OMG - George Morrone is back!
Last night we experienced the 2nd of 4 "Mondays with George" at Fish & Farm--OMG! Four courses of heaven for $48 ($70 with wine pairing). This is such a bargain for cuisine of this quality (and George puts enough on the plate) that I had to alert the Hounds.
Just the facts, ma'am!
Cauliflower Point Reyes Bleu Cheese Soup with port marscapone swirl.
Choice of Carpaccio of Yellowtail Tuna or deconstructed "Spinach Salad" Souffle.
Choice of local Petrale Sole with ritz cracker crust & fennel fritters or Peppercorned Slow Roasted Ribeye.
Choice of Classic Chocolate Mousse with English toffee or Vanillla Bean Panna Cotta with Champagne Granita & Summer Berries or Tasting of Local Artisinal Cheese (well garnished, I might add).
George was schmoozing, working the room, delivering plates and chatting with us. Executive Chef Jake Des Voignes finally came out of the kitchen to say hello.
The restaurant was packed--with a large table of SF Chronicle Food Section writers on the largest table. Yes, MB was there.
So if you've missed the Morrone touch, there are 2 more Monday evenings scheduled. (not Labour Day).
We had a great meal at a very good price!
Welcome back, George!
I was there last Monday and wanted to add my 2¢ to Ridge's post about the dinner,
Here's the menu:
Fish and Farm, Sept 8, 2008, Monday with George Morrone
Brentwood farms white corn soup
Smoked bacon/New Mexican chile/cilantro
Dungeness crab cake
Heirloom tomatoes/basil aioli/aged sherry vinegar
Carpaccio of yellowtail tuna
Asian pear/habanero-sesame oil/mint
Loch Duart salmon
Oyster-saffron”bisque”/leed custard/king trumpet mushrooms
Grimaud Farms moulard duck breast
Peach ginger chutney/duck confit-potato “hashbrown”/cole slaw
Bananas Foster “Fish & Farm style”
Vanilla ice cream
Crème fraiche fritters
Stone fruit marmalade/crème fraiche
Tasting of local artisanal cheeses
I was in a party of 3 so I had a chance to sample everything. I wouldn't say I was disappointed with the food, other than not having any WOW factor. And, the choice of Loch Duart salmon and Dungeness crab cakes, no matter how well-prepared, could only be described as uninspired. That said, the salmon prep was better than the duck.
Service was good. We found out that the butter is Cremerie Classique from Oregon. Best part was the $5 corkage for Calif wines. We had a pair of 1997 Pinot from Hirsch vineyard on the Sonoma Coast, one from Siduri and the other from William Selyem. If anyone has either wine, the W-S was glorious and so much more complex than the Siduri and still not at peak yet.
re: Melanie Wong
Hey, I was 4 tables down from you that evening, and my friend and I were in awe of the wines on your table. :D I concur about the food - while it was very good indeed, I wasn't as blown away as I thought I would be...? Perhaps my expectations were too high from the hype. My friend and I felt that the yellowtail and duck confit home fries were the real stars of the evening. I enjoyed the salmon but found the custard underseasoned. The duck was tasty but seemed anachronistically autumnal. The soup was deliciously corny with plenty of bacon... all in all, solid and excellent, if not totally mind-blowing.
Oh, too bad you didn't introduce yourself, as our server ended up with a couple large pours. I was surprised to see so few wine bottles on tables. I'd thought that with the low corkage and value-pricing on the set menu there would be a lot more and we'd have a chance to trade tastes with other tables. Towards the end of the evening, I did notice that the party on the opposite side of the aisle in the booth at the street side of the restaurant was contemplating a few bottles. But by then it was too late in the night, and they were too far away for us to see what they'd brought. (vbg)
To start, we also ordered one glass of the Robert Hall Viognier that was part of the pairing to split. I like viognier with heirloom tomatoes, so it did ok with that element in the crab cake dish. It was too heavy and low in acid for the ahi tuna, but still ok if less than ideal. We didn't try the Flowers "Perennial" PN that was offered with the main, did you?
