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Jan 18, 2008 09:08 AM

Dinner at Spruce

Last night I went to dinner with two friends at Spruce. We made our reservation about a month in advance; the hostess told me they are now booking six weeks out.

We were a bit early for our reservation, so we had a drink at the bar. My two friends had the Pimm's Cup, I had an Aviation, my new favorite cocktail since I first tried an excellent version at Range (but was disappointed at Bourbon & Branch). We agreed that the cocktails were well mixed and balanced. The bar itself was lovely, and less crowded than I expected. There is a limited bar menu with small bites, a burger, charcuterie, an impressive selection of cheese, and french fries.

After a relaxed conversation, we moved to our table and were greeted by our helpful, polished server. We shared:

- charcuterie plate
- ravioli
- sweetbreads with a poached egg
- fries

The charcuterie is excellent; more smooth and luscious than the style at Boccalone. I think the server said they are made in-house by one of the cooks. I especially enjoyed the coppa and pate.

The ravioli was delicious and very rich. I was happy we split this three ways; I would not have been able to eat more than two little pillows.

There are two type of potatoes on the menu: potatoes cooked in duck fat and french fries cooked in rice oil; though I read recommendations on this board for 'duck fat fries' they are not offered. Our server recommended the fries, and we were glad she did: these were some of the best fries I've ever had. Clean, crisp, potatoey and served with a very garlicky aioli.

One friend ordered chicken with turnips as an entree, another the bavette steak. I ordered honey-lacquered duck breast with cinnamon foie gras; the duck was excellent, pleasantly fatty and full of flavor. I didn't try either the chicken (which had a nice, dark crust) or the steak, but both friends said they loved them.

The wine list is more like a wine encyclopedia: at almost 50 pages, it was a bit intimidating, though there is a page of excellent wines under $50. The friendly sommelier, who previously worked at two restaurants in Boston, recommended two wines for our table. I can't remember the names now, but one was a Malbec, the other a Pinot Noir. We asked for New World wines without too much tannin around the $60 mark, and his selections (one of which was off list and much cheaper than the range we specified) were much loved by the table.

There were about 12 cheeses on the menu, which you could order singly, or by region (a plate of American or a plate of European). Instead we asked our server to pick her favorites, and she brought us a plate that spanned the globe. My favorite was a smoky, rich blue cheese, the perfect ending to our meal.

Our total tab was $360, with a generous tip for excellent service.

3640 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94118

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  1. Your review makes me very happy since I have reservations next week. I can't wait!

    1. The original post sums up nicely the experience at Spruce, though I will add the details of my personal experience.

      I went along with five of my friends, in celebration of two birthdays. I believe our reservation was made two months in advance. Upon arriving to the restaurant slightly early, we were escorted away to our table which was already ready for us. My friend described the ambiance as chic, though still with a industrial/warehouse feel to it because of the high ceilings and small dangling light fixtures.

      Our server was very nice and friendly, and she played to our youngness (early/mid-20s). We started off with a nice semi-dry Riesling that she recommended (though i cannot remember the name). For starters we shared:

      - French fries w/the garlic aioli -- joking with the server that we still appreciated bar food
      - Charcuterie platter

      And individual orders of:
      - Sweetbreads
      - Ravioli
      - Roasted Potato Soup

      I personally had the seared bay scallops with caramelized cauliflowers, which i absolutely loved. Shortly after starters, the sommelier helped us select a Pinot Noir (whose name again evades me) after we asked for something Californian, possibly from Santa Barbara County. The wine list is as advertised, it is more a large photo-binder than a list. Each page is carefully arranged, for example on the page of Californian Pinot Noirs that we selected from, the wines were listed geographically down the page (from Northern towards Southern California). We ordered:

      - Sea bass
      - Bavette Steak
      - Pork Tenderloin
      - Duck Breast

      I also had the honey-lacquered duck breast as the first poster, which again i thoroughly enjoyed. The duck breast was excellently prepared, a rather fatty cut, which provided for a nice crust. The duck was accompanied by the foie gras which was tender and delicious, and some lovely caramelized apples and bitter greens. Having a taste of each other's food, we decided that the winner that evening was the pork tenderloin. My friend who ordered it commented on how buttery soft i was...definitely fits a "melt in your mouth" description. I had a bite of the potatoes cooked in duck fat as well, and i honestly did not think it was all it was hyped up to be.

      Our service was excellent, and we enjoyed our outing at Spruce--they even gave us a nice birthday card for our two friends. Our total tab was about $500 + tip.

      1. I asked about the fries, and they said they were poached in duck fat, then fried in rice bran oil.