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Has anyone tried the new Chez Papa Resto in the Mint Plaza?

t
teejaymoore Apr 20, 2008 09:32 AM

We live downtown and are big fans of the original Chez Papa in Potrero. I just noticed they opened a new restaurant in the Mint Plaza and wondered if the food was as good as the original? I'm thinking the atmosphere is likely better at the original, but interested in opinions as it would be nice to have Chez Papa within walking distance. Thanks

  1. grocerytrekker Apr 21, 2008 06:44 PM

    Chez Papa Resto in the Mint Plaza is a bistro, a surprisingly good one. A lovely place to entertain friends (and be entertained).

    Our server recommended the soupe du jour, a pea soup made with the freshest peas. It was excellent.

    Dishes I liked -

    Labelle Farms foie gras with fig jam, sauteed pears and Banyuls (fine dining quality)
    Seared diver scallops with fava beans, pistou and pine nuts (ditto)

    A dish I could have liked more - milk fed veal sweetbreads with black trumpets, snap peas, spring garlic emulsion. Sweetbread texture wasn't quite perfect.

    The server recommended lavender creme brulee, vanilla sablet, which was all right. The flavor wasn't too sharp. Because the dessert arrived late (I hardly noticed) they comped it!

    Then they brought us glasses of muscat, gratuit... They were almost TOO nice, I guess it was the opening week.

    The bottom line. Food here is actually worth it.

    1. d
      Debra Stuart Apr 22, 2008 02:46 PM

      I've been there twice. First time, we went in for drinks and apps before a show, then went back post-show to share the cheese plate and dessert wine. Highly recommended on both counts. The cheese plate is a good size and cheese in peak condition. Lovely ambiance at night. My husband went back with a work crowd for an early business dinner the following week and took over the large communal table. Everyone loved it. I think I prefer it to the original - at night anyway.

      1. rworange Apr 23, 2008 10:23 AM

        link

        -----
        Chez Papa Resto
        4 Mint Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. t
          teejaymoore May 18, 2008 07:52 PM

          Tried it last night and loved it. Sommelier was a lot of fun with a great recommendation and the food was as good if not better than the original. Also, while I love the charm of the original, this space is a bit more comfy (chair not bumped throughout dinner). Order the foie gras and pan fried filet (although friends had the halibut and scallops and both were GREAT as well). Nice addition to downtown dining. PS Debra - you were spot on - the cheese course was great and they even brought an extra little taste of one we were all fighting for.

          1. w
            Wendy_san May 19, 2008 06:59 PM

            We went a few days after they opened. It was a warm Saturday around noon and most people were sitting outside. It was too hot for us so we ate inside where I could see the outdoor seating area. As others have said the food and service were nice, but I couldn't help noticing that the alleyway where the restaurant is located was constant with foot traffic because it is a city street, I suppose (Jessie Street). I think if I'd been eating outside that could have been distracting, somehow being a different feeling from eating at a sidewalk cafe in North Beach, for example, since the alley is so narrow.

            1. rocio415 May 24, 2008 05:04 PM

              I also live near by and am dying for a GREAT new restaurant. I've never been to the Portrero location but been to the new location twice in the last 10 days. The first time I made a reservation 1 hour before we were to show up and they were very accomodating. Staff is super friendly, great server, and the owner went around to everyone's table multiple times to ensure everyone liked their food. We tried the crab salad, sweetbreads, steak tartare and pomme frites. With the exception of the pomme frites I thought everything was great.

              The second time the service was equally as wonderful but sat at the bar this time and I thought the bartender was a little overwhelmed and a bit slow. This time we had the steak tartare and sweetbreads again, and the lamb chops for appetizers. I thought the tartare could use a few less ingredients but you DO get to choose what goes into it, so I guess it was my fault. For entrees I ordered the Halibut which was overcooked (mushy not flaky) and my friend ordered the filet mignon (medium rare) which was undercooked. I sent my food back and received a very sincere apology from the manager who insited on fixing the problem.