As you say, the duck was too autumnal. Also, the skin may have been crisp, but it was made soggy by the chutney on top. I liked the duck confit hash, yes, more like hash than crispy hashbrowns. But this dish just didn't satisfy.
Funny, the custard was my favorite part of the salmon dish! That entree was most like what I consider the Morrone style in its detailing. When he stopped by our table, he mentioned that some parties hadn't liked the PN with the salmon, which struck us as really odd. But after we tasted it, I could understand why as the fish itself didn't have the robustness and depth of flavor of our wild product, even when boosted with the mushrooms and savory fried leeks.
The desserts were the product of the house, not Morrone creations, per our server. I really liked the creme fraiche fritters. They were really crackly crunchy, not just crisp, and I liked the moist and somewhat heavy centers. The Earl Gray tea infused creamy stuff didn't appeal to me, but I did like the stonefruit marmalade a lot. We thought the cheese plate was done nicely with the accompaniments, and the Cowgirl cheeses were served riper than I've had them elsewhere.
Was last night the end of the Morrone series? Anyone there?
re: Melanie Wong
I was there again last night. (Okay, I'm a serious fan of the chef.) Better & better. Portobello Mushroom Soup (with a custard & fried mushroom), quail with smoked heirloom tomatoes & smoked arugula, sea bass with chorizo aoli, lamb to die for--and really wonderful desserts! Because it was our wedding anniversary, chef sent us out mini-tastings of all the night's dishes--yum city! Anyway, he told us he's been extended through October. At least one of my friends could not get in last night--it's a relatively small restaurant, part of its charm, and I for one want to go back and bring friends. There are nice large booths for groups. So check it out, hounds! $48 per person for George's food is such a deal!
You know, last night's menu and the one you originally posted sound more appealing than the one I had last week. I might try it again, but would check to find out the night's menu beforehand and cancel if it didn't appeal.
I'll mention that the website states only two byo bottles per party allowed. I had originally planned to have a group of six here, but with the bottle limitation decided to have a smaller party.
re: Melanie Wong
I was there last night w/ my husband & a couple of friends. I believe there's one night left in the series. However, we overheard that they're trying to extend it.
The dinner was so-so. There were some amazing dishes & some dishes that were "eh". The service was a bit lacking. Our server apologized after the soup for taking so long between courses. When they finally brought out the next course, one of our friends asked if it is normally served after the 2nd course listed on the menu. Turns out they had forgotten our 2nd course & took back the 3rd course so that we could eat the food in order.
Here's what we had:
Cream of mushroom soup w/ a chanterelle fritter & garlic custard - AMAZING! Easily the best dish of the night. The soup was incredible, and the fritter was light, not too greasy. The garlic custard sounded weird, but when paired w/ the soup, they worked well together. One of our friends kept asking for more soup anytime a server or George (very friendly!) asked if we needed anything. He asked so often, he George did send out some more soup (w/o the fritter & custard, but still excellent soup).
The next course was either gravlox or quail w/ roasted tomatoes, balsamic vinegar & something else. My husband thought the quail was just ok, nothing special. My friend's was a little too rare for her. She had to eat some bread w/ butter (which was delicious BTW), to get the bloody taste out of her mouth. The gravlox on the other hand, was very yummy. I can't remember what came w/ it, but it was excellent.
The third course (they brought out new ones) was either boneless lamb or alaskan black cod. The lamb looked good, but I think my husband thought the best part of the dish was the robuchon pureed potatoes (which were excellent). The black cod was waay too salty. It came w/ a chorizo broth, clams & small cubes of yummy potatoes which were good. But the baby leeks that came w/ it didn't really seem to go.
The desserts were great. I had the creme fraiche fritters w/ concord grape jam & a flavored creme anglaise. My friends preferred the creme anglaise w/ the fritters, but my husband & I both preferred the jam. The jam was so good, I scooped a spoonful & ate it when the fritters were gone. I should have asked for bread to go w/ it. Everyone else got the "German" chocolate cake w/ bi-rite toffee ice cream, chili oil & bits of coconut. This dessert was also excellent.
