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Mar 27, 2006 06:24 PM

Belden Taverna

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Does anyone have any comments on this restaurant in Belden Alley?

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  1. Recent reviews (below) have not been good. At $20 for a bastilla, I'd go to Tajine and have the same for under $7 (photo). Or course, I haven't been to BT so I shouldn't say that. Also, the ambiance at BT is surely far more formal than that of Tajine, a Tenderloin dive.



    2 Replies
    1. re: nooodles

      One of my business partners and I went to Belden Taverna for lunch a few months ago, and I was sorely disappointed. To be fair, BT had a tough act to follow, since its predecessor, Cafe 52, was my favorite downtown lunch place. Still, I thought our lunch was OK at best, and way too expensive.

      At my suggestion, my partner ordered the Bastilla ($20+) since he'd never had it before. The pastry managed to be both soggy and leaden, and the filling was too dense and too dry. I thought it was just awful. My main course was the appetizer riso with rabbit, shrimp and mussels (around $15). The mussels were very good, but the rabbit and shrimp were dry and pretty tasteless. My partner started with a very good squash soup, and I had a perfectly competent beet salad (though at $10, I though it was too pricey for what I got). To make matters worse, we had a totally inept waiter, although the manager (owner?) was trying hard to take up the slack.

      The space itself is lovely; they've done a great job of remodeling. I'll probably give it another go in a month or two in the hope they were just having an off day -- although at these prices (around $75 before tax and tip, with one soup, one salad, one app, one main, and two glasses of wine), I'll probably stick to dinner.

      1. re: mspea

        I miss Cafe 52! The people were so nice there, the food was good, and it was inexpensive (comparatively...) It was one of my favorite downtown spots, and I was really sorry to see it go.

    2. Has anyone tried BT recently? I've been there twice and had good meals, reasonably priced, both times, but haven't been for a few months. I'm looking for a place for 12 next week and want to consider it (well, I want it to work, really).

      1. I wasn't too thrilled with my dining experience at Belden Taverna. Like most of the restaurants on Belden Alley, I felt cramped at the two top table. The found their bastilla to be a bit mushy and not quite what I was hoping for. Of course, this is in comparison to the DELICIOUS basteeya and overall meals I've had at Aziza. In my opinion, I would avoid Belden Taverna and make a trek to Aziza, it will be worth it!

        1. I visited Belden Taverna last week when the weather was especially nice (and looks like it'll be nice again for awhile). So I wanted to eat outdoors, which is nice in Belden Place. I never tried Belden Taverna and found it a very pleasant experience. I noticed the reviews and comments from last year seem especially harsh and I'm wondering if they've improved. They do have a different chef than when they first opened so maybe this chef is doing something right.

          I went with my nephew and we started with a grilled pear salad with prosciutto and the mushroom risotto appetizer. The salad was nice and filling and the risotto was especially good. It was nice and warm like it came straight from the kitchen and had a very nice taste with interesting crispy garnish on top.

          For our entrees, I had the crab fettucinne, which was very light with just olive oil and cherry tomatoes. But lots of crab. I thought it was just OK. My nephew had the spicy sausage penne and I tasted a bit and wanted more. The pasta was done just right and the sauce felt very comforting.

          Dessert was just OK. We had the special banana bread pudding and I thought it was a bit dry and too much chocolate sauce on top.

          Still, overall I liked this place. There was something about the taste of the food that made me feel it was interesting and exciting and not average. The service was very nice, our waittress was very helpful, especially with my wine selection. And again, it was such a nice day to be eating outside. I'm surprised not more people are trying this place, actually.

          OK, I'm going to attempt to attach some photos. But if I can't, you can see them here:

          1. Just wanted to echo Singleguychef's comments. Our recent experience at the Belden Taverna wasn't fantastic, but was good enough that we'd recommend it.

            We began with the Dungeness Crab Trio ($14): an appetizer of three crab cakes, each in a different sauce. The crab cakes themselves were perfection...light, crumbly to the touch, and perfectly cooked. As for the sauces, the only one that seemed a ideal accompaniment to the crab cakes was the spicy tomato sauce. The corn bisque sauce and the saffron sauce did nothing to highlight the flavor of the cakes (an especially surprising conclusion for the saffron sauce). Next time, we'll ask for only the spicy tomato sauce.

            One of our party was not particularly hungry, so they ordered the Monterey Calamari Three Ways appetizer as their entree ($13). This dish contains fried, sautéed, and grilled calamari served with cocktail sauce and tarter sauce. As was the case with the crab cakes, the fried calamari was lightly breaded and tender: in other words, it was perfect (the cooks obviously know how to fry). The grilled calamari was also very tender and tasty. But, the sauteed calamari seemed to lack the taste that the other two versions had. As was the case with the crab cakes, we'll ask for the fried (and maybe the grilled) calamari next time.

            We also had the grilled chicken penne ($17). The chicken was nicely done, and the pasta was also very tender. But, there was a tad too much blue cheese in dish, which overpowered the taste of the tomato sauce. We love blue cheese; so if we thought there was too much, we think that someone who is less than enthralled with blue cheese will find this dish inedible.

            As for the service, we have mostly positive comments. While our waiter did have to return a second time to take our order (he didn't write it down, and then forgot it on his way to the kitchen), he was very helpful with suggestions as to what to order. Best of all, the staff had no problem accomodating the two-year-old in our party. In fact, they even let us roll the stroller into the dining room and park it (with the two-year-old inside) next to our table throughout the meal.

            Overall, the Belden Taverna wasn't fantastic. But, there were enough highlights that we're more than willing to try it again.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lunch Critics

              Thanks for the update.

              Belden Taverna
              52 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104