After a couple of recent raves about Winterland I was checking out their website. Under news, was the following:
Restaurant will be
closing for regular
business as of
July 15, 2006.
We would like to
thank all of our
guests for their
support, and our
making it all
Arrgh! I guess I'd better get there fast!
re: Lord Griffin
I'd say, no business. This has had the most wide open reservation book, if you look at Opentable. I had dinner there last week for the first time and had contemplated returning this weekend just to experience more of the chef's creative flow. My dinner companion was text-messaging a friend in Barcelona while we were eating, he was so jazzed by the food! On Wednesday, there were only three other tables occupied the whole time we were there (8 to 11pm). What a shame.
Paul H on Winterland -
re: Melanie Wong
To add more details to my comments above, here's the photo of three of the courses I had two weeks ago with my friend Andy.
Andy described the food as very intelligent and thoughtful. I've been very impressed with the attention paid to texture and incorporating a variety of cooking techniques on one plate. Even more impressive is the chef's use of salt and pepper, employing a distinct and different type for various dishes for color and texture, as well as taste. The repetoire of peppers and chilis incorporated into the cuisine was worthy of a doctoral dissertation! They added an extra note of spicy excitement without ever crossing the line into the hot zone. Much has been said about the chef's use of foams, but for me, the use of salt and pepper was his signature.
The amuse was similar to what's being served this week except that the jelly was made with white wine and not lime. It was a more gentle contrast to the cold melon soup. When we tasted the careful balance and the tingle of the togarashi peppers, we knew we were in for something special.
We split the spotted prawn crudo that others have mentioned. One of the service flaws is that despite this dish being served in a bowl with a fairly deep gazpacho-tomato water pool, no spoon is offered. We had to ask for the proper utensil. The delicate flavors of the tomato water was my favorite part of this dish, and it's a shame that so many other guests probably didn't sip these juices for lack of a spoon.
That night, there was an appetizer and an entree that featured sea urchin sauces along with asparagus. I decided to order them together as a study of the two ingredients after confirming with our server that the two sauces were not identical.
Dusted with coarse dried flakes of red pepper and tiny hollow rings of green chives, the spears of sweet white asparagus were crowned with deep-fried duck tongues. The sea urchin emulsion was airy and delicate, whispering the taste of pristinely fresh uni. Andy reached for a spear, eating it out of hand, and commented on the firm rigidity while being cooked all the way through. The tender-crisp texture was exactly on point.
My entree was ocean trout topped with grilled cuttlefish and wild asparagus and two sauces. The black one painted on the plate was squid ink, tasting deeply briny and sharp in tone. The light orange one was the sea urchin foam, this time more concentrated in sea urchin flavor and enriched with some dairy for a luxuriously creamy texture. The cuttlefish and ocean trout were grilled beautifuly, especially the crispy smoky skin. The succulent moistness of the barely cooked through fish filet, the crackly skin, and the chewy tenderness of the cuttlefish slivers combined for a symphony of meaty textures against the silkiness of the sea urchin foam. Again, the choice of sea salt and the grating of fresh black pepper added the master's finishing touch to this dish.
The smokiness and carmelization of the carefully grilling combined beautifully with the 1993 Rene Engel "Les Brulee" Premier Cru Vosne-Romanee red burgundy I'd brought. We sent the last third of the bottle to the kitchen with our compliments to the chef. He then sent out a complimentary intermezzo, roasted fig and beeswax ice cream with a banyuls reduction, described here - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
For dessert, I had the chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and olive oil ice cream. The bittersweet South American tone to the chocolate almost made it seem savory.
re: Lord Griffin
"but now im worried about a decline in quality because it doesn't matter any more."
When I heard rumors about Daniel Humm leaving, I rushed to Campton Place and had one of the best meals I have ever eaten. If the quality had declined any, I must have missed a H*ll of a trancendental culinary experience!
The folks at Winterland are professionals, and the food will get your attention. There's nothing to be gained by worrying about quality, and much to be lost by not visiting this unique place while you still have the chance.
The location is pretty central (near fillmore and geary) and they have valet. It is walking distance from a bunch of places on fillmore which are doing well. The food was splendid. It is really a shame. Bauer did miss the boat on that one (1.5 stars for the food, what was he thinking!). What a shame.
SO SO SO bummed. I am just glad that I was able to extricate myself from the SF "usual" top spots to taste some of the amazingly inspired dishes coming out of this kitchen. The staff, chef, and owner were all incredibly nice people. This really is a loss. I have to think that the location has something to do with it. People just won't cab/drive/bus to the Western Addition/Japantown even if the food is some of the best in the City.
Here's a thought: they are open for private parties until Sept. 1. If enough of us got together, we could do a chowdown. If interested, email me at sfchaddictATgmailDOTcom. I am sure alot of us regret not getting there sooner. We could have a great dinner....