Yabbies Vs Roy's a Smackdown!
It was the worst of times, it was the best of times…
It was some night, a dining experience that won’t soon be forgotten. Family was in town from NY and we were staying in one of my favorite places in the country—San Francisco! I will try to stick to the subject—Food, wine, hospitality!
There are many tours one could take to experience a cities, sites, smells, and tastes. One tour that has never failed to please has been affectionately dubbed the Phil Tour after your humble narrator…
Even people who have been on the tour before, people who try to find fault have been unsuccessful. But these times, they are CHANGIN’!
The Phil Tour might need a face lift, after all, some of the places on the list have been perfect for over 14 years—This is just impossible to keep up! So like the Dow Jones Industrial average updates and upgrades from time to time, the Phil Tour needs a little remodel…
Who should stay and who should go now? (Which reminds me it’s been a while since I’ve practiced Rockband)
Yabbies Coastal Kitchen, a stalwart legend for neighborhood seafood fantastic and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine chain in every city will get a little looksie…
My first experience at Roy’s was about 15 years ago at The Inn at Spanish Bay on Pebble Beach overlooking the ocean—beautiful! It was amazing, it hadn’t been franchised all over the place yet and was too far away to revisit. Since, I’ve been to the one in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Palm Desert—all fantastic!
Roy's on Urbanspoon
And Yabbies, I fell in love with when it first opened 14 years ago and quickly became a regular. I did some advertising work for them in the early days and had an opening of one of my photography shows at the grand opening of their wine store located next door. I became close friends with the owners and staff and was eating or drinking there at least 4 nights a week. The food was always outstanding, regardless of how often they turned over chefs and they did quite a bit! The food and extensive wine list was always reasonable and I would go out with the friendly knowledgeable staff and owners after they closed for the night. Yabbies has always been on the recommend list—always!
Yabbies Coastal Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Tale One—the first stop!
I will now try to recreate the dining experience from start to finish:
Half full restaurant, (see my optimistic view point?) pretty much looks the same as usual, except for the lack of customers on a Friday night. No sign of a Manager, hostess, or bartender. There are business cards at the door for another restaurant EOS, that is located off Cole and Haight. Several waiters milling around, rawbar chef standing at attention, busboy, and kitchen chefs visible. The waiter who seats us is also the waiter for our table. We get menus to start.
Waiter: Just to let you know there aren’t any specials tonight because the chef has decided that there are so many great entrees on the menu, specials aren’t necessary.
*3 nervous diners wondering to themselves what the real reason is for not having specials*
iChef (Me): *business must be horrendous not to have specials. And for the waiter to draw attention to it by trying not to draw attention to it is a bad sign.* (Do my friends no longer own Yabbies?) What do we want to drink? Wine? Beer? The wine and dinner menu looks like there are fewer choices than I remembered. Let’s ask about beer.
What kind of beer do you have?
Waiter: Well, let’s see, we have some Heineken, a few Anchor Steam, and…
iChef (Me):You have a few, what does that mean?
Waiter: Well, there are some left over from last night, we only buy a few beers at a time based on the amount of reservations.
iChef (Me): Hmm, well can you check how many of each beer you have before we order?
Waiter: I’ll be right back.
Waiter leaves, busboy drops warm homemade herb bread and olive oil.
iChef (Me): Cousin: Cousin’s husband: What does that mean? Only have a few beers based on reservations. Are you telling us you only have two reservations. That’s not a good sign and sounds ridiculous! The bread is good, we need more. Do we know what we want to eat? Forget the specials—good sign!
Waiter: We have 3 Heineken left, 7 Anchor Steam, and 3…
iChef (Me): I’ll have a Heineken. (before they run out!)
Cousin: I’ll have a glass of Pinot Noir.
Cousin’s husband: I’ll have a Anchor Steam.
As waiter is leaving, could we get more bread—yes! Brings drinks, takes order doesn’t bring bread. We ask the busboy who happily gets more bread and olive oil.
