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Leary love: Canteen and House of Shields

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My love of all things Leary has been documented by me ad nauseum, and he did not disappoint this Thursday evening. After a refreshing amuse of beet and fresh horseradish, the ever-lovely brioche and a glass of a Carneros ’09 pinot gris for the SO (sorry, can’t read my note about the actual winery), the plates started arriving. The SO in a (vain) attempt not to overeat opted for two appetizers, the watercress salad with gorgonzola and the vitello tonnato. The salad was light and fresh, and not at all overdressed. We never seem to get watercress this perfect at home in Vancouver, sadly. The vitello tonnato was spot on for the SO, with an egg salady concoction of shaved celery heart, endive and croutons that stood up to the intense flavour of the tuna. I cannot abide cooked tuna in any capacity so can’t provide any useful feedback. He thought they might have bumped up the portion size even though he declined the server’s kind offer to make it as a main so he was plenty full after these two dishes.

I started with the yellowtail ceviche with housemade potato chips, fennelseed oil and masses of perfect avocado. I was a bit leery (ignore that pun, please) of the oil as I am not a great fan of licorice flavouring but it worked really well with the dish, as did the chips. More please. My main was lamb loin with garbanzo pilaf and a spicy pepper vinaigrette. I am still working on learning to love lamb and this was a great dish for that. Very mild, not gamy at all (perhaps it was real spring lamb) and of course incredibly tender. The pilaf was also outstanding, very hearty with green wheat and fresh garbanzos abounding. I did avoid some of the red pepper in the vinaigrette but only because I’m not a big fan. We finished up with the ever-delectable vanilla soufflé to share before toddling over to the House of Shields for a nightcap.

The voyage there was marred by an incredibly aggressive female street person who was harassing another Muni patron and then turned her attention to the SO. Bleh. Once safely arrived, the SO unwound with his $5 Mirror Pond Ale on tap and I was very pleased with the Sidecar they put together using house margarita mix for $10. The interior is lovely here, with everything preserved but cleaned up – a spiffy restoration rather than renovation. Too dark for pix alas and a bit loud for these aging ears so would come again for a before-dinner drink instead as I note they conveniently open weekdays at 2 pm. There was a private party upstairs for SFMOMA that night and the SO noted that the Sentinel kitchen was open – a little catering for the event, perhaps?

Links to other reports for this trip: Coffee talk: Blue Bottle x2, Stella’s, Bicycle, Jane, Grand Prix, Ma*velous, Creamery, Sightglass plus beans http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784422
Double shot of pie: Pizzeria Delfina (Filmore) and Bao Necci/Danilo’s http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784423
Oakland adventure: Grand Lake FM, BC Deli, St. George’s/Hangar One http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784432
Burger (and beer) bonanza: Bix, Marlowe, Rosamunde/Toronado; random final day bites (post 5 of 6) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784437
Things Asian, a cocktail, and OTG: Z&Y, Shanghai House, Shanghai Dumpling King, BC Deli, Olive, Lers Ros, Sankaku http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/784434

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Canteen
817 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

House of Shields Saloon
39 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA

 
 
 
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  1. glad you liked House of Shields. I think "restoration rather than renovation" describes it perfectly. I hope they'll start some minimal food program there, or at least keep Sentinel open so you can bring food over. that would be a draw.