Review of Azuze in San Carlos-- Two Stars
Let me start by stating the service here is pretty bad. After sitting for almost 10 minutes I had to get up to find someone to help us, even though there were only about 4 other tables being used. Further, after ordering no one checked on us until after the meal was done.
Being a wine person I thought the list of wines, was well, sad to say the least. In this day and age most restaurants have at least a descent wine program. They had only a couple wines by the glass, none of them very good (though they were thankfully not over priced). The bottle list was very poor and for the most part expensive. Obviously, wine was not taken into consideration at this restaurant.
For an appetizer my friend and I split the crab cakes, which were not very good. They were over cooked on one side and undercooked on the other. The inside had a terrible texture. The sauce that came with the dish was rather bland and there was way too much of it.
For my dinner I had the ginger soy baby back ribs. They were not too bad and the price was offensive. In general though they could have been better, but I did enjoy them (hence the 2 stars instead of 1).
Skipped dessert. Most of the offering were run of the mill. Cheesecake, bread pudding, creme brulee, etc. Do to the lack of imagination on the dessert menu I was pretty sure they bought out or used frozen desserts.
There are some very good restaurants in the area, my suggestion is find something for the price.
We've enjoyed dining at Azure on multiple occasions, and while we still enjoy it, we are concerned that it has never been more than half full (two possible reasons below). As of late, the possible cash flow situation may have influenced ownership in turning the menu into a bit of a monstrosity.
Let me start by saying that there are quite a few strong dishes on the menu--the Foie Gras is always seared appropriately (not overcooked), the duck two ways (now called "Anatra al Forno") is delectable, the smoked steak with gnocchi quite creative. However, when we first began frequenting the restaurant it was more "food-oriented" and less "identity-oriented"; by this I mean that there was no Italian flag hanging outside, nor was the menu "Italianized" by designating primi/secondi (pasta/entree) dishes. Back then, the only deficiency was a Maitresse d' who was completely bizarre--I recall numerous odd conversations with that person who, thankfully, ownership cut loose. Unfortunately, that seemed to have been part of a "broad stroked" reaction to make the restaurant more conventional, but we feel that this has affected the creativity of the kitchen, as well as made things unnecessarily complicated for the cooking staff.
While before there were a handful of consistently quality dishes, there are now nine pastas and twelve entrees (more than twenty dishes!), which include such banal dishes as scampi, cannelloni, and chicken orchiette, turning the menu into a bit of a minefield. Also, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to have to be able to prep so many different dishes in sync for table delivery, or plan appropriately to keep stock of fresh ingredients for all of them. It's almost as if ownership pushed things to the point where it's now impossible for a staff to consistently deliver if the house ever fills up. The cashflow situation has also likely affected the wine list (as other readers have already pointed out).
I will continue to visit Azure in San Carlos, as it is still one of the few quality places to eat amongst the quite average Town, Spasso, and Piacere, not to mention others, but I no longer think twice about making the trek into San Francisco if I want a truly memorable meal. If you want to compare "Italian" venues, alongside A16 or La Ciccia there is no contest, really.
I can't believe you speaking so negatively aabout Azure. We were there last weekend, and all three of us were impressed with the great service and yummy food. The waiters couldn't do enough to please us, including splitting a lovely salad without charging extra. My ravioli and scallops with lobster sauce was beautiful to behold and to eat. The others in my party were very happy with their entrees. Two of shared a made-to-order very good choc. souffle.
Hope this balances out the negative comments.