Seeking a dinner spot that meets all the requirements -- am I doomed?
I'm planning to have dinner with a friend tomorrow night, but he's a tad on the picky side -- not about food but about waiting for a table. (last dinner I tried to plan @ Charanga, we arrived around 8:30 and were told the wait would be about 30 mins; I had no problem with that but he practically threw a fit.)
We plan to park @ St. Mary's garage and walk to the dinner location
(no more than 6 blocks otherwise he might have another meltdown and he's insisted on this specific garage)
it will be around 7pm and he doesn't want to wait
max price for entrees @ $25
and no american, californian, asian, italian, or middle eastern (looking for something different).
Our other option is to stick close to his place around 28th & Quintara (again with the same requirements).
I really want to go try Andrew Jaegger's place, but its a bit far to walk...
Basically, I'm trying to salvage any hope of a chowish dinner tomorrow; and I don't want to end up at some crappy place like we did last time after he nixed Charanga.
I ended up convincing Mr. Picky the short walk over to Andrew Jaeger's spot was just the ticket to work up an appetite. So we did finally end up where I wanted to go, and boy am I glad we did.
First off, the service was excellent. When the bread was brought to our table, the server mentioned that he'd included a few pieces of the cornbread for us to try. I believe this was exactly the perfect cornbread I'd imagined... with chunks of corn kernels, sausage, and another item I couldn't quite identify (fresh jalepeno?). The hint of smokyness in the rich cornbread, with its texture just moist enough without crumbling apart and not overly dense, complemented the pan crustiness on the outside and created an amazing experience. Next time I visit I'll be sure to order the cornbread.
We ordered the jambalaya as well as the panned chicken. My dear friend J had never had (real) jambalaya before, so this was something new. Although he expressed hesitancy about new foods, he had no need to worry. J relished the smoky heat, enjoying the plentiful shrimp, crawdads, mussels, scallop, squid, fish, sausage, etc. He gave me a taste of the well balanced jambalaya -- but only a taste because I showed him the secret to the "stew" (mopping up the last drops of delish with a hunk of bread).
I had ordered the panned chicken, partly because it was something I wanted to try, but mostly as a back up in case J + jambalaya = refusal to consume food at the establishment. I suspect the panned chicken is not one of the best items on the menu... although it came out alright it seemed to be only average. Probably a viable choice for picky eaters. Because breast meat is more difficulty to keep moist and tender, I could tell they tried -- but what came out was something just a hair away from dry and tough. I'd expected it to have some crisp and crunch (at least at the edges), but the chicken I got had not achieved that state yet. And the "spices" were not as bold as I'd hoped for -- actually I could barely detect them.
Finally, some of the rice that came with both our orders seemed to be a tad underdone; not enough to warrant a send-back, but enough for me to notice. Maybe it was intentional for the jambalaya so the rice wouldn't turn into mush, but I really noticed it with the chicken as well.
All in all, I might go back for another try, and order the cornbread next time. This place is more suited to a casual dinner, despite the entertainment and bar.
At the top of the hill on Pine (I think) is Rue LePique, it's a funky little French place run by a couple (he runs the front of the house, she's in the kitchen). It's reasonably priced and they are very sweet...it's not going to win any Michelin stars, but it was always a go-to place for us when we lived in that neighborhood.
You could also try b44 in Belden Alley - it's Spanish - or Sam's for fish. Cafe Prague can be fun, but service is Iron Curtain esque and you have to order wisely.
Given the location I think it is Rue Lepic
It gets a positive post every now and then on Chowhound and an occasional 'eh' post. More positive than negative opinions. I don't remember ever reading a pan about the place. Sounds like a good neighborhood place.
Until I linked to the webpage above, I never knew the owner/chef was Japanese with that having some influence it says on the food.
I wonder where the OP went and how it turned out.
Take him to Tommy's Mexican on Geary and order a pitcher of Margaritas.
Other then that I'd take him to an "old people's place" for fussy diners. Isn't there an old school French place out in West Portal? I can't remember the name but as a friend said, "it was like walking into a different decade," and at 40 they were the youngest by at least 15 years. This sounds like the sort of place you want to go.
Hmmm ... I didn't say it quite that, uh, assertively, but yeah ... that only leaves French in that neighborhood which also may not meet the criteria of something different ... and prime-time tonight isn't going to be easy in that nabe.
I don't know of the OP caught this but in the Hilton across the street from the garage is Restaurant Fifty Seven. It is Mediterrean leaning on Italian, but there is some interesting stuff on th menu and I REALLY have to think you won't have to wait at all.
I haven't tried it yet but it is on my list ... not high because, well, it's a Hilton ... however, some of the Hilton's have had decent restaurants and if under the right set of circumstances I might give it a try.
The other thing is that I have a bad knee so walking long distances isn't my thing. I do think that Andrew Jaeger is under your six block radius. It is uphill, but not that far from the garage.
Just as close is Impala a Mexican joint where I only had the Margarita. At seven pm it might not be swinging yet. It is a stomping ground for the 20 - 30 crowd, but that might be a little early for that scene.
re: Robert Lauriston
Don't forget ... no Italian, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc.
This just seems sadistic. Pick a parking garage in the middle of all the nixed options and no waiting on a Saturday night prime-time. It's almost like he looked around the area, and made sure he put anything nearby on the list.
IMO ... and I don't like to walk, Andrew Jaeger is in walking range. I would walk there from the garage. Really, it can't be over 6 blocks, though it is uphill.
Beldon Alley joints eliminating the Italian one might be the best bet, but I'm not sure about a wait on a Saturday prime-time.
Don't know how it is, but there is restaurant Seven Fifty in the Hilton near the garage which is Mediteranean, but that mainly means Italian and Mideastern with California influence and you'd have to stick to the vegetarian options for the most part to meet the price requirement. But I'm positive there wouldn't be a wait.
re: Robert Lauriston
If American, California, Asian, Italian, and Middle Eastern are out, Jeanty at Jack's (which is very good) is about the only choice on that list.
Bocadillos and Cafe Prague are within walking distance.
Better yet, ditch the high-maintenance friend and go to Perbacco by yourself. ;-)