Mandaloun in Redwood City
- lilitake Jan 26, 2007 05:01 PM
Has anyone been to Mandaloun in Redwood City lately? Reports back in November (2006) for the brand new restaurant were generally favorable so I'm willing to try it out. But do people have specific recommendations given their various plates (small, medium, hearth, pasta, main) and regions (Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Spain, N. Africa) represented on the menu?
to answer my own question, the chronicle just published a favorable review of mandaloun today: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...
that evening we instead ended up going to tarboosh (located right around the corner from mandaloun), and were disappointed by the flaky service and mediocre food, which came across as more generically middle-eastern than lebanese.
looking forward to giving mandaloun a shot.
Personally I think Tarboosh has been mediocre with flaky service since it opened, yet people still flock there and ignore the true gem (IMHO) New Kappadokia. Although their service can be inconsistent the food makes up for it in spades.
Had a superb dinner in this cavernous, dark, romantic new space. Showed up early, and an amuse landed on the table right on the heels of the menu (prosciutto wrapped around rosemary-stewed apple). Trio of small plates (mixed fry with smelt, potatoes, and calamari; chicken phyllo cigars (cannelloni-like filling); mushrooms broiled with scamorza) were all pleasing. Entrées of mushroom-guanciale risotto and rare steak on smoky braised chicory were executed perfectly, exploding with flavor. The knowledgeable service was invisibly attentive throughout. Would recommend to anyone looking for a fine meal in or around Redwood City.
Just had dinner there last Friday night. The food and service were awesome. We ordered three appetizers and an entree and had a great two hour meal. My new fave on the peninsula. Also had an even better meal at Trevese in Los Gatos the night before. The place was inexpilacbly empty, so we had our own server all night. We ordered a couple of appetizers and shared a tasting menu; three hours of pure delight.
Likewise: I'm part of a group of ladies who do a "girls night out" dinner once a month or so. The first time we tried Mandaloun it was terrific. Went back twice and each time we felt that it had slipped. The last time we went, a couple of months ago, they had stopped the "3 small plates for $18" - a feature of the menu we really liked. At the last 2 dinners I ordered a glass of bubbly and each time it was flat - a comment to the server yielded a fresh glass. Food isn't bad but seems pricey for Redwood City. One thing we all really liked: the churros and chocolate dessert... The group decided that we'd give it a rest for now...
Thanks for reinforcing my impression that they have stopped caring and are sitting on their laurels as one of the only upscale restaurants in RWC. I was a weekly diner there, loved the food early on, and had a great rapport with the staff. But even that welcoming vibe wasn't enough. In my last two visits there, both times bringing guests who had never been before, we had to send back half of our meals because they were inedible. And no one seemed particularly apologetic or concerned. That was the biggest disappointment.
I think it's a case of too much success - the place seems to be very popular as it's been pretty full each time we've been there. You are right; there is a definite feeling of "we don't much care...." And it bums me out because as I stated in my previous post (see link below) I really want to love it... it's a cool feeling place and some of the items are tasty...
Finally made it out to Mandaloun and was somewhat underwhelmed. We arrived at 8:30 or so on a Sunday, definitely on the late side for downtown RWC, but there were still quite a few people eating. Our table in the "outer" section was nice, and had a view of the street-side windows.
We ordered small plates only, and they seemed pretty much hit-or-miss, mostly miss, but with a few goodies. Service was no better than OK; our actual waiter was fine, but the runners who brought out food seemed unable to answer any questions about the dishes or explain what was coming when or why.
What we ate:
* The beet salad. It was a few tiny slices of beets with some frisée greens in the middle. Completely uninteresting and we tried to finish it to get the overly huge serving plate out of the way but there were not enough takers.
* Cheese and polenta cakes with pesto aioli. They were OK, but nothing special, the sort of thing that might be OK as TV snacks during a football game, but not expensive restaurant food.
* Grilled shrimp with charmoula sauce. Tasty though overcooked; the charmoula sauce was great, though.
* Cream cheese-stuffed dates wrapped with pancetta. These tasted like grilled dates, which is to say the cream cheese and pancetta flavors disappeared somewhere along the line.
* Piquillo pepper stuffed with cheese and chorizo and fried. Probably the best of the set - they were light and fluffy and had a lot of flavor. (The chorizo was limited to tiny flecks in the cheese, though.)
* Scallop crudo with blood orange. This was very successful as well. A large plate of raw scallops, sliced thinly, with drizzled with some sort of black sauce (squid ink?) and with blood orange sections.
* Steak tartare with enoki mushrooms. The tartare was not bad; it could have used more seasoning, but the mushroooms seemd a bit off somehow.
* Smoked cured pork loin with hot mustard and greens. Nicely smoked and sliced in razor-thin portions.
* French fries. Ordinary fries with a couple of dipping sauces.
Then the difficulty began -- we wanted to order dessert, but the waiter was not to be found. He showed up eventually, and we ordered cappuccinos and dishes of gelato. After the expected amount of time, the coffees arrived. And then... nothing. Many minutes pass. How long does it take to dish up gelato? The waiter is again M.I.A. And then, while we're sitting there tapping our fingers, cappuccinos long finished, they start closing the place up, sweeping the floor, and putting the bar stools upside down on the tables. WTF!?!
The waiter still was not to be seen, so I went to the back of the house, and he said the gelati were "coming right up". I mentioned the delay to the manager, who seemed uninterested, as well as why they were closing up before we'd even had dessert.
The delay with the gelato was explained as due to there not being any of the waffle cookies that it is served in, so they cooked more, and apparently screwed it up, too, since when the gelati arrived, one of the waffle cookies was burnt. At that point we tasted them (the balsamic caramel gelato was excellent; the pumpkin hazelnut was awful), and called for the bill. The desserts had been comped (OK, whatever).
I wouldn't say that I'll never set foot in the place, but I'm in no great hurry to go back. I guess the Mediterranean small-plates concept is relatively new on the Peninsula, but the places doing in SF are doing a better job of it.
Flickr photo set here: