Great Dinner at Gitane
A few weeks ago the Chronicle mentioned the proprietor of Cafe Claude had opened a new restaurant on Claude Lane. So Tuesday night I checked out Gitane. The restaurant looks great. It's got a dark supper club kind of atmosphere. On a Tuesday afternoon the restaurant filled up and the bar was hopping by the time we left.....What recession?
Nice wine list. When they bring water they put a carafe on the table -0 which as a heavy water drinker I love. We had a bottle of the Palacios Petalos Bierzo which was lovely. I started with the gazpacho which was more of a puree than the typical chopped soup. It was garnished with a drizzle of basil oil, croutons and cucumber. It was light, fresh, flavorful..exactly what I was looking for. I followed that with the chicken Tajine served with a side of couscous. The presentation is great - in a ceramic tajine. If you take a look at their website you can see the dish on the front page. It was delicious, wonderfully moist and nicely seasoned. For dessert I had the Bavarois au Fruit Rouge. This was a very light fresh layered dessert of fruit mousse, rasperries and what seemed like a cake layer - but was per the menu joconde biscuit.
Service was smooth. The waiter seemed familiar with the menu, the bus boy was attentive and the manager stopped by to see how our meal was.
It's a very nice addtion to downtown dining and I will be back - soon!
Gitane Restaurant & Bar
6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108
I just went to dinner at Gitane with my husband and we had a wonderful meal. We started out with the goat cheese wrapped in grilled eggplant, as well as a side of the patatas bravas with three dipping sauces as our appetizers. The first was excellent, and the second was good (although we weren't sure why tartar sauce was one of the dipping sauces). For our entrees, I got the vegetable tagine and my husband got the pizza primavera with portobello mushrooms (for an additional $3). The pizza was pretty good, although probably the weakest out of all the dishes we ordered.
As for the tajine - having been to Morocco recently, I was surprised with Gitane's interpretation of tajine and couscous. Tajine, which is simply a stew (usually available both with meat and without) is served with a round french bread roll in Morocco, and not with couscous (which is its own dish served separately in Morocco). Also, in Morocco the tajine always comes in the tajine dish. I was quite surprised to find that Gitane's tajine came in a regular bowl with a side of couscous, and the couscous (not the tajine) was put in the tajine dish. All of these little quibbles aside, the actual "tajine" was amazing. It was perfectly spiced and full of flavor, which I really appreciated because almost all of the vegetarian tajine OR vegetarian couscous dishes I got in Morocco were superbly bland.
After our appetizers and entrees, we both were too full for dessert. Overall - an excellent meal and a place that we will definitely return to.
last week i met some friends at gitane for dinner. there were six of us, so we did a pretty comprehensive sweep of the menu.
they were out of something essential to make the normandy, a cocktail with calvados, sparkling cider, and a bitters soaked sugar cube, so i ordered an adonis instead, which had sherry, orange bitters...i can't remember. it didn't work for me.
the bacon bonbons, which everyone seems to adore, were good but maybe...too simplistic? not against simplicity but i have a feeling you might find these offered in bay area homes at dinner or cocktail parties in the coming year. still, if prunes, bacon, and goat cheese sounds like a winning combination, you will probably like these.
my favorite appetizer was the quail stuffed with chicken mousseline, with raisins and shallots in a rich sauce. comes on top of sauteed spinach. the quail was deboned, stuffed, and halved. it wasn't nearly as heavy as it sounds, and i could've eaten the whole quail as my main course and been happy.
the bastilla was interesting, as the phyllo sheets were folded around the duck and chicken in triangular packages, like little turnovers. while i was glad that this version wasn't too sweet, i found the overall effect underwhelming. "subtle, you mean," my friend corrected me. she liked it better than i did. my portion was quite small, though, and i don't think i got enough of the duck and the spices.
the piquillo peppers stuffed with crab was my least favorite. it sounds much better on the menu, but the cucumber tagliatelle didn't add anything and i don't remember much in the way of lemon confit flavor.
