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Very nice dinner at 1550 Hyde

Juniper May 22, 2010 10:25 PM

Man, is it ever hard to find parking around there. Despite that we still managed to arrive early for our 8:45PM reservation. They seated us almost right away even though we were early.

The menu was suitably short, but I was a little confused since I thought the place featured local and organic produce and there was a beet salad on the menu (not sure about the growing seasons here, but I always though beets were in season in the fall and winter?) as well as an arugula salad (again, in Canada it's a summer and fall thing but I'm not sure if the growing seasons differ here?).

We ordered the grilled chicken livers and the arugula salad to start. The arugula was a bit tough but peppery and complemented nicely the sweetness of the carrots and tanginess of the cheese in the salad. The cucumber in the salad seemed a bit extraneous to the whole thing, but harmless overall. The dressing was supposedly a lemon cumin vinaigrette, but those flavours were practically indetectable. Overall, it was an okay salad but nothing particularly remarkable.

The chicken livers were fantastic. They were grilled to rare and paired with currants and scallions. Very tender, no grittiness, and the flavours combined very nicely. I really enjoyed these.

As mains, my dining partner had the braised Kobe brisket, which was served with polenta and spinach. The beef was very tender and flavourful -- my partner is a carnivore so he very much enjoyed this dish.

I had the pork chop, served with white bean puree and grilled asparagus, zucchini and red onions. The pork was flavourful but I would have prefered it just slightly on the medium side, while what they served was more well done so it was not as tender as it could have been. The rest of the meal was good -- perfectly seasoned and well executed.

For dessert, my partner had the meyer lemon tart, which really brought out the delicate floral and citrus of the meyer lemons. The crust was nice and buttery and short. I had the pot de creme au chocolate and that was very rich and it was a good bittersweet balance.

As far as ambience, the tables are a touch close and the room itself has poor acoustics so it gets fairly loud in the space. We didn't have to yell to converse, but it was noticeable loud. I wouldn't say it's necessarily an ideal place for a romantic date as a result.

Price-wise we thought it was very reasonable for what we got.

Probably the biggest complaint we had was the selection of wines. I chose a flight of three Italian wines and my partner had two glasses of different wines. Of these 5 wines we had, they were all below par (no structure, no bouquet, no distinct flavours, and either no or bad finish) and did not hold up to the food very well. Not sure if they have a BYOW program, but I would highly recommend choosing your own wine and paying the corkage.

Overall, however, we enjoyed the experience.

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1550 Hyde
1550 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

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  1. Ruth Lafler May 23, 2010 09:44 AM

    Thanks for the report. Yes, in milder climates arugula is a spring crop -- I remember being in Italy in May and have the most amazing sparkling fresh arugula. Actually, I think like many greens you can grow arugula year round in a mild climate like ours. Same with beets: since the ground doesn't freeze here, you can plant and harvest them year round.

    http://www.garden.org/regional/report...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler
      susancinsf May 23, 2010 11:19 AM

      Indeed, I got both beets and arugula (which, as OP describes, was a bit tough, but peppery) in my CSA box this week, which is composed entirely of local, organic crops grown here in Merced/Atwater (120 or so miles from San Francisco). Combined, they made a very nice salad.

      I loved my one visit to 1550 Hyde, and I remember appreciating the wine by the glass selection, although I can't remember specific wines at this point. I do remember that our server was very helpful in making wine by the glass selections. I still dream of the grilled sardines I had as a starter there. Would go back in a heartbeat (and wouldn't bother with bringing a bottle, though I do agree that parking is a hassle in that neighborhood).

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      1550 Hyde
      1550 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      1. re: susancinsf
        Juniper May 23, 2010 11:50 AM

        Sigh... I'm so jealous of the climate here. When we were roaming around the Frog's Leap estate we were so excited to see olive trees, fig trees, orange trees, and other things that simply wouldn't grow in Canada.

        Grilled sardines.... yum! Those weren't on the menu on Friday. I love grilled sardines and I would have been eager to try them there.

        Sounds like you had better luck with the wine list. They may have changed the wine list since you were there; the wine list on their website is definitely different from what was presented to us on Friday and sadly, our experience with the wines there was simply disappointing.

        1. re: Juniper
          rworange May 23, 2010 02:00 PM

          Beets are root veggies and even if they weren't in season they are a popular veggie in so many countries because they store well.

          There is a parking lot about a block away, but one of the reasons I suggest it so often to tourists (besides liking it a lot) is the cable car stops right in front. It is sort of a cool way to get there from your hotel.

          The wine list like the menu is ever-changing. I was one of their first customers when they opened maybe six or seven years ago and it was love at first bite for me, so I have been there more than that parking situation warrents. What can I say. I cheap out on some things and drive and drive around till I give up and park at the garage.

          I don't know enough about wine to have my opinion really matter here, but I have always been happy with whatever it was they suggested. Their whole philosophy is to make wine affordable and accessible and they've won a few awards for their wines.

          So, hoping that something hasn't changedd recently, I really don't think bringing your own bottle is anything necessary and people can always call and have them email the current list to them.

          When I first started going, It was about once a month and each time the flights were different. Somehow I have it in my head that they change weekly, but I can't really say for sure. They are more focused on being a neighborhood place, so the menu and wine list gets changed often enough not to be boring to regulars.

          I'm surprised you liked it, Susan, since I would think the tables might be too close together for your comfort. I do wish that over the years they had done more to mute the hard surfaces (they did a little after opening). However, I eat early so it is not crowded and in nice weather there are outdoor tables.

          Thanks for the update.

          1. re: rworange
            susancinsf May 23, 2010 02:45 PM

            It's true that tables are close together, and it was noisy. However, my dining companion and I got one of the better tables; it was not one of the tight banquettes against the wall...I think I may (?) have requested a well-spaced table when making the reservation, on OT but I can't recall for certain.

            In any case, I am more likely to tolerate closely spaced tables and noise when prices are reasonable (as I thought they were there) and the place is casual, but the food is really good. My bigger gripe is to spend a lot of money on dinner at a purportedly elegant place, and still have to listen to the conversation at the neighboring table and not being able to have my own conversation without it being overheard....In that regard, my dinner at 1550 Hyde wasn't a romantic one; I might have felt differently if it were :-)

            Good to know about the outside tables; we were there on a cold evening (and also drove around a while before giving up and parking in the lot).

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            1550 Hyde
            1550 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

            1. re: rworange
              Ruth Lafler May 23, 2010 06:22 PM

              Yes, beets have been grown to store for centuries. However, I buy my beets with the tops on, so I know they're fresh, not stored. At my local market it's usually cheaper to buy the beets with the greens on. Last time I bought them the beets with the tops were $2.49 a bunch and the loose beets were $2.49 lb. After I cut the tops off the beets at home, I weighed them and there was more than a pound, so I was ahead even if I hadn't used the greens, which of course I did. So I got about twice as many servings for the same price!

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