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Jan 28, 2007 01:32 PM

Scott Howard DAT Review

After doing my research on Friday, i decided that Scott Howard was pretty much the only place I wanted to go for DAT. But they were completely booked through Monday! Boo! My years of concertgoing paid off in honing my "constant refresh" skills, however, and finally at about noon on Friday Open Table offered up an 8:30 reservation.

My dining companion was running late, and a bit pissy, but I called ahead and the restaurant told me they were running behind as well. We arrive (cute neighbourhood!) and are asked to wait in the bar. I had a cucumber martini, which really hit the spot!

We are seated next to a group of screeching howler monkies (ladies, out for a night on the town, who at the end of the night asked the waiter two things-- Is there a cigar bar next door and what is the best nearby stripclub.) We notice at this point that the acoustics are horrible. We can hardly hear ourselves think.

I notice that 50% of the reason I came is no longer on the DAT menu-- the shortribs with orzo mac and cheese! The waiter (who somewhat glaringly spoke to my d├ęcolletage on his first pass-by) comes over. The $15 wine pairing was not on the menu, so I had to (somewhat awkwardly) ask about it. Here's the scoop on the food:

- Bread Basket: A mix of sourdough, whole wheat and mini biscuits. The mini biscuits were great! The rest-- nice and warm, but not outstanding. The butter was also too cold (a pet peeve of mine.)

- Starters: He got the carrot broth. Misnamed, I think. But worth the hullabaloo. Thick, creamy, with a densely truffled cream. Interesting combo. Really liked it. I got the smoked salmon. The pairing was interesting- Smoked Salmon, fingerling potatoes with a mayonnaisey dressing and some grainy honey mustard. The first crostini I had with all the flavours was quite nice. I gave one to my companion and he agreed--- but I got a whole fillet of smoked salmon and only two silver dollar-sized crostini? After a while, this tasted like deli smoked salmon with picnic-pack potato salad.

- Mains: The offers were salmon, scallops, pork and lamb. We both went with the pork. (Again I would like to say BOO for removing the shortrib mid-promotion!) He said his was very tender. Mine was a wee bit overcooked. In all, though, it was tasty- served with some kind of a polenta or bean puree and greens. Now, I'm a greens freak, so I was bummed that they felt the need to say it was served with greens when it was served with, maybe, one leaf. The only complain in the mains was the serving size. My DC can throw it back and he left being not-hungry, but not really full.

- Dessert: I sound mention here that the dessert I wanted- the butterscotch pudding with caramelized bananas- that was mentioned in all the other DAT reviews and on the online DAT menu was not offered. He got the chocolate cake. First, it was the size of a Whole Foods Brownie Bite. It was... hmmmm... weird. He said it didn't have enough chocolate. I tasted a bit of a vegetal quality. Green beans? Beets? Something in the sweet-bitter category. I got the panna cotta with macadamia nut brittle. First, my nuts were not brittled in the least! Second, the extremely wiggly panna cotta was served with plain pomegranate seeds and chiffonade of mint leaf. May I never, EVER, have to taste together again plain pomegranate seeds and raw mint. I love my cocktails bitter, but that was way WAY too much bitter to go with the panna cotta! I was expecting rich-luscious. Instead, I got something totally unballanced and just unappealing. I ate maybe two bites.

The $15 wine pairing was nice, though! The white was a 2004 from New Zealand. My dining companion thought it would be too young. I thought it fabulous, and I am not a "white" person. The red was tasty. The Tawny Port was good as well, but i just can't stomach dessert wines. If I had it to do over again, I'd have just gotten a nice glass of red, but I am glad that I did the pairing because I wouldn't have tried the white otherwise.

Epilogue: As I was telling my companion, I do Dine About Town as more of a sport. I do research, I try to figure out where to go, it's a gamble. In fact, it's a gamble I usually lose. I don't think I've ever walked away from a DAT meal saying, "Yes! What a bargain and what outstanding food!" But, I suppose it'sthe thrill of the fight that keeps me coming back. I won't ever feel the need to go to Scott Howard again, but does that mean you shouldn't continue to try? Check back with me next year...

