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Boxing Room, Hayes Valley [San Francisco]

m
mdg Aug 25, 2011 09:58 PM

I tried the Boxing Room in Hayes Valley, San Francisco tonight. As a solo diner I only tried two dishes and the results were mixed. The hushpuppies were disappointing. There was not much flavor unless you added the pepper jelly, and salt seemed entirely absent. They were also too big, with one of them way undercooked in the middle. Fortunately the duck and sausage jambalaya was much better. Salt was still MIA for the duck leg but fine in the jambalaya. The soulful taste of the jambalaya went nicely with the duck leg and its crispy skin.

There's a great draft beer list, from which I had an Abita Amber - certainly the first time I've had it on draft in San Francisco, maybe even counting New Orleans too.

Fortunately they bring salt and pepper shakers to you, along with hot sauce, but it's not the same thing as cooking the dish properly in the first place. Who goes to a New Orleans-style restaurant for salt-free dining?

Anybody else try it yet? What else is good and what else is skippable?

Michael

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Boxing Room
399 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

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  1. Windy RE: mdg Aug 25, 2011 10:53 PM

    It's Jonathan Kauffman's review this week:
    http://www.sfweekly.com/2011-08-24/re...

    Do they have cocktails too?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Windy
      r
      rln RE: Windy Sep 22, 2011 10:28 PM

      No cocktails when I went probably a month or so ago. We thought this strange but maybe they don't want to compete with Absinthe? Seems that the place and menu calls for mint juleps or something!

    2. s
      Sharon S. RE: mdg Aug 26, 2011 04:18 PM

      I went to Boxing Room for lunch this week with a party of 6 and there was only one other table of two there the whole time. The food is good, but you can really go off your diet here majorly (I had the fried oyster po' boy and beignets). I tried the gumbo which was good. I did not like the boiled cajun peanuts. They have great (Sightglass) coffee. I didn't really get the hushpuppies either - but the jalapeno pepper jelly really helped. I am hoping that the serve will pick up as I cannot do 1 1/2 hour lunches and I hope that add some kind of lunch special as I cannot spend $14 on a sandwhich too often. A good special ocassion lunch I guess. The design is beautiful and they play great music.

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      Boxing Room
      399 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      3 Replies
      1. re: Sharon S.
        t
        Thomas Nash RE: Sharon S. Sep 2, 2011 08:58 PM

        We need to try this place as it looks promising.

        But boiled peanuts are one of the most disgusting creations of humanity. There is no way they can be good. A good example of something authentic (you see boiled peanuts in every rural corner grocery in Louisiana, next to the delicious boudins) that is awful. There is so much good food in that area that one need not bother with this slimy item.

        We had an oyster po' boy at Queen's La Po' Boys on San Bruno along with a couple of bottles of Abita Amber the other day, and it was really nice, fried but light, could have been in Louisiana.

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        Queen's Louisiana Po-Boy Cafe
        3030 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA

        1. re: Thomas Nash
          t
          Thomas Nash RE: Thomas Nash Sep 15, 2011 10:15 PM

          Did try Boxing Room tonight and it was quite excellent. The crawfish etouffée was very nice, as good as many I have had in the NOLA area and better than quite a few. The small size for $13 was quite generous. An off-menu tonight was cochon au lait, also very very nice. Comes with two sides, which were set under the suckling pig. My wife chose greens (she is a southern lady and likes her greens) and green tomato succotash, and was very pleased by both.

          The po'boys looked phenomenal, huge and dangerous, appropriately so. They range from oysters at $18 down through shrimp and catfish, the latter at $13, I think. There are different specials every night. Tonight's was a duck jambalaya with a confit leg on top of the rice. Looked good.

          Also off menu tonight were boiled crawfish for $10/lb including corn and potatoes. That's a reasonable 2X the going price in Lousiana (when expensive) given how far the crawfish have to come (actually they probably come from China...). It is considerably cheaper than many Asian-Cajun places are charging in the Bay Area.

          I have a real problem with the price of oysters around here. Even after Katrina, raw oysters didn't get to even as high as $1 each in most places in Louisiana -- and Drago's was charging only about $14/dozen for their incredible BBQ oysters. So, it is disappointing that the Boxing Room raw oysters are all West Coast and start (!) at $2.50 each. The grilled ones, which looked OK, are 3 for $9. Oysters just taste better when you aren't thinking about how expensive they are.

          Beer is cheap with many varieties on draft.

          We did not order the boiled peanuts... (for reason, see previous post...) Desserts also appear to be forgettable, unfortunately.

          All in all, a very nice addition to the city.

          Oh, and our waiter was really from New Orleans, with an appropriate uptown accent and a full knowledge of all the good NOLA places.

