03/08 B-44 : Super Spanish Tapas and Paella
On our annual Cal. foodie and ocean vaca., there are 6 SF/wine country restaurants to which we always return: Aziza, Betelnut, B-44, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen;and Yank Sing and Foreign Cinema for brunches.Last week, we were shopping at Le Sanctuaire just down the street, so we lunched at B-44 and had delicious food again. At 2:30, the end of their lunch service, it was very calm and quiet(very different from the packed bustle of dinner)
and we chuckled as the intrepid pigeon ("our regular customer")returned again and again , determined to continue her daily walking regimen inside the airy space.
We ordered 2 tapas, 1 paella(lunchsize) , 2 desserts, and there was not a loser.Portions are generous, flavors are bright and robust, food is fresh and well presented. There are 26 hot and cold tapas offered. (Would that Bocadillos would offer this kind of variety so we could be tempted away.) This is a trad. tapas place; no fusion here. I don't think the menu changes very much, if at all. Our waiter was food knowledgeable, friendly, spunky, attentive.
I really like their fennel/orange/anchovy/garlic olive oil dipping mixture for their bread,
(though it was more flavorful last year.)
The addition of pimenton(La Chinata, for you CH cooks) to the Warm Octopus w/ Fingerling Potatoes- was a very tasty touch, and one I intend to replicate at home. I just added my typical lemon juice squeezes, and I was a very happy camper. Calamari and Octopus are both delicious cousins but I do enjoy the rarer menu experience of the mild but distinct flavor and 'steakier' chew of octopus.
The Spicy Red Pepper Sauce is what makes the Lamb Brochette with cucumber salad.
We were intrigued by the Rabbit Confit w/ a Hazelnut Liver Sauce, but ordered the paella instead. Anyone tried this dish; comments?
The chefs probably wanted to go home so they undercooked the rice a little in the
Paella B-44, and it could have used a bit more liquid, but flavors were excellent and
we devoured every last grain of rice.
The Crema Catalan was perfect. Creamy, not grainy, with excellent lemon presence.
An unusual multi layered cake, similar in prep/technique to tiramisu, was also lovely.
Because I never seem to see B-44 on SF CH posts, I'm guessing it's favored by those who work nearby, and tourists. If it's fallen off, or never been on- your radar, do give it a try. Highy satisfying.
We, too, were disappointed in the selection and quantities at Bocadillo. We were pleased with our lunch at Piperade, where the owner of both places, Gerald Hirigoyen, was actually cooking that day. The sweetbreads were the only disappointment -- copious but somewhat bland. The traditional garlic soup was memorable.
We have never been to B44, but after reading all the reviews on this site, are anxious to try it.
I regularly recommend B44. I think it's the best of the Belden places and the best of the two Catalan places I know of. My favorite dishes include xato, mushrooms a la plancha, arros negra (most favorite), romescada, baccala amb samfaina, and rabbit, washed down with lots of cheap cava.
44 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104