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  1. We went to Scott Howard last night and had a similar experience, with three notable differences: (1) I asked nicely if I could have the butterscotch pudding instead, and without any hestiation, our waitress said of course, and brought the dessert menu over so we could have our pick. Should have read the reviews first cause Mr. norjah ordered the chocolate cake and really didn't like it. (2) Lots of mustard greens with my pork. Good greens. (3) Waitress volunteered the wine pairing with the DAT menu.

    1. My report is below,

      but my experience was much better. Everyone at our table loved the panna cotta, and I particularly liked the pomegranite. To my taste, not bitter at all! (but then, I would never order anything with banana, so I wasn't the least bit disappointed that the butterscotch pudding wasn't listed on the menu) and I thought the chocolate cake was good. Didn't taste any off flavors in the chocolate...

      as with norjah, our server volunteered the wine pairing before we had a chance to pick out a bottle. .

      I do agree that it is noisy, however.

      1. Thank you both for weighing in... Susan, I think they may have had a different pastry chef that night... mine didn't have any maple sugar. It was just the jelly panna cotta, the nude macadamias, and the bitter pom and mint.

        Noijah- I wonder if much of it is service. My red wine flight, for example, didn't show up until I had nearly finished my pork shoulder. The fact that they didn't offer the wine flight made me feel weird asking about it, and I did say to the waiter "Oh, I was really looking forward to the beef rib!" And he said, "it's on the regular menu," I hope this doesn't come off wrong, but from the gentleman walking by with a water pitcher oggling my chest and then coming back and offering little in the way of input or advice on the menu, I got the feeling he really was the waterboy being given a table because the waitstaff was in the weeds. They were seating very strangely as well, we noticed, because we were counting two-tops waiting for our table.

        1. I was a dining companion of SusanC's and check her link above for our comments on our DAT meal there Friday. To add to that and to Chowsmurf's comments....I had the pork and loved it and do not see how pork shoulder which is best cooked slowly for a looooonnnnngg time could be overcooked. And it was on a lovely pool of pureed celery root, one of the taste highlights of the meal. Susan chided me for not mentioning the wine pairings, which I had meant to do but neglected--and which our server suggested to us, there being no menu mention of them: so here: for a mere $15 we got a full, not tasting pour, of Morton Estate sauvignon blanc, (New Zealand, Marlborough '05); Robert Sinskey Aires pinot noir (Carneros, '01) and either a port or a moscato (provenance of which not noted). What a deal. I described our Scott Howard DAT to my son, an SF restaurant professional for lo these many years, incuding the bar specials, and he was amazed that such bargains were being offered and that the food was good! as well. Finally, let me say that no one ogled my chest and I take that as a sign of good taste on tha part of servers of any persuasion. BTW, Chowsmurf, what is with the 'u' in neighborhood?

          1. When we had the DAT menu and the wine pairing, we were given small taste portions of a white and a red, and no dessert pairing.

            8 Replies
            1. re: oaktowngirl

              oh...that wouldn't have been nearly as good a deal. They told us up front that it was three glasses, one for each course. as Al says, full pours; in fact generous full pours, with the glasses perhaps 3/4 full. I checked the wines prices on the by the glass menu online, this was a savings of about $10 p/p or more, depending on which dessert wines they were (since we weren't told which ones they were).

              I'd say if anyone is going for the next three nights, verify what you are getting if ordering the wine pairing.

              Or go early and enjoy that happy hour!

              1. re: susancinsf

                I do agree that the pours were generous! Perhaps "overcooked" was the wrong word. Just a bit tough. And agree that the celery root puree was wonderful.

                And neighbourhood has a "u" in it- at least half the time on at least half the globe.


                1. re: Chowsmurf

                  Sorry, no negativity meant at all in the 'u' question. Merely wondering which of the 'u' portion of the globe might have prompted your use of it. Please forgive any unintended insult.

                  1. re: alfairfax

                    No worries, I am a constant u-user so I suppose I get a bit defensive. Colour, flavour... I love me some u's. :)

                2. re: susancinsf

                  Can you be more specific about the Happy Hour offerings and times?

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      Thanks - so the only food aspect to the happy hour deals is the $1 oysters? (not that it's not enough, just wondering if they also had "bar bites" a la Hawthorne Lane or anything as well).

                      1. re: Maya

                        no, alas, don't think so.....but given the small size of the bar, that might be a blessing in disguise... :-)