              Overall I think the appetizers are great, good wine list, and AMAZING service. Entrees fell short but I did promise to give them one more try.

              1. singleguychef Aug 15, 2008 11:51 AM

                I went last week for the first time and enjoyed my experience but wasn't blown away. Still, a beautiful room and friendly service. My favorite was the light fried squash blossoms I had as a starter. It was the best thing I had all evening filled with mozarella and goat cheese and beautifully plated. I also had the port-braised sweet breads but the preparation was a bit off, kind of chewy.

                For my entree I had the grilled salmon with a citrus melange. The melange was a bit thick and had an off flavor when combined with the braised fennel, but the fish was nicely prepared. The entrees aren't as good a deal as the appetizers. You basically get the protein but no sides on the plate, so you have to order sides if you want a more rounded out dinner. But there's so many appetizer selections (including a really big bowl of mussels I saw at the table next door) that I bet you can have a good meal putting together some appetizers instead of ordering the entrees that were prices over $25.

                For dessert I had the almond-basil panna cotta and it was nice and thick.

                It definitely doesn't have the charm of the Potrero Hill place, but it is convenient in the Union Square area. I might go back for a drink and some appetizers.

                Photos here: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...

                1 Reply
                1. re: singleguychef
                  m
                  mizchalmers Sep 15, 2008 11:39 AM

                  That pretty much sums up my experience - although I appreciate the elbow room in the Mint Plaza compared to the crowded Pot Hill venue. I loved the squash blossoms. It's a perfect spot for a good meal before a film at the Metreon or in Westfield.

                2. Maple Sep 14, 2008 10:40 PM

                  We went for Saturday dinner and it was a wonderful experience - albeit a pricey one. The service WAS excellent as other hounds mentioned. We had the Kampachi Crudo, the Monkfish Boullabaisse, the Dorade with Sungold Tomatoes, and split the profiteroles. Everything was well-executed (though no to-die-for moment). The best was the shellfish stock they used for the Boullabaisse - arguably the best I have had anywhere.

                  1. l
                    Leo loves lemons Jan 12, 2009 07:54 AM

                    We had dinner Saturday night. First, I wish they would say park at the Mission garage, as we drove up to Market on 6th, then turned right on 5th. That makes it difficult to make a left turn onto Mission to enter the garage. I asked the receptionist where my husband should park & she just said the street-no thanks. He came in flustered after driving around & around.

                    Excellent cocktails. Attentive service. My steak tartare was strong-less garlic needed perhaps. There was a long delay before our entrees arrived. I think they were looking for the brussel sprouts that were supposed to go with my pork tenderloin. Instead of the real deal I received about 7 brussel sprout leaves. I think they were the ones that are peeled away. We agreed that salt was used perhaps too loosely as we both heavily consumed water later on in the evening.

                    Coffee was excellent.

                    We will definitely return.

                    Also, anyone knowledgeable about the Mint across the plaza?

                    1. David Sloo Mar 25, 2009 09:36 AM

                      I had lunch with two other chowish friends on Monday. Maybe Mondays are off there. It was not a place to which I would return for food. For drinks, sure.

                      The atmosphere and service are uptown button-down - a little hurly burly, but not too much (as they say).

                      We all had starters and sandwiches. The day's soup was mushroom, creamy. This got the best reviews. A fine soup, although I noticed that one of my tablemates didn't finish his.

                      The sandwiches were not so fine.

                      Pan bagnat. This should be a tuna sandwich. It should be a good tuna sandwich. Ours were disappointing tuna sandwiches. For a lot of people, just reading pan bagnat on the menu recalls Calvin Trillin's experience with a tuna sandwich in Nice, where the proprietress looks at the sandwich, with its olive-oil-laden ingredients, and squirts on more oil as a finish. Squirting on a lot of olive oil doesn't make up for too much egg and not enough anchovy and limp lettuce.

