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Oct 22, 2007 10:49 PM

Americano: a big disappointment

We've all been to the Americano restaurant bar at Hotel Vitale for drinks after work. Great outdoor spot for a cocktail on those perfect autumn San Francisco evenings. Given the success of the bar I've always thought that the food must be excellent, too.

Boy was I wrong. Americano was a massive disappointment, missing on all counts: ambience, service, and food. Although I will say the wine was a positive.

The plan was to take my girlfriend and her mom (visiting from out of town) somewhere nice and conveniently located. Out first clue that it might be an odd night should have been the TV crew following ex-mayor Willie Brown and his arm candy in the lobby.... turns out the patio was site of a Veuve Cliquot event raising money to combat breast cancer. I'm all for supporting a good cause, but the auctioneer soliciting bids drowned out the first 45 minutes of our dinner -- quite annoying that man and his microphone.

But moving on -- after appetizers and a glass of wine, out come the entrees... roasted chicken stuffed with couscous, pork duo of roasted loin and seared belly with brussels sprouts, and pasta parpadelle with prosciutto and cauliflower.

The pork duo was mediocre at best. The pasta was over salted.

And the chicken was raw. Literally. Not pink. Not a touch undercooked. Raw. We immediately sent it back to the kitchen. Our server stammered apologies and assured us the manager would be over to chat -- no one ever arrived.

15 minutes later a fully cooked stuffed chicken arrived. Again, mediocre is the most diplomatic I can be with this dish. Or with any of them. Not one of us finished our meal.

To top it all off the fellow clearing the dishes spilled the salt and pepper all over my lap. And to add insult to injury, upon receiving the check (after asking for it twice) it had been run for the table of eight next to us -- a several hundred dollar difference. So we waited again for the correct bill to be brought out.

Given the sleek image of the Hotel Vitale I expected much, much better. And was thoroughly disappointed. I do a lot of corporate events, entertaining, etc and I will certainly not be considering Americano any time soon. The problems are serious and deep. And I'd advise anyone looking for either a night out or good corporate events location to go elsewhere.

San Francisco is one of the world's great restaurant cities. And in this hyper-competitive market and industry it's not hard to find something much, much better.

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  1. Thanks for taking the bullet and reporting back. I've always wondered about the restaurant. I guess the restaurant is there mainly for the convenience of those staying at the hotel and they are trying not to be a name restaurant.

    8 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

    1. While I can't remember exactly what I ate, nor the others at my table, I dined at Americano' s restaurant about 1 year ago and echo your sentiments exactly. The food was underwhelming. I love going there on a nice evening for drinks and some appetizers (which I recommend), but I wouldn't eat at the restaurant again. Luckily we were dining on an expense account!

      1. I ate there shortly after they opened and was underwhelmed to the point of wondering why I seemed to be the only person who didn't rave about this place! I also had something (either chicken or fish) that was massively undercooked, mentioned it and got a "hmm" response from the server. And nothing else.

        But there are lots of restaurants that are popular for reasons other than the food. (In fact, I'm starting to cynically believe that MOST of the popular restaurants are so for other reasons. I've had mediocre meals at Salt House, Townhall, and other trendy joints, and an ok meal at Perbacco.)


        1. It's a very frustrating experience to spend time and money on bad food. Sometimes I feel like it's a case of 'the emperor has no clothes.' Too often, IMO, restaurants get by on reputation alone. Sounds like they had a hard time handling both the fund raiser and their other customers.