery squid in frisse with mandarin orange wedges and a olives. Burke went mad.
Spinach Gnocchi: All gnocchi should be this tender and light (light gnocchi? yes!), full of texture rather than weight, flavored with gorganzola and apples.
Rabbit: A well prepared rabbit, meaty and delicious. The loin especially was solid.
Phylo AGAIN: We liked it so much we had a second order!
Pot au Creme, Chocolat: A failure, I fear--far too heavy, gelatinous, little chocolate flavor.
Warm Gingerbread Cake: Gorgeous, spiced and warming, the best dessert by far! Served with candied nuts and orange slices.
Cannelles: A special FREE DESSERT because we made friends with our server, and she wanted to make up for the poor Pot au Creme. A Bay Bread specialty, beeswax and honey cakes, served warm on creme caramel and creme anglaise. Oy!
Shortbread Cookies: A SECOND FREE DESSERT which blew my socks off--so buttery!--but I'm biased, since a butter cookie is my favorite cookie of all.
Cappuccino: frothy and good.
Obviously we had a fine time. Total bill? $84! I consider that cheap--we were stuffed. Left a big tip, too, obviously.
Thanks for tip, Limster and Jupiter! It's in our regular rotation now.
re: Burke and Wells
Good to hear of your great meal.
re: cannelles - nearby galette (part of the bay breads mafia) also serves a great warm cannelle with caramel ice cream and caramelized apples. (good alternative if all you want is dessert and the line is too long).
I would have have gone for the cannelles too but we were a bit "cannelled out" - we get them (a bit too) frequently at the nearby Boulange de Cole.
re: Burke and Wells
Now THAT sounds like an AWESOME meal! way to go! Now it is 1 am and i am again starving, after my shallot oil experiment, (which worked out nicely), i will have to go back for more of those deelish chops tomorrow night. The next time you make friends with your server, you should ask him/her to see if the chef will give you a little bit of the salt to take home. We did and it was fabulous with pork chops as well as lamb...I am determined to start growing lavender now.
You are right, we should all have such luck with finding a great recommendation and having it follow through in such a short period of time. Have a great rest of the weekend,
lavendar salt - ever try the one sold at the ferry plaza farmers market on saturdays? the stand is the first on in at the SE corner - they often have lavendar bunches, a variety of wonderful vegetables, amazing heirloom tomatoes in the summer - and a lavendar salt that is sublime. check it out! (sorry i don't recall the name, and i'm too lazy to go downstairs and check my spice cabinet!)