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Town Hall, Salt House, or Anchor & Hope

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lmnopm Jul 10, 2009 10:37 PM

It will be one of the 3 for a dinner, and someone is seeking my input. I've only been to Salt House for lunch, and enjoyed it. (Please do not suggest alternatives - it will be one of these 3.)

  1. s
    SteveG Jul 12, 2009 05:12 PM

    Almost every part of our single meal at Salt House (food, service, wine) was great. In contrast, many parts of our recent single meal at Anchor & Hope were off--from terribly overcooked crab claws & prawns (in a seafood place, no less), to an uninspired warehouse space, to bumbling service including removing our bottle of extremely rare and allocated wine for decanting out of our field of view, then sloshing the better part of a glass on the table while pretentiously pouring for us. None of the 3 is on my short list, but I have no reason to return to Anchor & Hope. I would happily go back to Salt House if a friend wanted to go there, but our meal was a few years back so I have no idea what kind of kitchen turnover may have happened.

    I didn't report on either due to single dining experiences at each, but if you have limited choices, I would steer you away from Anchor & Hope.

    2 Replies
    1. re: SteveG
      rworange Jul 21, 2009 10:50 PM

      link

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      Anchor & Hope
      83 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

      1. re: SteveG
        p
        peterme Sep 10, 2009 06:54 AM

        Just chiming in to agree. I went to Anchor and Hope for the second time last night. I love the idea of Anchor and Hope more than I appreciate the execution. I was appalled that I couldn't get a simple side salad -- the cheapest offering was $10. My entree was the lobster roll, which is surprisingly uninteresting. The lobster flavor was bland, the and lobster chunks were chewy. I see no reason to return.

      2. Pei Jul 12, 2009 08:17 PM

        I have only been to Salt House, , but the reason is Anchor & Hope is significantly more expensive. Yes, seafood costs a lot more than non-seafood, but the menu prices were a little breathtaking the one time I stopped in so I have never been. And aside from the uni appetizer which many people have recommended to me, I haven't heard anything that makes me feel compelled to go.

        My two meals earlier this year at Salt House were both very good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pei
          Robert Lauriston Aug 3, 2009 09:00 AM

          Per the sample menus online (starters / entrees):

          Anchor & Hope: $10-16.50 / $23-26

          Salt House: $11-22 / $23-30

          Town Hall: $8-14.50 / $14-21

        2. l
          lamster Jul 22, 2009 01:25 PM

          I have been to all three several times and I would pick Town Hall over Salt House or Anchor & Hope any day.

          Anchor & Hope has generally good food though prices are high and service is always really slow and bad.

          Salt House is good but doesn't really generate any excitement in me. I don't have any specific complaints but I don't remember any standout dishes either.

          Town Hall has several great dishes -- the shrimp starter, egg toast jalapeno thing (don't remember name, but its delish), the fried chicken... Atmosphere is always nice and with a party of 3, you will be able to hear each other just fine. Save room for dessert.

          1. s
            sk4sk4 Jul 22, 2009 04:41 PM

            town hall for sure, hands down. anchor and hope is a completely uneven experience both food and service-wise. salt house is totally solid IMO, but town hall just does it for me. the biscuits, fried chicken, duck, and one of the best dessert menus in the city all add up to a top notch dining experience.

            1. g
              gyc Jul 22, 2009 06:03 PM

              I've only tried Anchor & Hope and Town Hall, but out of those two I'd definitely pick Town Hall over Anchor & Hope. Although the food was delicious at Anchor & Hope, the acoustics of the restaurant was horrible. Now, Town Hall is also pretty loud, but Anchor & Hope's noise level was almost unbearable. I had to almost shout at my dining companions in order to carry on any sort of a conversation.

              5 Replies
              1. re: gyc
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                nsheth Jul 22, 2009 08:11 PM

                I just had dinner at Salt House this past weekend, my first time there, and I'd say I was a bit disappointed (as were my dining partners), given the good things I've heard. Perhaps this place shines more for lunch?

