Conduit on Valencia, SF: Anyone been?
I went last night, and the place was packed. At 8-ish, my party of 3 had to wait for a bit, then we accepted counter seats by the kitchen. The restaurant is big, stylish and loud, a great place for a little celebration.
I didn't find the portions to be "teeny tiny"; we shared two entrees, one pasta, and one appetizer between 3 people. The appetizer was a wonderful chicory salad with a light dressing and, on the side, a little scoop of ricotta on top of a smear of squash, which, together, tasted like pumpkin pie. The pasta entree was spaghetti with a type of truffle I'd never seen before: it was large (about 2" diameter), purplish black, and a bit elastic. Tasted great, but I've gotten used to al dente pasta and this was a bit too cooked for me.
For entrees, we had two types of fish: ono and...I can't remember the other one, except that we called it "McFish" because the sweet sauce (tomato and tamarind?) and crisp crust reminded us of Chicken McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce. The ono was great; McFish was the only dish of the evening that was not licked off of its plate.
Best of all were the stunning desserts. These were probably the best desserts I've had at a restaurant in recent memory. It was my friend's birthday, so we shared a grapefruit granite, meyer lemon pudding with pomegranate seeds, pear tart and s'more cake. We had a hard time deciding which was best: the s'more cake looked the most impressive, but the pear tart had an amazing hazelnut crust, the lemon pudding was tartly delicious, and the icy, sour grapefruit was stunning.
Also of note: the service was really polished for a new restaurant. Our server, who had been the manager at Salt House, was really lovely and efficient, and gave us a wonderful wine recommendation. I liked Bar Bambino (in the same neighborhood, with a similar price point) but they had that bumpy new restaurant feel well into the six or seventh month they were open.
Oh: and I wish they would replace the plates. They have pretty plates that tilt up at the sides and require a bit of balance. Our silverware kept falling and one plate almost went over the side of our table.
I went the first night of their soft open and the food was amazing! Definitely sit at the cooks bar/table at the back if you are solo or with one other person. Great interaction with staff and very classy kitchen. I sat with a friend and had about 75% of things on the menu. Everything was quite good, but the spare ribs blew me away. Must try.
Place is a huge space, so I hope they are able to keep it filled. The head chef was formerly part of A16, so you know you are getting top notch creativity.