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Jan 8, 2007 07:24 AM

Presidio Social Club (quick review)

We checked out the 8-day old PSC this past Saturday night and overall found it to be excellent value and a nice addition to the SF dining scene.

The room is quite nice and it's clear the owners invested quite a bit of time thinking through the room. The bar is all marble and the modern army barrack look is quite unique. Service was extremely courteous and friendly.

The food is pretty basic, I'd say think a more upscale Chow. Very limited menu, primarily retro-American served California style. For appetizers we tried the Tuna Poke, Gruyere Cheese Toasts (w.Tomato sauce on side) and Crabcakes. Cheese Toasts the standout, nice and buttery yet light. Crabcakes were a bit dry and the Tuna Poke was solid but not a revelation.

For entrees we tried the Pork chop and the Roasted Chicken. My pork chop was alternately a bit salty and dry, but my friend savored every last bite of his, so it's a bit uneven. Sauteed spinach sides were solid, but not nearly as good as the whipped mashed potatoes that came with the Roasted Chicken, which was excellent. The Banana Cream pie dessert was made with freshly cut bananas and was outstanding.

I strongly suspect that the food is going to continue to improve as the kitchen settles into its groove, and the prices here are right - entrees are all around $15. Excellent handmixed cocktails (Margaritas esp.) , and a well-priced and picked wine list to boot.

This chic place nestled just inside the Presidio, and the parking lot is a major bonus. While the food is not really innovative, it is quality comfort food and fairly priced, and I think this restaurant will do quite well over the long run.

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  1. I went last night -a group of five --cocktails, wine, apps and an extra entree -- $280 with tip free
    parking and full bar. There have been a number of reviews so we stuck to the items that had been universally well received and were quite happy. We shared two orders of the cheese toasts with the tomato dipping sauce. Everyone liked the gruyere toasted cheese triangles and the tomato fondue manages a summer tomato taste. Two ordered the flat iron steak, twoporterhouse pork chops, one veal stew and a mac and cheese to share. Entrees come with a choice of sides we ordered spinach, mashed potatoes and french fries - all very good with a slight nod to the mashed potatoes. It's comfort food if your mother was a great cook.
    A tiny quibble or two. The service was great up until dessert and coffee. The coffee service sucked. We were served the smallest expresso ever and of course because you could see the bottom of the cup -- it was cold. And it has taken a long long long time to get that so we didn't complain. I am 100% sure they would be responsive to any concern. According to notes on the menu -- daily specials and a happy hours are in the works.

    1. And one of the daily specials will be suckling pig!

      1. OK, little more time to write. To sum it up: an upscale Chow with good food.

        Went on the 10th night since they had opened. Sat at the bar and had excellent service. Oddly, second visit, not so good.

        This has to be the most mixed group of diners I have seen in SF: plenty of parents with very young (behaved) children, well-heeled Pacific Height denizens of a certain age, twenty-somethings in t-shirts from Lucas Films, a group of very sharply dressed business men meeting for drinks in the bar. Second visit was almost an identical group of diners.

        The building is a former enlisted men's barracks. The room almost has schizophrenia; you could draw a line down the middle and it would seem like 2 totally different restaurants. The bar is long, white marble and brushed stainless steel cabinets (the kind you see in a doctor's office). Sounds sterile but the lighting and candles are very, very sexy. I don't know why but I always think of the bar in "The Shining" when I am there. Lots of Glen Miller, etc. in the background. Nice and chic.

        The main dining room, however, reminded me of a very upgraded Carrow’s or something. Again, nice lighting but the rest is dark green (?) banquettes, cane chairs, and potted palms. Not as bad as I am making it sound but it is weird. They do have a nice long communal table.

        I had brought the menu home but now I can't find it. Things I remember:

        -crab "cupcakes" (these looked miniscule but the folks eating them enjoyed them)
        -PSC shrimp cocktail
        -"Cannibal Sandwich" raw beef on toast
        -chopped chicken liver
        -gruyere toast with tomato "fondue"
        -some sort of salad

        The entrees changed between visits so I am sort of mashing everything together. All entrees come with your choice of side:

        -I forget the title; something about North Beach meets Chinatown: Chinese roasted duck over pasta

        -Liver and Onions

        -Kobe Beef Sloppy Joe ($15)- I tried this on my second visit and while it was fairly good, my childhood mind thinks sloppy joes should taste like Manwhich (although Martha Stewart's recipe is VERY good). Seemed like kind of a waste of Kobe beef since the change in quality of beef was not particularly noticeable. Just the right bun for sloppy joes: soft but with enough backbone to stay together. Nice cole slaw (non-mayo-y) and very good fries.

        -roasted chicken of some sort

        -veal stew with pearl onions, etc.


        -fish of the day (I want to say there is also a trout but I may be confusing it with La Terrasse)

        -slow roasted ribs with fresh horseradish and some sort of green ($17 ?)-No longer on the menu but they tell me they will bring it back. I quite enjoyed this dish. Side was excellent mashed potatoes. I had to ask for extra horseradish as it came with hardly any but once I added more, very good. The quality of the meat could have been a bit better and I think this is why they removed it from the menu. Bartender said they were looking for a different vendor. This was the dish that sold me on coming back again.

        -Mac and cheese (from a wood oven?)

        I know I am forgetting stuff but it was over 2 weeks ago.

        The 2 desserts I tried were chocolate cupcakes baked to order and beignets. I liked the cupcakes very much: 3 mini cakes with some sort of chocolate crunchy topping (think chocolate Pebbles) and a shot of milk. The centers of the cupcakes were just molten. I would have preferred frosting but how can you do that with just-out-of-the-oven cupcakes?

        Beignets were shaped like logs which kind of threw me. They come with a very light maple syrup for dipping. These were lovely: light, warm, just enough sweetness, syrup not too cloying.

        They also have banana cream pie and something else. I think all the desserts are $6 (could be 7) and the “sides” (sorbet, cookie plate, chocolate pudding, vanilla something or other) are all $4.

        My second visit didn’t impress me quite as much but I foresee eating here quite often.

        Parking is fairly easy though their own lot is small. I am not sure how it will work when they start lunches (don’t believe OpenTable-lunch next month) as the immediate spots are permit only.