Before dashing off to Los Angeles last weekend, I wandered into Scott Howard for dinner on Friday evening. I opted for the three course prix fixe for $31.98. I liked the fact that they have a very good by-the-glass wine last and that all glasses could be either three or six ounces.
For my first course, I chose the Japanese Hamachi with pink grapefruit, pickled cucumber, truffled ponzu, and herbs. This was really well done although I could not detect any truffle in the ponzu. The fish was fresh and the perfect temperature. I chose a Loosen Riesling that worked very well with the dish.
For my second course, I had the Pan Roasted Veal Sweetbreads with yukon potato purée, smoked bacon, and madeira jus. With this I picked an a Domaine Allimant-Laugnier Alsacian Pinot. The dish was not bad, but I like my sweetbreads to be on the crispy side while these were very mushy.
I was torn between the venison and the poussin and at the waitress' recommendation, I opted for the Crispy Poussin with truffled orzo "mac & cheese," watercress, and natural jus. Also with the waitress's suggestion, I ordered Baumard Anjou Loire Valley Cab Franc. I was also not very impressed with this dish either. It was probably my mistake but both the sweetbreads and the poultry were served on a puddle of purée/mush. I had too much soft food and not enough tantalizing flavors.
Not stuffed to the gills, I ordered the sample three-cheese plate (sorry, don't remember which cheeses were served). There was a wine on the dessert wine list I was unfamiliar with and asked about the Picolit, La Roncala, Colli Orientele, Italy. My server was really great in that since I was unfamiliar with the wine, brought over the bottle for me to taste. At a little more than half empty, it was definitely corked (which means they had already served it as such). The waitress was really great in whisking the bottle away and suggested instead a Heidi Schrock Beerenauslese. This wine worked well with the cheeses and was a nice ending to an otherwise unremarkable meal. About $100 for all.
Totally not worth the money!
I usually enjoy small plates. But small plates in this case is an overstatement. Some dishes are literally two-bite portions... :(
And frankly nobody in my party had been impressed with the food. Good but not great.
Maybe because of the size of the portions we couldn't really taste the food!
I know Scott Howard has had mixed reviews on the CH SF board, but after reading Tablehopper’s (www.tablehopper.com) review of Scott Howard, I decided to cash in on the prix fixe deal the restaurant is offering through December. The $31 deal, offered Monday - Saturday 5:30 to 6:30, allows you an appetizer (one from a choice of four), an entrée (one from a choice of four), and a dessert (one from a choice of four). No forced meal here, the choices offered were all items from the a la carte menu. Plus each dish seemed to be the regular plate size given to those who ordered a la carte. What I’m getting at here is that the Scott Howard deal is a real deal.
The dishes were meticulously executed and all ingredients of the absolute best quality. We were a party of three and decided to share everything. The bread basket included 4 different kinds of warm bread, the highlight of which was a cheesy biscuit that was to die for.
For appetizers we chose the baby lettuces salad, the infamous carrot soup with truffle oil, and smoked salmon with potato salad and crisp green apples. The carrot soup is to die for. It is more carrot than carrot. The recipe is printed inside the envelope with you bill,. It is made by cooking carrots in carrot juice until the juice is totally reduced. Then add more carrot juice and cream. Wow.
For entrees we had the pork shoulder cooked in cider with puree of potatoes and creamed corn, halibut with beans and bacon, and 4 large scallops with mitsuke mushrooms and potato puree with saffron oil. The scallops and pork were the standouts. Perfectly cooked and interestingly flavored.
Drinkwise and servicewise things were a little bumpy. I did have an incredible cucumber martini named after the bartender that made it (Fash’s something something). It was really clean tasting. But one of us ordered a gin and tonic and got a gin and soda. Then the bottle of white wine we ordered hadn’t been chilled. Instead of suggesting a different bottle, our waiter asked if he should chill it. Of course he should chill it. But by the time it was chilled, we had already finished our appetizers. The manager or perhaps he was the sommelier was aware of the problem from the start because he asked if everything was alright and we told him to add water and salt to the wine chilling bucket. Really I should have figured out the wine wouldn’t get cold fast enough and asked for a different bottle. But hindsight is 20/20. The waiter was very sweet and eager to please but seemed inexperienced. It obviously never occurred to him to suggest a different bottle of wine or, once he realized that we were half-way through dinner without the wine we ordered, to comp a glass of wine to drink until the one we ordered was chilled. But we were happy to be eating such a lovely meal at such a great price and bore with it.
I agree with sarvey. Loved the meal we had there. We ordered the Duck Confit and Tempura Shrimp appetizers, Venison and Shortribs for entrees, and the FABULOUS Orzo Mac & Cheese. The Duck Confit was the weakest dish, and I wouldn't order it again. But all the others were very memorable.
I went to SH for my birthday and wish I didn't. The food was just OK. Totally forgettable. I couldn't tell you what I ate.... Let me think about it... Yeah... still can't remember.
I did take my aunt to Winterland for her birthday last month and the food was fantastic. She took me to SH for my bday and it was decided by all that Winterland was the better restaurant.
Really enjoyed the pork belly...