for mains, i opted for the corderos, the rack of lamb with fried polenta, walnuts on broccolini. the lamb was perfectly cooked, the triangles of polenta were rich, soaking up the sauce. everyone at my table that tasted the lamb said i had ordered the best dish, and one of them even turned to a couple nearby that was about to order and insisted that they order the lamb.
i took bites of the sea bass, which came in a romesco sauce and a cake of black rice. i thought it was cooked well and i liked the romesco. i also tasted the cataplana, the portugese fish stew, which, judging from that small portion, i thought was the second best dish. the broth tasted bright, a bit smoky and spicy. two of us ordered tagines, both the chicken and the vegetarian. meh. and the last dish ordered was the serrano pizza, which came very thin, with house-made mozzarella, arugula, and sheets of serrano ham draped on top. it was good, nice balance in ingredients, but eating a pizza in that environment seemed odd. the restaurant is so...well i'll get to the decor in a second.
a few of us split the beignets, pillowy fried dough that came with three dipping sauces: a lemon curd, spiced chocolate, and a flavored honey. i can't remember what kind. i love fried dough. pickier companion later said he thought it wasn't a good version. but risen dough, deep fried, dusted in sugar? it was good enough for me. but i didn't care for the spiced chocolate sauce.
i didn't order wine, but we had two very tasty riojas. sorry, no details.
now, i don't usually care about decor and ambience, but gitane is a gorgeous restaurant. the downstairs bar has impressive light fixtures, two massive curtains printed with what i remember as being renaissance-era art. the attention to detail in the panelling, the cushions in the booths, the lights, etc. it was...very well designed. oh and i usually don't encourage my friends to make a point of visiting the bathroom, but i did here. which is why i felt a little odd eating a slice of pizza.
while the food veered from decent to great, i still really enjoyed my meal at gitane, and can see myself going back to sit at the bar for a drink and a small meal. like a whole stuffed quail to myself.
Augustiner, you have almost written my post for me. Our experience and dishes are so similar.
We also had a party of six.
Most people ordered mains from the menu, but we had several small plates around the table for apps. I had the stuffed quail for a main and it was perfect for me. My group tried everything from the lamb, to the seafood stew (Cataplana) to the ribs and everyone enjoyed their dishes.
The bacon bon bons are great bar snack. They come 6 to an order. They were a nice addition to the appetizers for the table, but eating more than one might be palate overkill. And, yes, if I were hosting a cocktail party at home, I would definitely steal this idea. :)
The sommelier has helpful in choosing wines that would compliment everyone's dishes. The wine list is strictly Spanish, Basque, Portugese and French. There is a selection of wines that are offered by the glass and by the carafe (about 2 1/2 glasses) and the by the bottle prices are reasonable.
In general, this is a reasonably priced restaurant. It is also small and if you want a table in the very lovely upstairs room you should make a reservation. There are also sidewalk tables, which will be nice in the warmer months.
The bar has great cocktails. The bartender will consult with you and recommend a cocktail to your exact taste. The decor is fabulous, you will feel transported from your everyday experience.
It is a fun place, even if you just stop into the bar for a drink and maybe an app.
We just went for a bday dinner(7 people). We sat upstairs and loved it. The food, service and atmosphere were all very good. Among the items we particularly liked: the bacon bonbons &, the pastilla. Most of us had chicken tagine which was delicious. Among the desserts:the chocolate cake, the rasberry and lemon glace and the beignets. I think the desserts are a bit "weak" compared with everything else. Our cocktails were great. I think it's a pretty good wine list. Unfortunately, my dinner companions were not wanting to try a priorat. We went for a minervois which I found a bit "small" but it more fit into every else's idea of what they should be drinking. I'd go here again in a heartbeat!
Any idea if it's open on Monday nights? My daughter is visiting from NY next week and Monday's my day to take her out to dinner. I figure it might be a trip, because she took me to Cafe Claude for the first time, seemingly like 20 years ago, plus she's spent some time in Marrakech.