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Frascati report

Last night I went to Frascati in Russian Hill with a friend who lists it among her favorite restaurants. Though the company was exceptional and we had a good time, the food was fairly mediocre.

The two-level dining area is very pretty, with warm lighting from multiple chandeliers. I was with a female pal from work, so the flattering light didn't lead to a romantic interlude, but it was welcome nonetheless.

On my friend's recommendation we split the bread salad, which was very good, with lots of crunchy lettuce ribs nicely interspersed with grilled bread. It was a bit too vinegary and could have used a tad more olive oil--luckily the olive oil bottle from the bread plate was still on our table, so I self-administered another dose.

My friend's lamb chops were very tasty, cooked a perfect medium rare. If I had to return, I would order the lamb. Unfortunately, I went with the pork chop. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the excellent pork dishes at Canteen (chupacabra, my love!) and Incanto, but this fell far short of the mark. It was tough and tasteless, dressed with tiny cubes of green apple that did little to inform or enhance the flavor. I brought 3/4 of it home and wished I had a dog to eat my leftovers.

Finally, we split the chocolate bread pudding, which was a huge portion (like the bread salad), perfect for splitting. It was served warm and topped with ice cream. It was good, but not astounding.

Our server was very friendly, but didn't seem entirely comfortable with the wine list. I asked for help pairing my pork chop with a glass and she seemed a bit flustered. Eventually I settled on a zinfandel which was good but, following with the theme of the evening, not astounding.

Overall, dinner was OK--a B minus in my book. Though the lamb chop, bread salad and bread pudding were solid enough, nothing seemed fresh or exciting. It was a comfortable neighborhood bistro, but at $50 per person, there are lots of places I'd rather eat.

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  1. Interesting, they usually do pork chops very well, at least the few times I have had the pork chop there. The staff is usually very familiar with the wine list as well and offers a taste first. I wonder if you were being served by a new employee.

    That bread pudding is fantastic in my opinion, but I like simple desserts.

    Oh, and what was the Zin if you remember. Did your server suggest that? I would not vote for a Zin with a pork chop, especially with the green apple prep.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MikeW

      It was the only Zin on their wines-by-the-glass list, but I can't remember the name. I had read recommendations for the pork chop by a few different people, so maybe it was just an off night?

      1. re: MikeW

        I was there last Thursday and the by-the-glass Zin was by Joel Gott.

        As far as the food in general, I know they had a recent chef change (chef went to the ex-owner's new place in Oakland). I eat at Frascati regularly (it's up the block from me) and the pork chop has always been excellent. But the duck I ordered last week was surprisingly underseasoned - maybe a similar situation with OP's pork?

      2. I couldn't agree with you more. There are many better options in the neighborhood.

        1. rich, which ones do you prefer

          1 Reply
          1. re: kewlio

            On the corner opposite Frascati is Luella. It's outstanding, have eaten there a number of times and have never been disappointed. Be sure to have the ricotta fritters with honey for dessert.

          2. I was there several weeks ago and thought that the highlights were the halibut and the gnocchi. We ordered two salads to start with and I am getting really annoyed with paying $8 for like 15 leaves of cutesy lettuce. The salad was adorned with like 2 slices of peach or nectarine and about 4 walnuts.

            However, my gnocchi dish was fantastic. The waiter said they could double the appetizer portion to create an entree size. It had fresh fava beans and was worth every calorie. My friend had the halibut, which was also very good. I believe it had a crust made of a pistachio or another nut.

            The waiter noted that their bread pudding is famous, so we ordered it. It was a big glob of chocolate bread pudding that was not very good. I would have been happy with the hazelnut ice cream they served it with.

            Overall, I don't think this is a destination place for me (maybe I'd go back for more gnocchi).

            1. Link:

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              Frascati Restaurant
              1901 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

              4 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I'd love to hear more reports in light of the new chef change, because Frascati is absolutely one of my favorite restaurants. We've been to Luella about five times and each time I think it's pretty mediocre, with a few exceptions, whereas I think Frascati is exceptional, with something occasionally mediocre thrown in.

                One of the best meals of my life was here last year, a gorgeous filet done on top of a mushroom risotto. Yummm...

                In terms of other good places in the neighborhood, of course, there's Antica Trattoria, Tablespoon, and Yabbie's for seafood.

                1. re: ashleys

                  I plan to have dinner here on Wednesday. I shall report back. Cheers !

                  1. re: ashleys

                    Ashley,
                    I am still extremely impressed by Frascati, even with the chef change. Frascati has always been one of my favorite restaurants as well, and my last two visits did not disappoint. Definitely get the gnocchi!!!