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          Boxing Room
          399 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

          1. re: Thomas Nash
            m
            mdg RE: Thomas Nash Sep 15, 2011 10:20 PM

            Thanks for the report! Looks like there are some more good dishes to try here.

            Michael

      2. f
        Fine RE: mdg Sep 2, 2011 05:37 PM

        "Who goes to a NO-style restaurant for salt-free dining?" It clearly was low- rather than no-salt, and nutrition and medical authorities strongly urge anyone over-50 to consume no more than 1500 mg/day.

        You'd be diminishing the dining population considerably if you subtracted even some of that demographic!

        One person's insufficiently salted meal is another's night of drinking quarts of water.

        1. s
          sugartoof RE: mdg Sep 16, 2011 01:24 AM

          Really excited to try this place, as well as Criolla Kitchen in the Bagdad Cafe space.

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          Criolla Kitchen
          2295 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

          3 Replies
          1. re: sugartoof
            t
            Thomas Nash RE: sugartoof Sep 16, 2011 09:53 AM

            I don't recommend Criolla Kitchen. I thought I posted after an unfortunate meal there, but apparently I didn't. The shrimp gumbo was awful, in a terrible tomato sauce, with overcooked shrimp to boot. It brought back memories of backpacking trips eating freeze-dried "shrimp creole". Other dish we had (a stuffed mirliton, if I remember correctly) was also terrible. They didn't have the BBQ the night we were there. The pecan pie was also forgettable.

            We keep passing this place, thinking maybe it was an off-night, but I can never get myself to go in.

            I really don't understand how Jon Kauffman can mention this place in the same story as Boxing Room. They are really not in the same league.

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            Criolla Kitchen
            2295 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

            Boxing Room
            399 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

            1. re: Thomas Nash
              s
              sugartoof RE: Thomas Nash Sep 16, 2011 10:07 AM

              It's probably more so that they're both new, and Louisiana style.

              I was curious about their chicken and waffles, but that review doesn't sound encouraging at all.

              1. re: sugartoof
                t
                Thomas Nash RE: sugartoof Sep 16, 2011 11:38 AM

                Admittedly we did not try Criolla's fried offerings. Would try the chicken and the po boy and maybe the BBQ if I ever can get myself to walk in that door again.

                Not sure we need their BBQ, which has a promising provenance in Oakland, given Sneaky's and Memphis Minnie in the area.

          2. m
            mrs bacon RE: mdg Sep 16, 2011 10:25 AM

            Went here pre-opera the other night and had a very nice meal. We started with the boudin balls, which are like arancini made with dirty rice. Tasty little guys. I had an oyster dish as an appetizer which was kind of like Oysters Rockefeller without the spinach. Good, though a bit pricy at $9.00 for three oysters. Mrs. Mrs. Bacon had a fried oyster and greens salad and enjoyed it. For mains, the Mrs. had the crawfish etouffee and I tried the fried chicken served with mashed potatoes, a porky gravy, and corn in a tomato sauce with little bits of baconish items. We really liked the crawfish dish; the tomato sauce had a really nice depth of flavor. At first I found the breading on my chicken a bit ponderous, but after a few bites and a sprinkling of Crystal hot sauce (which they serve at the table with the label removed) I really warmed up to the chicken. Both sides were also delicious. We finished the meal with decent beignets and nice Sightglass drip coffee. Will definitely return.

            1. a
              absc RE: mdg Sep 16, 2011 05:46 PM

              People that I trust have really liked this place but I did not. It was good, but not as good as I had hoped. The fried chicken was average. The gumbo was very much the highlight.

              1 Reply
              1. re: absc
                m
                mdg RE: absc Sep 16, 2011 09:16 PM

                Thanks for the report! Based on my experience, yours, and others I see here, I'm going to stay away from the fried food. It seems the source of most of the food dissatisfaction. There are plenty of other menu choices that seem like better bets.

                Michael

              2. Melanie Wong RE: mdg Feb 19, 2013 05:53 PM

                Recent updates on Boxing Room? Especially for lunch . . . oysters are $1 until 4:30pm.
                http://www.boxingroom.com/menus.php

                2 Replies
                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  r
                  rubadubgdub RE: Melanie Wong Feb 20, 2013 09:53 AM

                  We were there most recently for Fat Tues. Food was excellent. The boiled peanuts are very tasty, although the texture is an acquired taste. Catfish poboy was on the small side but the fish and hush puppies were expertly fried and greaseless. Jambalaya is the best rendition I've had; the rice was not overcooked mush. The crawfish boil was not as spicy as I prefer but all the components were perfectly cooked. My sister and I were a little upset with the service when we learned that other tables were offered an extra pound for $9 but not us. Beignets for dessert were not as good as Cafe du Monde but espresso cream for dipping was killer. Someone is paying attention in the kitchen and it shows.