Going back to the service, I had gotten one of their sodas (very good)... they came by & asked if I wanted another one & I wasn't sure, I wanted to look at the menu again, and they cleared my drink away! I had one or two more sips left, but oh well. They also tried to clear the bread basket away but we asked for more. When we were done w/ dessert except for one lone bite of chocolate cake, a server tried to take it away too! She didn't ask if I was finished, but just tried to take it. I told her I wanted the last bit and grabbed my spoon, and the server HOVERED over me. Since the cake came w/ ice cream & chili oil, I wanted to get some of it on the last bite of cake, and she just turned her head away but continued to hover over me. It was really weird.
Overall the experience was ok, but they definitely need to work on their service. The atmosphere was nice, it's a cozy restaurant & it was nice seeing George checking on the tables. He was very friendly. He even enjoyed a glass of wine w/ one of the tables.
I was there this week for the Monday dinner and loved it. I won't recap the selections since several people have mentioned it, but I have to say my favorite was the portabella mushroom soup. It had such a mix of textures and was very flavorful. Everything else was cooked perfectly. I found it an enjoyable night and George Marrone check in with the tables at almost every course. So he was definitely a gracious host.
The last scheduled Monday dinner is this coming Monday, but when I chatted with Marrone and our server, both says that it's been so popular that it may be extended into October. Let's hope they do!
re: Melanie Wong
We did indeed choose the wine pairing, hence leaving our bottles at home. The Flowers was lovely if a bit young, and the slight hint of baking spice complimented both dishes well. The firey habanero in the yellowtail had me concerned about the wine pairing as well, and i agree with you about the lack of acidity - my beer was a better match for it...
OK, I went last Monday (same night, same menu as OP) and I have to say I loved it. The price is amazing for what you get: $48 for 4 courses, $70 with wine pairing. Just know that Mondays w/ George are tasting menu only, apparently. The first course was the best cauliflower soup I have ever had. Chunks of just cooked (meaning still firm, not mushy) cauliflower, just the right amount of cheese (you could definitely taste it but it never over-powered the veg)--perfect. This was paired with some sort of cider.
Side note: I know this is a weird thing to rave about but the butter that came with the bread was fantastic. Sweet, creamy, at exactly the right temp with exactly the right amount of sea salt sprinkled over it.
Next I had their version of a "spinach salad": spinach soufflé with a bacon-cream sauce poured in tableside along with rich chunks of bacon. The outside of the soufflé may have been just a hair past its cooking time but no matter. The inside was creamy and fluffy and simply delicious. This is a very rich dish. Paired with a Sauvignon Blanc that I don’t recall.
Next I had the petrale sole. Perfectly cooked and the Meyer lemon tartar sauce was great (and I hate tartar sauce, it comes off to the side so you don’t have to use it). I wasn’t a huge fan of the Israeli cous-cous in a vivid green fennel puree but others at the table liked it. The real star, for me, were the fantastic fennel fritters that came with this dish. Baby hearts of fennel (I *think*, they were very small and tender) in a crisp, light batter that stayed on the veg instead of sliding off. I could eat a plateful of those suckers. Paired with a Riesling, “Gobelsburger” (sp?), I think?
I was too full for my cheese course so they kindly packed that up for me to go. The room is on the small side and oddly looked bigger when it was Sultan even though everything was much darker when it was Indian. It was packed when we arrived for our 8:45 reservation and there was a short wait. When we were seated, the owner came over and told the waitress to make sure that service was spritely as he was sure we were hungry and tired (he was right) and they kept the pace moving. Nice touch. Service was outstanding throughout the night.
OK, so here is the real kicker: even if I never eat there again (but I will, I need to find out exactly how one mesquite grills risotto, on their reg menu), I WILL return to the bar for their signature cocktails. I mean, c’mon! Grilled lemonade??? It was a component in some sort of strawberry cocktail and it was great! I had something called the “Summertime Smash”: muddled nectarine, bourbon, bitters, cider… like a sparkling, refreshing Manhattan on the rocks. So good! I also tasted some cucumber something-or-other that was refreshing, and said strawberry drink. They were all fantastic.
All in all, a great night. I was not aware that the Mondays with George are not on-going but if you have the opportunity, go. I have never been for the normal service so any feedback on that is welcome.