The hot appetizer, tiny crab cake comes out before the four oysters and favorite Yabbies specialty Tuna Poke which come about 8 minutes later… Drinks are finished before appetizers are finished and our waiter is refusing to make eye contact with us because he knows we will want something he is ill prepared to get us. The empty dishes are sitting there making us feel like we are in a sink. The empty drink glasses are reminding us we are thirsty and there are only so many beers we could have any way. Tuna Poke was good, oysters okay, and crab cake small and insignificant.
iChef (Me): Cousin: Cousin’s husband: He’s refusing to make eye contact. If I were a waiter I would bring my own beer in so that I had something to offer the guests. It’s just poor waitering that he would tell us that they only buy as much beer as they have guests. I think they’re about to go out of business. We asked the busboy to remove the plates and for more bread. Here he comes catch his eye! No he’s walking by, my cousin puts her arm out to block his passage! Can we get another round here?
Waiter: Well, I have other customers over there that need something.
We have watched him help table after table, resist making eye contact with us over and over again. It’s apparent that he’s overwhelmed being the bartender, hostess, waiter for too many tables, making excuses for not having specials of a supply of beer—but every single bit of that is not our problem!
iChef (Me): Okay, I’m going to make a suggestion. I say we cut our losses right here and now, pay for what we ate and drank, and leave. Why are we putting ourselves through this?
Cousin: I agree
Cousin’s husband: yes, lets do it.
iChef (Me): We’ll go to Roy’s
Cousin’s husband: Okay
iChef (Me): (I get up and go over to the waiter.) We need to stop our order, we need the check, we have to leave.
Waiter: Is something wrong?
iChef (Me): Yes, we have to leave, we need the check.
Waiter: Is there something I can do?
iChef (Me): Yes, give us the check. (It made no sense to me to try to explain or let him try to explain his way out of this—free dinner couldn’t even help compensate or end the pain and disappointment!)
My Cousin who has much larger balls than me left a big zero for a tip, but left a note with the reason… We did personally give the busboy a tip—he was the only one working.
There will be no more chances—it’s over Johnny, it’s over! Yabbies is off, as in awful, the Phil Tour…
Second Tale—same city!
We got in a cab and sped off to Roy’s on Mission. We had to wait, but were sat before we even finished our cocktails at the bar. (a wait—good sign!) It was Friday and I had a Mai Tai, a Roy’s Famous Mai Tai—bringing Mai Tai Fridays back! Roy’s is charming and elegant, but warm and friendly. They drank beer, and Roy’s had as much as we could drink or order.
Our waiter was nice, well groomed, and knowledgeable.
* Tempura Ahi Roll: Panko & Furikake Crisped Spicy Tuna, Avocado & Cucumber $11. This was so super delicious we had ordered another one at the end of our meal!
* Roy’s Canoe Appetizer for Two: Szechuan Baby Back Ribs, Ahi Tuna Poke, Lobster Potstickers, Shrimp Sticks, Kalua Pork Lumpia $28 Super-genius and each item was more delicious than the previous, but my personal favorite was the baby back ribs.
* Roy’s Classic Roasted Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi Lobster Butter Essence.
* Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé: Flourless Chocolate Cake with a Molten Hot Center served à la Mode. This alone was to die for!
Roy’s has conquered the test of time and palate challenge, reigns supreme, and has pushed Yabbies into the sea. Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine is now along side the gods on the Phil Tour!
Roy’s was truly the best of times!
575 Mission Street
For the complete review and commentary visit: http://www.irasciblechef.com/two-tale...
I'm pretty sure Yabbies changed hands about 4-5 years back. I even seem to rememeber
it being closed for a while during the change, but I could be imagining.
I was there a lot before and occasionally after the changeover and never noticed much
difference. If they're still doing the happy hour $1 oyster thing, it's a great place for
you, your friend, a dozen or two bivalves, and a bottle of whatever serviceable and
not-too-expensive fizzy wine they've got on the list.