                  1. re: rubadubgdub
                    Melanie Wong RE: rubadubgdub Feb 27, 2013 06:50 PM

                    Thanks for the update. Glad to hear the fried items seem to be back on track. We were happy with our lunch. I want to get the boudin balls next time.

                     
                     
                2. Melanie Wong RE: mdg Feb 27, 2013 06:46 PM

                  Enjoyed it for lunch with Mom last week. Good service, solid food, but I am not in love with the place.

                  Best bite was complimentary pimento cheese served with housemade crackers. I asked for the crackers to be wrapped up to take home and my lovely server popped some more of the pimento cheese in there to boot.
                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                  Also the $1 oysters were great. One kind priced at a buck each day before 4:30pm. This time I had Hama Hama's from WA state. I was a little leery about ordering them on a Thursday, as I've been stuck with less than fresh ones elsewhere on promotion. No worries here. The mignonette is crazy spicy from long steeping of whole peppercorns in champagne vinegar with a little bit of shallot. I liked the cocktail sauce but would eat it with something else besides oysters. Once again, lemon was my condiment of choice, but it was nice to have a choice here. I'd come back again for oysters.
                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                  My chicken and andouille gumbo was pretty good, ordered the small size for $10 with brown rice. Textures were very good, especially the chicken, and the okra still had some snap. I appreciated the simple fact that the gumbo had okra in it, as many around here do not. Stock could have been richer, and once again, I felt like there was an overload of black pepper.
                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                  Mom went for the daily lunch special, $15, described to us as a bavette steak with a side salad. Actually it's more like a sliced steak on top of a salad, as shown here. The steak had a tasty marinade (featuring a lot of black pepper) and was cooked rare as ordered. I had asked if it would be served sliced across the grain, and when I learned that it was, I requested that it be sliced as thin as possible. So it might look a little different another day. The salad greens were impeccable, dressed lightly with a tart vinaigrette (and a healthy dose of black pepper).
                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                  And the lunch special came with a very nice fudgy brownie.
                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    The Dive RE: Melanie Wong Feb 28, 2013 02:17 PM

                    I agree with you about the condiments with the oysters - too strong for the delicate guys (although I used the excellent cocktail sauce on some larger specimens with some success). Also, really like the comp pimento cheese and crackers and the boiled peanuts (I am sucker for both of those things). And a great beer list. Overall, it was a good stop for us in between Smugglers Cove and heading over to the Mission for more beer.

                    1. re: The Dive
                      Melanie Wong RE: The Dive Feb 28, 2013 11:53 PM

                      Heheh, I was wishing for some nice prawns to use that cocktail sauce. The pimento cheese is pretty much the say I make mine, so of course I like Boxing Room's version. :)

                  2. Melanie Wong RE: mdg Mar 5, 2014 01:13 AM

                    Mom and I were back at Boxing Room for a late lunch yesterday for Mardi Gras. Apparently no lunch special anymore. But I took advantage of happy hour pricing to get an Abita amber on tap, $4, and a dozen Marin Miyagi oysters on the half shell at a buck apiece. The mignonette's Tabasco-flavored. Once more, the pimento cheese + housemade crackers and the oysters were the best part of our lunch.
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                    Fried gator, $13, is served with a spicy remoulade. Somewhat undersalted, but a dunk in the sauce fixed that. The battered and fried lemon slices included turned out to be only enjoyable part of this dish. The alligator itself was tough, chewy, gristly, and bland though covered with a nice breading and a scatter of chives.
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                    One of the day's specials was butternut squash soup, $6/cup. Not really a liquid, this was more like a fluffed up puree that I sampled readily using a fork. Yet, this was not just a generic butternut soup. Rather, it had a nuanced spicing in the background and a rich caramelized depth.
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                    My cup of duck and sausage jambalaya, $10, had just a few bits of sausage. I could see shreds of duck but did not find much of its flavor. The short grain rice was cooked to a satisfying bite and flecked with sweetly fresh vegetables. Again, this seemed undersalted and reeked of black pepper. It looked better than it tasted.
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                    The other highlight was the King cake, $7. The generous wedge, decorated with pistachio-green sugar and served with sweetened pineapple had a bouncy sponge cake texture. The pastry cream filling was quite good.
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                    Service again was very good and it was fun to get our Mardi Gras beads. Yet, at $69 for two, including tax, tip and Healthy SF surcharge, food is too uneven. I'll need to take my own advice next time and stick to happy hour oysters.

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