Sub-par meal at Sauce
In the long thread about Dine About Town, VirgoBlue describes the food at Sauce as sub-par. I think that statement really sums it up, especially for a meal in that price range.
I went last night (Sunday) with two others, planning to try the DAT menu. However, upon looking at various options, we decided it would be just as economical to order from the main menu, sharing appetizers and desserts.
The first thing I noticed about the restaurant was that it was loud! There was some techno-ish music playing quietly in the background, but people were talking loudly and something about the acoustics made it very difficult to hear my DCs. Other than that I thought the room was comfortable, although my dining companions were less thrilled with the decor.
Bread basket arrived first - parmesan focaccia or something like that - pretty dry, not much flavor. My DC asked for some butter - waitress replied "really? you know they are soaked in olive oil..." - but after some persuasion brought some butter (unsalted and not too good either).
We started off with the tater tots (Smoked Ham Hock & Tillamook Cheddar) and the crab wontons with orange/mango reduction. Both were unimpressive. The tater tots were not hot, as if they had been fried earlier and re-heated. The flavor was okay though, in a greasy pub food kind of way. The crab wontons were very disappointing, especially at 14 dollars. I guess they used real crab meat, but these were pretty measly and flavorless - I much prefer the crab rangoons from Mandarin Villa, just two blocks away and 1/3 the price.
I was somewhat tempted by the mac and cheese until I saw a plate of it on the next table, and it looked very soupy, so I veared away and ordered the pork tenderloin. It was described as: Nutmeg Dusted Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Risotto, Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Apple Demi. The pork itself was cooked well, and was dusted in 5-Spice (not just nutmeg). Nothing too exciting, but not bad. The risotto was pretty tasty, one of the better things on the table, but the brussel sprouts were undercooked and not particularly seasoned. I expect better vegetable sides at a restaurant of this (supposed) caliber.
One DC ordered the meatloaf: "Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Individually Roasted, Seasoned Ground Beef Wrapped in Apple Wood Smoked Bacon with Truffle Whipped Potato, French Green Beans & Mushrooms.
The meatloaf was interesting, had a familiar flavor I couldn't quite identify, but was very firm and almost burgerlike. The potatoes were pretty tasty, but the mushrooms and string beans were a joke. Ditto my vegetable comment above, and add four exclamation marks.
Third DC had skirt steak, which also tasted somewhat like Chinese 5-Spice. Served with some oddly chopped fresh spinach with crispy something (onions? tasted like the little bits of batter that are at the bottom of your box of fried clams). Also some cheesy broccoli. Definitely not worth 24 dollars.
We decided to skip dessert.
Total bill for this meal was 107 dollars for the 3 of us, before tip. This included two bottles of water (at 6 dollars each). If we had had wine, we would have been over 50 per person w/ tip, which in San Francisco can get you significantly better meals. It is not often that I go out to meals that cost me more than 25 dollars (let alone 35 or 40) and it's a bummer when the food is so mediocre. Zin in Healdsburg and NOPA in SF both have similar style of food, but both were much better and similarly priced. Q in the Richmond is also similar style, probably a bit better, and definitely less expensive.
131 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Dave, I was there the same night with a couple of others. We thought we recognized you! Good to know that the main menu might not be worth it. We only ordered dessert (after having the Izakaya menu at Sebo). It was a platter of stawberries and cream, house made chocolate ice cream, sponge cake with frangelico peanut butter and cinnamon sugar doughnuts with bourbon dipping sauce. The ice cream was somewhat icey but had good flavor, the sponge cake a bit bland or perhaps overpowered by the ice cream. the best item on the plate were the doughnuts which were the denser cakey type, nice with a crunchy cinnamon sugar outer layer and sweetened by the smooth bourbon dipping sauce. Overall I thought it was decent though nothing I'd make a special stop for.
re: Dave MP
My wife and I were with wanderlust21, and we agree that the desserts were good but not great. The price was decent -- around $20 for the sampler. We were a little disappointed that they hadn't changed their dessert menu from the last time we were there (also just for dessert) a few months ago (when the strawberries were, not surprisingly, much better). But overall, everything tasted fine and we'd return for dessert if we have a hankering in the neighborhood (and miette is closed).
I was with Dave MP and I must agree that sub-par is the best way to describe it. I went to this place starving, so my criticisms might be a bit softer than Dave's, but not by much.
I had the meatloaf, which tasted decent (though more like a giant hamburger wrapped in bacon than anything). The pork was probably the best thing the three of us had. If you find yourself there I say go for that. Though the Brussels sprouts that came with them were literally hard. And the veggie side on the steak had what I can only assume to be French's® onions. Fine for a mother making a quick dinner for her kids, not for a nice restaurant.
Other than that there wasn't anything that was outright bad (we did all finish our plates). Overall it was just an unimpressive kind of meal/place though. I was ok with it, thinking "eh, it was a whatever kind of meal" until we got the bill. There was nothing we had that even remotely validated that price.
I'll agree with everything. I was the third DC that evening and am still a little bitter for having paid $45 for a meal that tasted far worse than anything the three of us would have cooked up. My hanger steak was mediocre at best, and seasoned with the same five-spice powder that covered Dave's pork. The spinach "chiffonade" and crispy fried breading that came with it was practically nonexistent, and the broccoli romanesco gratin was relatively flavorless and overly creamy.
The meatloaf was ok, but I agree that it was more of a hamburger, and it was very oversalted. The veggies, as Dave said, were a joke.
I was very put off when I asked for butter for the bland focaccia and the waitress got defensive. She seemed a little put off again at the end of our meal when I told her we wouldn't be having dessert.
Maybe it was an off-night, but something about that place just seemed uninspired. The decor is strange, Terminator was playing on a TV behind the bar, the techno music clashed with the damask upholstery and gold walls, and the food was a disappointment.
I would have been much happier to spend my money at NOPA.
Thanks, Dave! I just crossed Sauce off my list -- the "fresh" strawberries in the dead of winter should have tipped me off that they are more interested in appealing to the masses with their comfort food style than in quality. I think we're going to go back to Sens and then take transit down to Civic Center.
Do they still have the smoked steak salad? That used to be a good quick meal for me standing at the bar before a performance at the symphony--not great, but satisfying and I could be in and out in under 30 minutes.
My (outdated) view of Sauce is that it's not worth going for a full dinner, but for some quick food at the bar it fills a niche pretty nicely. I remember for instance that their wine list wasn't very well currated with a bunch of mediocre no-name wines and a few heavy hitters like Caymus Special Select; a martini from the bar with my smoked steak used to hit the spot, however!
This place is still mediocre. I tried it last night with a few friends, and we were thoroughly underwhelmed. The prix fixe menu looked like a good deal, so all 4 of us chose that option ($30 for 3 courses). I started with the sesame shrimp/ahi tartare salad combo. The sesame oil on the ahi tasted oddly stale. The sesame shrimp was okay, but the shrimp didn't have a fresh taste to it. The mac 'n cheese with chicken was basically limp pasta with a very soupy alfredo sauce with a few stalks of tasteless asparagus thrown on top. I ended the meal with two tasteless strawberries with brown sugar and cream. Not worth the $30.