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Aug 12, 2008 10:06 AM

Piperade Review - LONG

My husband and I lived in SF several years ago and go back frequently to visit friends and family and to satisfy our burrito cravings! This past Saturday, we had dinner with my brother-in-law and wife at Piperade. After reading several reports from other 'hounds, I was eager to try the food and hopeful that the restaurant had resolved its service issues. Alas, it was not to be so...

We had an early reservation (6pm) and when we walked in, we were taken by how lovely the dining area was. We were promptly seated but had to wait about 10-15 minutes before the server greeted us at the table. He immediately asked if we wanted to start with a cocktail and when we declined, we promptly walked away which I thought was just odd at the time.

After he returned, we ordered our wine and our dinner courses. We started off with three appetizers: the dungeness crab, the piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese and pine nuts and raisins and the grilled calamari with fennel, olives and capers. The appetizers came out quickly and were enjoyed by all. I particularly liked the mango and roasted bell peppers with the crab - very delicate and light. However, at two seperate times, the servers came by and tried to take our appetizer plates....while there was still food on them!

Approximately 1 minute after the appetizers were cleared, our dinner entrees arrived. My brother in law and I both ordered the seafood stew, which consisted of mussels, clams, salmon, tuna shrimp and a large sea scallop in a red bell pepper sauce (can you tell that I love roasted peppers?). The seafood was perfectly cooked and while I liked the sauce, it was a bit one-dimensional. Yes, I understand it was described as a red pepper sauce so I guess I shouldn't be critical but I thought there were be other flavor notes in the sauce. My husband ordered the pork tenderloin with figs and cabbage, which he enjoyed and my sister in law ordered the piperade, which was delicious.

However, about this time, the service went seriously downhill...

We finished our wine and ordered another bottle. At this point, we were about 3/4 of the way done with our entrees. The second bottle arrived and we chatted and tried to enjoy our wine and the remainder of our meals. Again, the servers came twice to ask if they could clear our plates.

After our dinner plates were taken away, our server immediately gave us dessert menus. Two minutes later, he was back to take our order. We had a few questions, mine being: "can you tell me what is on the cheese plate?" His response (and I'm not kidding) was "a couple pieces of cheese." I was shocked and even more so when he then said "sheep, cow and goat cheese" and walked away. I couldn't believe it!!

After he left our table, we started chatting again (mostly about how ridiculous his answer was) and the server came up and interrupted us mid-sentence to ask us what we wanted for dessert. We ordered koka and the gateau basque. Both were delicious.

After the dessert plates were cleared, our server immediately gave us our check and propped it up so that it was standing up on the table. I give this detail because it is relevant for the next part of my review. Our server walked by the hostess stand, said something to her and then the hostess came to our table and took the check. Then she looked at it and pointedly said to us, "oh, you haven't paid it yet." and plopped it down on our table! It was clear from the way that the check was propped up that we had not put a credit card down but they obviously wanted us to leave so that they could turn the table.

Now you probably are long were you at the table? When we walked out of the restaurant, it was 7:50pm...less than 2 hours. We ended spending about $200 per couple and I can say that while the food may be good, my dining experience was ruined by Piperade's service issues. I will not be back as there are so many other good restaurants in SF.

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  1. Thanks for the update. It is funny, although it wasn't as extreme, the service on my visit around when it opened was similar ... and the restaurant was empty. I guess if you know what to expect, it isn't so surprising. There are just places like that. If the food is good enough to ignore the service, you go back.

    1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

    1. Interesting that you posted this. We had dinner at Piperade Friday night and I was planning to post a review!

      We had an 8 pm reservation. We were taken to our table immediately upon arrival. The restaurant was busy, but no one was waiting at the bar.

      Our server never rushed us, as Kaffy reports. Indeed, the chef (we thought it was the chef as he was wearing a chef's jacket) came out to talk to us about the wine list and recommended a few choices. We were ordering by the glass, but no one seemed to be off-put that we didn't have a cocktail or a bottle.

      We also had the calamari (which is delicious) and a tomato tartlett with balsamic vinegar -- divine. We then had the cod (the Friday special) and the lamp chops with gigante beans. Both were good, but the lamb was especially good -- a decent sized portion for lamb chops and cooked to medium rare perfection.

      After dinner, we were asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu. We did, but my husband wanted to finish his wine first and we were never rushed by the waiter. We had a chocolate and hazelnut roche which was delicious. I would definitely go back.

      1. I hate to jump on someone when he's already been kicked but I had a similar experience to yours back in November.

        I remember being with my date and being treated poorly when they took a first look at us. We're both pretty young looking but I got the impression that they thought "Oh, here's some cheap kids. They don't need to be treated well."

        My biggest beef at the time was getting the wine about five minutes after they had started serving the food. No apologies. I had to ask where it was. The busboy, that goodness for him, could see me getting miffed and went out of his way to get us our wine.

        Anyway, I guess my impression was wrong (about appearing young & cheap) because it seems the poor service seems to be a reoccuring thing. Too bad because we also thought the food was excellent.