                      Chicken b.l.t. worked better. Chicken okay, but not gorgeous-tiny-machine-show. The staff served up the bacon separately so that dietary restrictions were met. Not remarkable bacon. (Remember the old maxim about bacon -- get the cheapest or the most expensive; this tasted in the middle.)

                      I had beef tartare. The Kobe-style beef is too fatty for this preparation. Not enough onions, nothing on the side to mix in myself. My own first encounter with beef tartare was at Windows on the World, and I got to pick out the different ingredients, then the waiter melded them in a bowl. No such luck here. The quail egg atop was the good part.

                      Overall, this meal was relatively uninteresting, everything had too much olive oil, and the ingredients seemed middle-rung. The location in Mint Plaza is swell -- we went to Blue Bottle to cleanse our tongues -- but you can have just okay sandwiches elsewhere in the neighborhood for a lot less.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: David Sloo
                        rworange Mar 26, 2009 07:54 AM

                        They just opened a new restaurant and the owner was there helping to open smoothly. He's a really nice guy. While nothing you mentioned seems it would change if he was at CP, maybe the focus currently being elsewhere throws things off a bit.

                        1. re: rworange
                          David Sloo Mar 26, 2009 09:04 AM

                          I had a great experience at Pizzanostra, and I hope that you're right and it's just a temporary digression from good food chez Chez Papa. (The servers and the place seemed great; having a prix fixe lunch is welcome; the wine list is thoughtful -- it was just too bad that none of our food was up to expectations or up to the Pizzanostra standard.)

                      2. m
                        mick Mar 25, 2009 09:53 AM

                        Have been several times lunch and dinner. Fabulous space, gracious staff and wonderful food.

                        1. z
                          zachschef Mar 26, 2009 11:11 AM

                          We were there a couple of weeks ago for dinner before a show. We were more rushed than I ever like to be at dinner, but here are my thoughts:

                          1. Our server listened to us when we mentioned we had an 8:00 curtain and reassured us in a delightful, playful way a couple of times through the meal. In my opinion, that's excellent service. He watched the clock, so we didn't have to.

                          2. For starters, we had the foie gras with pears and a fig compote. Excellent, wonderful. Also started with the mussels in (can't remember, so I am guessing) saffron, vermouth and fennel. Very good, but a little too spicy for an appetizer for me.

                          3. Entrees included lamb daub in red wine reduction (the only real miss for me; the lamb was flavorful and tender, however the reduction was a bit greasy and I felt it was a dish I could prepare at home myself). Partner had pan fried filet and it was fantastic -- mellow, light and sumptuous.

                          3. We had the panna cotta, which was very ordinary.

                          4. The room itself is beautiful and atmospheric. As mentioned, the service was standout. Server brought us each a glass of muscat to end the meal.

                          Will definitely go back.

                          1. d
                            dyuhas Jul 14, 2009 10:38 PM

                            Fantastic meal and great service. I had the squash blossoms, the heirloom tomato gazpacho, the lamb chops and a peach tarte tatin. All superb. The gazpacho was like biting into a ripe tomato. My wife had the the foie gras and the best scallops I've tasted since Rubicon. Wine was a bottle of lovely 2004 Domaine Richaud Cotes du Rhone.

                            For Bastille Day the restaurant had a trio playing great French music.

                            Highly recommended.

                            1. k
                              klyeoh Jul 27, 2009 12:55 AM

                              Had dinner there last Friday evening:
                              The waiter recommended some tiny but very sweet roasted green peppers to nibble on as I perused the menu.

                              What I had:
                              - Squash blossoms with Mozzarella, balsamic, roasted tomato coulis were absolutely ravishing!!
                              - Roasted chicken breast with confit leg, pistou & potato puree, ramps, peas, lemon-chicken jus. Very good.
                              - Love the ice-cream-filled profiteroles

                              The crowds can be maddening tho.

