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Oct 19, 2009 05:44 PM

Review: Canteen

Went to up San Francisco a few weeks ago for an anniversary weekend. Been searching the boards these last few years for recs and have been to many that have been suggested here on Chowhound.

If you would like to see pictures and past restaurant visits, please feel free to take a look.

Thought I would post our review of Canteen.

Canteen, reminds me of a 60s diner in the South because of its retro decor, bar stools, vintage books, and its polished simplicity. It just has this unpretentious, homey and nostalgic feeling. And there are only 7 bar stools and 4 booths. Small, but quaint.

Two waitresses here run the show and they were so genuinely kind and down to earth. They served us the brioche rolls which were excellent! It tasted like a buttery croissant, without the flakiness.

For the amuse bouche, they brought out a small piece of smoked salmon with pepper over slices of honeydew. I was not very impressed by the presentation of it. It looked a bit sad. The smoked salmon had a nice flavor, but there was nothing here that excited my taste buds or amused my "bouche".

Lamb's Tongue Vinaigrette with butter beans and romesco (10.50
)The vinaigrette went well because it added another flavor dimension to it. I don't usually like beans, but it was well-cooked and smooth in texture. I loved the nutty, romesco sauce which consisted of red peppers, pistachio, parsley and "other stuff" say the waitress. The tongue itself had a rillette texture in a way and enjoyed the light and bright flavors of the lamb. It was a great way to start the meal.

Albacore with lobster sauce, eggplant puree, and peppers (23.50)
The seared albacore was cooked perfectly and was moist and tender. The dish was carefully prepared, and the buttery lobster sauce and puree tasted good on their own, but when I put it all together, the flavors just did not meld too well. It was sort of a "musky" taste. Plus, it was a bit overpowering for the delicately mild-flavored fish.

Pork Schnitzel with a poached egg (25)
We went with one of the waitress' favorite dish on this menu. Pork schnitzel is thinly pounded breaded pork cutlets and was topped with fresh arugula, poached eggs, arugula and paprika sauce. It was good dish with intense flavorings, but I expected more out of it.

We were served with the "Week 190" seasonal menu. But one of the timeless items that doesn't change is the "Vanilla Souffle since 2004" (8.50). They brought out the souffle and pierced it through with some kind of cream sauce. And since my husband had told them we were celebrating our anniversary when he made reservations, they brought out 2 complimentary glasses of champagne. What a special touch!

The great thing about seasonal menus is that you get to taste the chef's inventive creations using seasonal ingredients and artistic talent. So I will probably return one day. Plus, I also have read that they serve really good brunch, so I'll try that out too.

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  1. Nice report, Tony.

    I also appreciate you copied the review instead of just linking to your blog. Nice photos.

    817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    1. Eh, meant to add a link

      817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      1. Thanks for the compliment on the pictures. Sorry I didn't link to the restaurant.

        1. Wow, has it really been 190 weeks? I remember when Canteen opened; it used to be a weekly breakfast spot for me and a gal pal. Good times!

          Definitely go back for brunch some time. Get the pancake if you like a sweet breakfast, whatever hash they have that day if you like savory (usually it's corned beef or fish). Don't forget a cup of gingery homemade chai.

          Thanks for a great post!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pei

            Pei - I have heard a lot of great things about the brunch. Will definitely make it a priority on my next visit to SF and try the Chai and pancake or hash.