Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jul 21, 2010 07:00 PM

Cafe des Amis [San Francisco]

I realize this just opened but I was wondering if anyone had tried it yet. I have seen people in there but I am not sure if it is officially open yet. I peeked in the window and it is beautiful so I am wondering if the food matches the decor

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Cafe des Amis. Pesky old keys.

    Cafe des Amis
    2000 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

    3 Replies
      1. re: wolfe

        wolfe, " Pesky old keys. " what does that mean?

        1. re: saffrongold

          In the original post the title was Cafe dea Amis. I was simply pointing out the proximity of the "a" to the "s" that sfgal corrected. I should have come back and deleted it but it was past my bedtime.

      2. Haven't tried it, but today's supposed to be the official opening.

        Cafe des Amis
        2000 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

        1. Had dinner there last night. As expected for a high-profile opening, it was a little bit of a zoo: The bar was completely packed from early on, Willie Brown stopped by, etc. I got a good impression of the place in many ways: The people behind Spruce obviously know how to run a restaurant and seem to have recruited a bunch of good people. They have ambitions to be open really late a few days a week and to serve weekend brunch, which is nice. The restaurant is a very stylish brasserie with prices within reason (most entrees in the $20-30 range). Should be a nice addition to the neighborhood. As for the food, it was opening day so the jury is still out. Of the 7-8 dishes I tasted, none was really outstanding and several were clearly underseasoned the way they came. The menu is fairly large with lots of dishes that could be great with the right execution, so I guess it will take a few more visits to reach a verdict. Comparing the food to first impressions from other recent openings, I would say not as good as Prospect or Wayfare, but not as disappointing as Thermidor.

          3 Replies
          1. re: nocharge

            We ate there the other day, in the 3rd week of their operation and surprisingly found it did not meet our expectations. Looks like they went from underseasoned to OVER!

            House made Epi Bread was dense, chewy, and excellent.

            Mojito ($11) was strong, well balanced, and very good.

            Foie Gras Terrine ($17) ramp and mustard seed marmalade, toasted brioche was stellar with a huge portion of super smooth foie.

            Oysters - Kumoomoto, Malpeque, Beausolei ($8) were fresh and solid. Hard to botch this. Very vinegary strong mignottete.

            Grilled Branzino Provencal ($27) fennel, tomato, garlic, olives, sauce verte was a very good entree with a good sized portion of well cooked deboned sea bass served in a healthy style. Not overly juicy and a tad bit of undercooking would have helped.

            Mussels ($16) tomato, white wine, garlic and lovage was another solid entree with lots of fresh mussels and an aioli covered toast. Very nice broth that deserves consuming with bread.

            Summer Pole Beans ($6) brown butter and almonds were thin beans cooked in a healty style without much butter or salt.

            Paperback Apple Pie Special ($8) was excellent and came in a paperbag. Crisp crust, tender apples, and a nice topping made for a good dessert.

            Soupe À L’Oignon Gratinee ($9) oxtail and beef shank broth, carmelized onions, gruyere was a very nice and very hot onion soup with a dense cheese crust but came with a big burnt spot that smelled like something was burning.

            Hanger Steak Frites ($26) béarnaise, watercress salad was cooked to a perfect medium rare but was slightly oversalted, even with the sauce on the side. This is not the most tender cut of meat around, so it was a bit chewy. Watercress salad was also a bit over salty. Fries were average, not spectacular.
            Bouchon's Steak Frites is better than this version.

            Petit Fours: Salted Chocolate Toffees were very bitter and salty.

            Roast Chicken Ballotine ($22) roasted potatoes, wilted purslane had a slightly salty chicken that was made super salty with the included sauce. We could not even finish this dish! Duck liver pate toast was fine. Excellent potatoes.

            Service - Cafe des Amis is relatively new but being operated by a veteran team, service was decent albeit a bit slow, with not much need for hailing waiters. The waiter could have been more knowledgeable on the dishes.

            Value - Prices while not inexpensive, are inline with an upscale French restaurant.

            Alternatives - Not many. Classic French brasseries in this area include excellent Bouchon in Yountville and Absinthe in San Francisco. Compare these to Josephine Chez Dumonet, an uncopiable classic Paris bistro we reviewed and lust for from our 2009 adventures.

            Verdict - Does Cafe des Amis live up to its hype? Frankly we expected much more from seasoned veterans and 3 years of waiting. There were a lot of misses and even the waiter admited that other waiters had klinkers that evening. Comparatively, Prospect and Wayfare Tavern recently opened and are excellent. Bouchon remains the best in our area.
            The atmosphere is spot on so give them a couple months to optimize things before trying it. If you must visit it now, becareful with your ordering.
            2% Healthy SF Surcharge. Extensive wine list with high markup, glasses from $8, Bottles from an inexpensive $16. Long beer, ale list and lots of classic cocktails.

            Pics and more:

            6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

            Cafe des Amis
            2000 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

            Wayfare Tavern
            558 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

            1. re: Foodnut8

              Michael Bauer wasn't impressed either. One star for food, 1.5 overall. Too many bland and tasteless dishes, apparently. A pretty bad outcome for such an anticipated opening. Even Lafitte managed to get a 1.5 star food rating in a negative review.

              1. re: nocharge

                Finally read review--what struck me also was how few dishes were remotely French.

                Live close by and it does appear to be doing a land-office business and Betelnut's waiter said its business has increased from the overflow..

                We really liked Godon's, so had somewhat higher than usual expectations for both quality of cooking and sustainability of ingredients, since Gordon Drysdale's name has been mentioned often in connection with CdA.

                2030 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

          2. I was there last night for dinner with two friends. Overall: Food was solid, service was badly marred by inattention and bad timing.

            The menu and feel remind me a lot of Balthazar in NY - very breezy, bistro-ish feel, down to the food (a greatest hits of bistro classics, including choucroute garni, monumental seafood platters, caviar service, etc.), menu formatting, decor (tile floors, big bar) and the stylish, chaotic feel.

            Food highlights were appetizers of stuffed zucchini flowers (briefly baked, not fried, with a surprisingly firm-yet-tender ricotta filling) and lobster salad (great hunks of sweet lobster, oh my) and the best main was the a special of the day, a line-caught bass on butter beans that was perfectly cooked - crisp skin with moist, incredibly flavorful meat. You could taste the wildness of the fish, simply fantastic.

            Our server was super-professional in her attitude and expertise-- when we could get her attention, that is. We sat for 15 minutes before she took our drink order, then it was another 15 minutes before the wine showed up. A half hour to wait for the first sip of the evening did not start the night auspiciously.

            At several points in the evening one of us had to flag her down again to get a refill on wine (she put the bottle chilling somewhere else), so people sat with empty glasses way too long....Plus there was a giant lull of about 20-25 minutes between our first course and the mains. I don't know if the'd given our server too many tables to cover--she tried hard not to seem harried but you could tell she was totally in the weeds. Funnily enough There were a slew guys in well-cut suits hanging out in the corners who looked like floor managers or maybe sommeliers with nothing to do, it was odd to see them milling around surveying the scene all night when it was clear the waitstaff was struggling to keep up.

            Anyway the kitchen seems to be dialing things in pretty well but they need to get more coverage of the tables and work out the service kinks, fast.

            Cafe des Amis
            2000 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

            1. Forgot to add the pics - lobster salad appetizer plus that fantastic line-caught bass....

              Cafe des Amis
              2000 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123