                We started with several appetizers - the poutine, foie gras, some baked oysters, a pork belly dish. The foie gras was very good, but past that, things were just a bit unexciting. For the entree, I chose the sole. The bouillabaisse it was served in was very tasty, but there just wasn't much of it, and seemed like that was the only thing in the plate with any flavor. There were similar reactions around the table.

                We did stick around for dessert - the creme fraiche cheesecake was very good, it would be going back just for that.

                But for a full meal, I won't be rushing back . . .

                1. re: nsheth
                  rworange Jul 22, 2009 11:49 PM

                  links

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                  Salt House
                  545 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                  Town Hall Restaurant
                  342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                  1. re: rworange
                    l
                    lmnopm Aug 2, 2009 10:51 PM

                    Town Hall it was. Dinner was great.

                    Starters - Tuna Tartare, Shrimp on the toast w/sauce, and a vegetable salad.
                    Mains - Pork Chop and the Fried Chicken
                    Desserts - the beignets and the pot de creme, plus an extra birthday plate of mini cupcakes.

                    There wasn't a miss in the bunch. Service was excellent, and while walking to the restroom (which takes you through the whole place) it is clear that just about everyone there was enjoying their time. The wine list was pleasant, and I picked out a french red that worked well with the food. I thought the pricing for everything was fair and right in line for that type of restaurant. I liked the space, too.

                    1. re: lmnopm
                      k
                      KathyM Aug 3, 2009 08:18 PM

                      I just went to Town Hall too. The starters were incredible. I had the veal meatballs with grits and the fried squash blossoms stuffed with cheese. My main of the pork chop was a little bit of a miss though. It was a little bit dried for my taste, but perhaps that's because I like my pork chop cooked medium rare to medium. The drinks were fantastic.

                      1. re: KathyM
                        l
                        lmnopm Aug 3, 2009 09:37 PM

                        Ah, yes. We also had the blossoms, which were very good. I almost agree with you on the chop doneness, but for me, and the particular chop I had, it could have been just slightly less done.

              2. bbulkow Aug 18, 2009 11:16 AM

                Quick Salt House report:

                Town Hall was out of the running because it was 9:30 and I hate walking into a restaurant as they're closing. Heaven's Dog was the other choice, but my party decided on SH because it was a quick walk from where we were (Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art League at 111 Minna).

                I'd report SH is as described here - solid, not super. We ate a lot of appetizers. Fresh corn was the staple of every dish. The fresh corn soup was superb and almost worth the price of admission. The pork belly and peaches didn't quite work - the pork was crispy cooked almost to a bacon consistancy, I would have thought leaving more fat in to accentuate the unctuousness of the peaches, although the pork was cut just like the peaches, perhaps so you might mistake the two, and the pork did "pop" with juice as eaten. The fois gras was good-but-not-great. The prep was simply the fois (properly cooked) on a bed of preserves, and I so prefer the "tower" presentations more common elsewhere, but that prep was solid. I know we had two more dishes but I honestly can't remember them - a bad sign.

                The service was generally excellent, with special care for our seafood alergic party member, including the waitress coming back and saying they fry fish in the oil for the fries, necessitating a change. Good catch! However, we had asked for all dishes ASAP family style, and the server gave us three courses and a long gap between two and three (the restaurant was empty, so the kitchen could have fouled up, but with the server standing in the kitchen, I don't see how that should have happened).

                We didn't have the oysters, clearly the pride and joy of the place.

                I like the looks of SH for oysters and drinks after work or early evening - that might be the place's sweet spot.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bbulkow
                  h
                  hong_kong_foodie Sep 19, 2009 12:04 AM

                  I would agree with what everyone is saying: namely that Anchor & Hope, while a great idea, falls a bit short on execution, while its sibling restaurants Town Hall and Salt House are pretty solid contenders for a nice but not outrageously expensive or over-the-top meal.

                  One of the items that I really enjoy from Salt House is the tea smoked duck salad. I've had it a few times, and the most recent one came with some plums, figs, and a generous portion of "breakfast" greens, all of which worked really together. The duck itself is smoked using a combination of Chinese teas, and the flavor that you get as a result is very similar to the smoky flavor found in many dishes from Shanghainese cuisine.

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