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SF - Rubicon Birthday Lunch

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I looked this place up and it seems there was no current info on this Board, so I thought I'd do my first detailed report and get the word out. This place is still great. No small feat in San Francisco.

My birthday (M) is 8 days before my wife's (C) we call this period M&C Fest ! Each year during M&C Fest we go to a long lunch with her Auntie (a classic old SF broad (her words)), whose birthday is early October but she always goes away for it, so hence the lunch in September. I booked this year's lunch for yesterday on Open Table. Didn't realize they only do lunch on Wednesday and we were lucky that was the day we were all available. That explains why the place was packed and rockin' !!

Food. We had a dozen fabulous little oysters the waitress called Kushi's with champagne mignonette. Wow. Then Auntie had the heirloom tomato salad which came with a nice spicy pepper aioli, weird but good purple basil, cucumber & cracked coriander vinaigrette. We all agreed that the cucumber, while nice, definitely took away from the beautiful fresh tomato flavor. I had the smoked brandywine tomato soup which was served chilled. It had pickled fennel, Japanese eggplant, and goat cheese (Yerba Santa?, the menu said). Wow it was divine once seasoned with salt and pepper. Actually, we all thought both tomato dishes needed salt and pepper which were not on the table (a pet peeve of mine) and it took the waitress something short of dental extraction to get it from the kitchen. But it was beautiful sea salt and a peppermill when finally provided. We drank a bottle of domestic Roederer champagne with the apps.

For entrees, my wife had roasted Alaskan coho salmon, which came with wax and shelling beans, champagne grapes (the waitress told us later), and prosciutto. It was terrific, my wife thought the grapes made the dish. None of us had ever seen that before. Wow. Auntie had seared wild Japanese scallops, which came with Swiss chard, padron peppers (non-spicy Jalapeno like), and a yellow tomato broth. We all liked it very much and wifey and I are not big scallop fans. I had the beef short rib ravioli which came with shaved parmesan and chanterelle mushrooms, in a caramelized onion broth. The unanimous favorite of the day. It was a super cold and blustery (downright windy) day downtown yesterday and this was heart-warming comfort food with deep rich hearty savory flavor. We had a bottle of B.R. Cohn Cab from their 50 under 50 wine list. You can really blow your jets out on an expense account at this joint. It was great to see the 50 under 50 list offered as an option for folks not on the corporate dime.

For dessert, my wife the panna cotta nut and Auntie both had the saffron buttermilk panna cotta which came with honey-vanilla caramel, and a little blackberry sorbet on the side. They were in heaven. Once again, I got the unanimous winner of the day: aged Sardinian pecorino and a plum financier (like a cake or crust-less pie ) sprinkled with some walnuts, and a dollop of Arbequina olive oil ice cream with sea salt. I've read about olive oil ice cream with sea salt and now I am hooked. It was a unique combination of flavors and textures that taught us all something new. How often does a dessert do that? Wow.

The whole shebang was $105 per person with tip, thanks to going easy on the wine list. It was very special food for a very special occasion. Nothing missed really.

Service. The service was out of this world. Our waitress was Sarah and she was very fun and professional. She's a serious chowhound and appreciated us being chowhounds too and so she explained everything. She had such a ball with us that she joined us for a cocktail after work at Gio's, the bar around the corner on Commercial. One of the reasons I took it easy on wines is that this event never stops at lunch. We hit Gio's for classic old school San Francisco cocktailing (Gio is Auntie's old pal), then London Wine Bar to say hi to our old friend the bartender and then hit the neighborhood watering hole in Noe after that.

Woke up at home today. All was well.

Nest time you're going to be downtown on a Wednesday .........

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  1. Great write-up, thanks. And happy M&C Fest!

    1. Happy birthdays to you all!!!

      Nice report. Yerba Santa sells at Ferry Plaza on Saturday and I like their cheese quite a lot, but absolutely love their Natilla, a carmel sauce made from goat cheese. I understand that the cheese can also be bought at Whole Food, but I haven't looked yet.

      One of my first rants on Chowhound was about not having salt on the table. My complaint was that it would be better to have salt on the table rather that over-salt as so many restaurants do. I know this is controversial, but IMO you can add salt ... can't take it out. Anyway that kind of discussion belongs on general topics, but nice to know that the salt they brought out was lovely.

      I'm surprised they limited lunch to Wednesday only. It would seem they would do good business in the Financial District. They still have the three course business lunch for $25 though.

      Thanks again for the update.

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      Rubicon Restaurant
      558 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA