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Aug 10, 2009 02:00 PM

Sea Rocket Bistro

Not to much on the boards about this place.

Does anyone have an opinion about SRB?

We might eat there tonight.

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  1. It's pretty good. Nothing life-changing, but some very tasty seafood.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Josh


      That sounds a bit lukewarm.

      1. re: Dagney

        It's certainly not bad. I just wasn't blown away by it. To put another way, I wouldn't call it a destination restaurant. As a neighborhood place, it's a better option than many.

    2. i went last week. I thought it was good. They had a coupon which made it nice. I think I woudl do a series of starters isnead on entrees.

      1. The food there is good.

        Altough, being that they do the "local/sustainable seafood" thing, the times I've been there it's been a little strange that they run out of their daily catch as quickly as they do. Especially since the only seafood "filet" option for entrees on the menu is usually a single dish featuring the daily market catch. So, if they're out of that, then it's pretty much like not having a choice of fish at all, since the rest of the entrees are all other non-filet types of seafood (stew, seafood pasta, sea urchin, paella). The first time I went must've been around 5:30-6:00pm and the place had maybe one other table seated. Sat down to order, and as my date and I were about to order the fish of the day, the server promptly told us that only one of us could order it, since it was the last piece.

        Believe me, I get the concept. But I think it may be a case of the restaurant having a hard time balancing the amount of business they are getting with the budget/stock required to have to "dump" some nice pieces of fish at the end of the night if they need to if the tables go empty. I dunno.

        One particular pet peeve with the place is that they used to charge something ridiculous for bread. Like $1.50 or so. It came with a nice herb butter, but it's only four thin fingers of a ciabbata. All evidence points to it being the standard Bread&Cie stuff, so it's not like it's some homemade or specialty bread. In any case, I think charging for bread in general is bad form (much like Mexican sitdowns that charge for tortilla chips). But charging $1.50 for it just looks like bizarre penny-pinching on the part of the restaurant. Now, I believe that they sell it as part of a "Tapas" menu for $2.

        20 Replies
        1. re: cookieshoes

          I like SRB. Good food, nice ambience but that said 1.) Josh is right -- it is an excellent neighborhood place. I happen to live in the neighborhood and so I love Searocket. But as a destination, I might feel let down. 2.) Cookieshoes is right -- I too sense a bit of penny pinching going on, especially with the bread thing (from Cardamon Bakery next door).

          If you have a coupon and want to walk around North Park afterwards SRB is a good call. Might want to time it with a Ray at Night or Southpark Walkabout or on a Thursday night when they do movies at the communal table...

          1. re: cookieshoes

            Let's see...the expectation is that bread should be free? Bread that is not made in house? you expect the proprietor to supply you with bread at no charge even though s/he had to pay the bakery for it? IOWs you're asking the restaurant to take a loss on the bread to provide you with something for free? Sounds like bad economics to me.

            Let's say SRB goes through 10 loaves of bread a day. Let's say those loaves are $2.50 each. That's a $25 daily expense for which no income is received. SRB is open 7 days a week, so that loss grows to $175 a week and $9,100 a year. No restaurant can sustain a $9,000 a year loss on a single item and stay in business. IIRC, with the exception of the lobster dish, nothing on the SRB menu is over $20 and most of it is $17 or lower. Unless the cost of free bread was built into these prices, or they're making it in house, free bread isn't a fiscally wise decision.

            1. re: DiningDiva

              Please check all that apply:

              bread, housemade: $1.50
              bread, premium Cardamon fig, $2.00
              water, 1 glass: 25¢
              ice, 1 glass: 25¢
              after dinner mint: 10¢
              candle: 50¢ (patrons may take any unused candle portion with them)

              rental charges are for the first 60 minutes
              fork rental: 50¢
              spoon rental: 50¢
              knife rental: 50¢
              steak knife: 50¢
              premium steak knife: $1.00
              table rental: $4.00
              tablecloth rental: 50¢
              clean tablecloth rental: $1.00

              1. re: DiningDiva

                Com'on Diva, you're in the food bus, bread isn't free, in fact nothing is free. A smart restaurantier should have items like bread embedded in the price of the entree. If not, they're going to be toast!

                1. re: cstr

                  That was my point exactly. Bread *isn't* free. Unfortunately, we've all been trained to believe that it's something we're entitled to in the price of our meal. Depending on how the operator setup his/her opening budget and how they've costed their menu the bread may or may not be an included cost.

                  I understand the point the OP was making, but it was more the idea or concept that as diners we've assumed we're entitled to bread free with the meal. None of us know how SRB costed their menu and if it was originally an included cost or not. I'm old enough to remember when restaurants used to charge for tap water, which was pretty off-putting. Now, they just make you ask.

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    I agree and I like your description 'entitled' , the 'baseline expectation' for us American diners is that we 'must' be served certain accompaniments with our entree's and if we don't get them then the est. is considered cheap or inferior. Example; I remember being at a popular seafood shack where the est. charged for tartar sauce, a very unusual circumstance, the customer base was so outraged they dropped the policy, then later embedded the cost in the entree, problem solved. Then again I was at a BBQ shack, the sauce was an extra cost, not an issue. I also remember when H2O was not free.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      DD, I agree with you along with my free chips and salsa! From one who used to be in food bus in SF, I think you would find this restaurant blog about the diners entertaining, especially regarding free bread:


                  2. re: DiningDiva

                    The cost of bread is worked into the food price. We had to ask for bread to go with the bowl of clams. It came in a broth, and bread should have been included.

                    1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                      Did the menu state that bread came with the clams? If it didn't, how do you know it was worked into the price. Was not including it just an oversight by the kitchen? If it was then, yes, the bread was probably factored into the price of the dish and someone in the kitchen just messed up. If it wasn't an oversight, how do you know it was factored in? Now, I happen to agree with you...bread is quite a logical inclusion with a bowl of clams since the broth that ends up in the bottom of the bowl is usally pretty savory.

                      My point isn't so much about a dish in which bread is an ingredient so much as it is our expectation that a gratis bread basket hit the table shortly after we're seated and drinks are served. It's this whole concept of "free" that I object to. TANSTAAFL.

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        It is really not gratis, I do not expect a whole loaf, I am not a glutton, but all of the items in the meal have a price point built into them and I think a group of 4 people, according to your logic that bread would prices out at about 50 - 75 per person. If they purchase in bulk, Iam sure they would be paying less than 250 a loaf.

                        What is TANSTAAFL?

                          1. re: Josh

                            Thanks. Not looking for a free lunch however, charge 17 for the entry and no one is wiser.

                          2. re: normalheightsfoodie

                            I'm not talking about a whole loaf. Depending upon the bread used and how many pieces per diner the restaurant is planning for, a restaurant is probalby getting 4-6 servings per baguette, fewer for smaller loaves, more for larger. I buy bread commerical every day, it's just not that cheap and if a restaurant is buying from a specialty purveyor my estimate of $2.50 per loave may actually be low. 4 servings per loaves is around $.65. Realistically, it probably costs a restaurant about $.50 per diner for a bread basket. Even if no one touches the bread and none of it is eaten, it can not be reused. It must be discarded.

                            I spend a lot of time watching service staff when I dine out. I am always appalled by the amount of bread and butter that is tossed into bus tubs. That is money going straight into the garbage. I'd rather not have bread gratis if it prevents waste.

                            1. re: DiningDiva

                              This makes me think, you almost never see bread served in a Chinese restaurant, I never hear any complaints about them.

                              1. re: cstr

                                True, but that's a difference in cuisine, since bread isn't typically served with the vast majority of Chinese meat+rice dishes.

                                What IS served at most every Chinese restaurant is a pot of tea, which is typically given out free with every table that sits down, and refilled for free. And if you were to go to a Chinese restaurant that didn't offer free tea you would most likely say "Hmmm, none of the other places charge me for tea".

                                The reason I don't buy into the "bread costs money" angle is because we are not a society living in a depression. Everything costs money. When there is a water shortage, we all cut back. When it's power, we deal with the blackouts.

                                But there is no shortage of bread in this town, or anywhere in the US. And, like it or not, getting free bread at most sit-down restaurants in the US is as common as getting napkins on the table. So, when restaurants don't offer it, it sticks out.

                                But the thing is, even if the place is a restaurant that doesn't give out bread for free, that's not really a big deal. Because in my experience those places usually make a point of making it a very unique or artisan bread, and have a price point that goes with it. So, at least the customer understands the reason for the charge.

                                The bread at Sea Rocket is not specialty or of any unique/high quality. It's a basic ciabbatta white bread, which they serve sliced into four thin fingers. It's not even toasted. The same bread at Vons will cost you 50 cents for an entire roll three times the size. If Sea Rocket is getting it next door from Cardamom, than that's all the more reason why it should be free, since there are none of the delivery charges to get the bread to the restaurant.

                                In any case, what struck me most was not so much that the bread wasn't free, but that they charged such a meaningless price for it. $1.50?? Now it's $2. Gimme a break. That just looks bad for them. I'm going to spend $100 in this place to have a good meal, and you are going to charge me the equivalent of a pithy "service charge" for a tiny amount of what's essentially a pre-meal GARNISH? How much are extra napkins? $.65? I dropped my fork, so is that $.25 for a new one, so they can offset the amount of detergent used to clean the flatware? How about when I ask them to hold the avocado on a dish, since I'm allergic. Do I get a $1 rebate on the price? Why bother even painting the walls or decorating the place, that costs money too. Turns the lights off in the daytime while you're at it. It's penny-pinching, on a ridiculous level. I'd rather the bread cost $4 and at least be good bread in a decent quantity.

                                Because if we could just use the rationale of "nothing is free", then restaurants shouldn't be charging me 4-6 times the price for a Coke, I should be getting charged for water + extra for ice, and I shouldn't ever be having to tip a server for doing the job that the restaurant is already paying them to do.

                                1. re: cookieshoes

                                  "and I shouldn't ever be having to tip a server for doing the job that the restaurant is already paying them to do."

                                  Ah, but restaurants aren't paying your server to do a job, they're independent contractors. YOU are paying them. Your tips ARE they're salary.

                                  1. re: cookieshoes

                                    Wow, I'm stumped by all the excitement over a two dollar charge for bread. All restaurants charge for bread - most spread the cost among all diners who buy entrees, whether or not they want or eat bread. See the guy in the corner eating his fifth basket of bread? The girl at the next table that didn't have any bread is paying for his bread.
                                    Restaurants that charge for bread are simply assigning the cost of bread to those who choose to have it.

                                    1. re: cstr

                                      Obviously, you've never eaten Chinese food in Columbus, OH. I'll never forget getting 4 slices of regular white bread alongside my order of combination noodles back about 1971. Even then, I think I laughed out loud.

                        1. They sometimes grill up sardines at little italy farmers market.


                          I have heard that their idea is great but execution holds them back from being great.

                          1. DD- You are such a capitalist! I love it! I had no idea! Hard nosed accounting from the zodiac food queen. ......;)

                            Thank you all for the responses. We will eat there another time. We wound up at Urban Solace last night, where we had a mediocre experience. I'll post about it on an US thread.