                              1. c
                                creuset May 13, 2010 02:04 PM

                                I wanted to see how Chez Papa Resto was holding up after the initial buzz. My chow friends were mentioning this branch (Mint Plaza) has the "up and coming" David Bazrigan.

                                Our foursome had high expectations--and we were still blown away. After fleeing to the East Bay for great dinner experiences, CPR is bringing me back into San Francisco. The restaurant was sold out on Saturday evening, but they still accomodated us. In the end, we were able to sit at the large communal table and had a great time seeing what other people ordered.

                                Service was excellent. Hostess was intimidatingly lovely and welcoming. Servers and food runners were top notch, efficient--recommendations and knowledge about source ingredients all there.

                                So, the food: I'd say it is Alice Waters (back in the glory days) meets Provencal Cooking. All the items were not only in season, but strictly in peak season. The chef seems a bit fanatic about achieving "hyper seasonality." Well, I'm glad someone is fanatic (besides me) and is creative/knowledgeable enough to create dishes to highlight Springtime. The entrees were about 25-30/dish--which I always eye skepticaly. I've been underwhelmed before at other SF restaurants (did someone say Zuni?). But turns out I think the prices were still a great deal. It's the same feeling I got after eating at Commis.

                                Our order (and to be efficient--all were amazing, especially the entrees):

                                *Bread basket--excellent as a french restaurant should have
                                *Amuse Bouche (Strawberry salad: imaginative)
                                *Asparagus soup (rich, creamy, but not fattening)
                                *Custom ravioli (based on Spaghetti Carbonara). We actually did not order this--we had asked about this because we had heard it about it from another foodie--basically a big ravioli with a deep yellow half-cooked egg inside, pancetta, peas--designed to be a playful reference to Carbonara. The waiter said they had sold out yesterday, so we were graciously disappointed. After the appetizers we ended up waiting a bit longer than normal for the entrees--turns out the chef brought out two orders of the carbonara ravioli--gratis. David did it for us on a whim. It must have been fairly time intensive for him to create the ravioli from scratch--but he wanted us to experience it. I'm not sure this would ever happen again, but we were amazed that the restaurant seemed to be as enthusiastic to share it's creations as we were to try them. This was the sort of commitment to the eater/customer as I felt we got at Guy Savoy in Paris.
                                *Halibut on sea beans--a golden crust encapsulating blindingly white flesh, gorgeously fresh, and perfectly done. Not a big fan of the accompaniment (sea beans)--akin to okra in texture, but it was so novel and thematic, I didn't mind.
                                *Seared chicken--crisp skin, tender insides, sumptuous orange/brown coloring?
                                *Steak Frites--wolfed down--not a fry was left. Steak and sauce deeply satisfying.
                                *Lobster poached in butter--a bit more pricey, but once again, a beautiful texture and taste and presentation.
                                *Panna Cotta
                                *Sorbet Selections

                                I have been long tired of the many clone tablecloth restaurants here in SF. I find myself heading to the East Bay for my food dollar lately. I love Commis, Wood Tavern, the Gather.. but after Chez Papa Resto, they made me feel excited to eat in SF again. Yes, the space is nice/large, there's al fresco dining on the patio, it's the best place near Union Square/Metreon... There is a lot of care and attention and dedication to the customer experience here. Even if we had not been gifted the surprise ravioli, we are definitely coming back.

                                I'm trying to think of any negatives... it was worth the price... I really can't think of any negatives on this visit. Going again later this month--if I see any flaws, I'll report it back later.

                                -----
                                Zuni Cafe
                                1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                Wood Tavern
                                6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                Chez Papa Resto
                                4 Mint Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                Commis
                                3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: creuset
                                  k
                                  klyeoh May 13, 2010 11:42 PM

                                  I liked your description of the soup: "rich, creamy, but not fattening" :-D
                                  There'd always been many, many reasons for loving the SF Bay Area dining scene, and Chez Papa Resto is one of them.

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