While my boyfriend was eating at Nate's BBQ with a friend - I opted to try Range out for myself. I walked in and was promptly seated at the bar. I was struck by the decor - i thought it was beautiful, the pale wood, the soft lighting. It was classy and elegant while still being casual.
I ordered a glass of their Pinot Noir from the bartender, while i looked over the menu. I ended up ordering their chicken liver mousse with frisee salad as an appetizer, and for my entree I ordered their half roasted chicken with an almond, mushroom and ancho cress bread salad with meyer lemon vinaigrette. Normally I don't order chicken at restaurants, and stupidly i ordered it for both courses - but I find it hard to not order Chicken liver anything when I see it on a menu, just to check out how its prepared. As for the chicken entree - it honestly seemed like the least predictable thing on the menu (to me). Everything else has either been served (or a variation of) at restaurants i've worked at, or are similar to things on the menu at the restaurant I cook at now.
My chicken liver mousse came - I was suprised to see that my "frisee salad" consisted of a small tuft of frisee the size of a few cotton balls. No worry though - it was delicious and dressed with thinly sliced chives, which went very well with the richness of the mousse - i only wished there was more of it! The bartender poured me a taste of the Louis Roederer Rose, to offset the butterness of the mousse - and it was just that - very buttery and heavy. But wonderful. It was prepared traditionally - in a ramekin, slightly chilled, with a few toasts alongside.
It was good - but I wish i'd ordered something else.
Next came my Chicken entree. It was beautifully prepared - really crispy skin, juicy meat with a small "bread salad" in between the two thigh pieces. I didn't see much of the "meyer lemon vinaigrette" that was stated on the menu - although everything tasted alright, I thought it could benefit from another sauce - an aioli? even an extra drizzle of the vinagrette would've made the dish just that much better. The skin of the chicken was just a touch too salty for my taste - but it was crispy and perfect otherwise.
As for the bread salad - it consisted of croutons (made from the same bread used in the toasts, and for the table bread) lightly sauteed oyster mushrooms and a few sprigs of ancho cress. Oh yeah, and about 3-4 slivers of almonds. All the flavors went together well - but there was a huge amount of chicken compared to the tiny amount of bread salad.
All in all everything was solid - well prepared, looking flawless, strong flavors - but I was a victim to over-hyping!! I can't believe this restaurant has a Michelin star alongside Chez Panisse. Its not a bad restaurant, its just not better than SO MANY other restaurants that don't have stars. This is only one person's opinion from one snap judgement made from one meal - and i'm not arguing about it - but the whole michelin guide would benefit from a vast re-editing and re-critique of the restaurants they chose to put in there - oh yeah, not to mention all the obvious typos and factual errors included in it. Lets just wait and see how different the 2008 edition is.
I agree about the Michelin star - I do like Range quite a bit, but I am a bit perplexed about why it was one of the very few SF restaurants to garner this honor.
I say its worthy, there may be others that are too, but thats beside the point. I was there for dinner Friday and loved the food. The chicken was as you described. The halibut was excellent with pancetta and fingerling potatos. The steak was very good. I had a braised leek appetizer with melted chedder and a perfectly poached egg that was out of this world. The raw scallops were great, too. For me its not just the flavors, but the quality of the execution. I have never had a dish there that wasn't cooked perfectly-from a poached egg to a medium rare steak.
re: Chris Rising
I had that leek dish last week too. OMG, that was one of the best things I've ever had. I tried to replicate it at home with little success.
Every dish I've had there has been great, but my husband has often been ambivalent. He's a red meat guy, and I don't think that is their strong suit. It is a menu that I tend to take a long time with.
The prices are very reasonable for the quality of the food. We typically spend about $50 per person for apps, dinner, wine and it's worth every penny.
I went there almost a year ago and found the food inconsistant, meaning "my" food was just great, couldn't be better, and my dinner partner's was just so-so. We both agreed about that. (I can't rememeber the items.) But boy the good things were really good.