The Metro Cafe Report
Had a friend in town tonight and he wanted some French food so we decided to give the Metro Cafe a try. It's in our hood so we were really hoping it would be good. Got there around 8:30pm and we were seated instantly. The place was nearly full.
We were given some baguette and butter. As I look back now, I should've known that any French restaurant that would serve such horrible, bordering on stale baguette could not, and would not be good. Having had a fresh ACME baguette earlier in the day, I had a pretty recent recollection of what a delicious baguette should taste like.
My gf and I ordered a bowl of onion soup and so did my friend. It was a good bowl of soup. Very cheesey and oniony. My faith had been restored in the meal ahead.
And then the entrees came. I had ordered the provincal seafood stew with fresh bay scallops, "prawns", mussels, & fish in a lobster stock ($16). What arrived was absolutely horrid and severely disappointing. The supposed prawns were certainly previously frozen tiger shrimp. Is it just the places I'm going, or does it seem like every time I see prawns on a menu, they usually just end of being previously frozen shrimp? (With the exception of delicious amaebi I've had at some sushi spots.)
I had thought about getting the mussels, but then saw this dish and thought it might be more interesting, and it had mussels too so I figured it would satisfy my craving. There were approximately 5 mussels in the stew. These were the smallest mussels I've ever seen. The meat of the mussel was about half the size of a dime. Quite possibly about 25 cents worth of mussels.
The "fresh" bay scallops were dried our and chewey. And the fish was also dried out and bland. As for the lobster stock, it was muddy and utterly unappealing in flavor. The overall portion was rather small and I'd say I probably ate about 20-30% of it at most.
My gf ordered the braised lamb shank with ratatouille. The portion was huged and it looked promising, but the lamb was very gamey and the sauce it had been braised in was a bland tomato and rosemary . The ratatouille was nothing impressive either.
My friend had a double order of escargot. The escargot came on plate fried with garlic and shitake mushrooms. They were not in their shells. I tasted one and it was tender and tasted of garlic. I have nothing against escargot, but I doubt these were fresh. My friend was really happy with them and I'm happy for that at least. I would have rather gone somewhere else for sure, but I was trying to be accomodating. I often find myself thoroughly disappointed when I compromise my standards though.
We had a nice bottle of French red, something Hermitage from Rhone. It was one of the few highlights of the meal. The order of frites were also pretty good. They were fried properly at least, with a nice crunch. But I'm also pretty sure they came frozen from a bag.
The bill came to $103 before tip. I ended paying $80 for what was really a very crappy meal. Had I known my friend wanted to go out for an "expsensive" meal tonight, I would have planned accordingly. I would have made a rez at NOPA or something. For the same price there we could have had a delicious feast. These things happen unfortunately... Anyway, I wouldn't recommend The Metro Cafe.
Interesting, we eat there fairly regularly and have never had food as bad as what you describe. On occasion its been boring but not full out bad. And we've done their NYE dinner several times and really enjoyed it.
But I think they may suffer from the same a problem as many SF restaurants - inconsistant service, spotty menu and high prices.
We noticed ages ago that if you order a la carte at Metro Cafe, it can get pretty pricey withouth sufficient ROI so we tend to call & confirm the fixed price meal is something we want. When we do that, our bill for two tends be much lower.