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Sep 7, 2012 11:46 PM

Park Tavern--The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good:
it's lively and somewhat fun.

The bad: I could go on and on.....

For starters, the food is horrendous, the service is some of the worst in the city. After dining here twice I can tell you that they build "get drinks at the bar time" into your reservation time to make more $$$ bc they can tell their place is going to crash and burn in 15 months without the food cred. Park Tavern tries to be a "trendy San Francisco place" but is actually pretentious and AWFUL.
The deviled eggs were obviously made hours and hours and hours ago.
The crab dip was cold and bland and heavy on the mayo, light on the crab
Ummm...I flippin' KNOW what truffles taste like and the shaved bottom of a sneaker you put on that plate is not truffle.

The ugly:
This place is for lazy tourists who don't want to do their research. Dining surrounded by tables filled with aging frat boys and their obvious paid escorts is entertaining for a drink and app but not for a $250 dinner.

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  1. I'll second your assessment of the food. It's one of the biggest hype jobs the city has seen in many years. It's easy to see through a menu that borrows so blatantly from food trends and signature dishes of other establishments, without putting their own stamp on it, and figure out they don't think their patrons are very savvy foodwise, or designwise, or well, really at all.

    Of the few good dishes which they can actually execute, the Marlow Burger is the safe thing to order there. It's not the best burger in the city, but it's very good.

    9 Replies
    1. re: sugartoof

      What signature dishes have they lifted from other places?

      1. re: hyperbowler

        Gosh HB they all sound familiar with the same ingredients everyone else uses.

        1. re: wolfe

          Exactly, that's why I was asking--- I realize they're following trends, but I was wondering what specific innovations/signature dishes rather than generalities they were copying. Deviled eggs are part of the gourmet comfort food trend, their "smoked" menu is following the prevalence of bacon and pimenton you see everywhere, green goddess dip is a classic SF item that's had a resurgence, brussels sprouts and green chips of some sort are popular (more in different months though), you can find plenty of demons/angels/devils on horseback in SF, gourmet burgers, etc.

          I went there about when it opened and enjoyed my meal, feeling it was a nice cross section of what's popular in SF. Everything at the time was seasonal. I'm a bit surprised to see, for example, non-seasonal crab and brussels sprouts still on the menu given how seasonal the rest of the menu is. The OP's allegation about old deviled eggs would be inexcusable from a kitchen standpoint--- it takes three seconds to pipe the filling out and toss on some garnish.

          1. re: hyperbowler

            " Deviled eggs are part of the gourmet comfort food trend,"

            That's the point. The majority of the menu is based on food trends, and has no individual identity. Maybe the typical diner doesn't recognize the influences, say like Spotted Pig's Deviled Eggs in NY, but it's glaringly obvious. When a dish gains popularity at a smaller venue (I'm thinking of one from Outerlands in particular) and it suddenly appears on Park Taverns' menu, then it's not a matter of a restaurant merely lacking creativity - though that too is an issue.

            1. re: sugartoof

              As a counterpoint to hyperbolic commentary and/or foodie " fantasy football" speculation from people who formulate conclusions by online menu-reading rather than actual dining:

              I'm neither a fraternity alum nor a lazy tourist (unlike, say, someone who shows up in Paris posting "Help! - where should I eat tonight?"), but I dined at Park Tavern last year when they first opened and then again in July and, based on those two visits, don't agree with a single word that was posted above. In my opinion, the bad about Park Tavern is that the "lively" atmosphere combined with all-too-typical acoustics creates a noise-level that can border on ear-spitting (and that's coming from someone who hits three music festivals each year). The rest of it was pretty good, in my opinion - I was seated at the time of my reservation, the service was fine on a busy night, nothing I tasted was remotely hours-old, over-dressed, or out-of-season, and their mixed seafood grill in uni nage was one of my favorite dishes in SF so far this year (...and I didn't spend my evening ruminating that I could have eaten at the Spotted Pig 2,000 miles away either). I paid for myself plus two others for a meal that included more delicious starters than our table could finish plus three entrees and an interesting bottle of reasonably priced wine - and our bill was under $200 including tip. And maybe my radar is off, but contrary to the original poster, I didn't spy any prostitutes in the house- nor hear any superfluous use of the word "flippin'" (which I would have found far more offensive).

              Its hardly my favorite restaurant in SF, but as a frequent visitor who usually stays in Telegraph Hill, I think Park Tavern is a nice addition to the neighborhood below and would recommend it to tourists and residents alike, lazy or not, who have a disposition that allows them to enjoy a well-executed meal for its own sake without deconstructing the culinary anthropology of the contemporary deviled egg.

              PS: As a better endorsement than my own: A neighborhood cop, who I chatted with one morning while having a coffee in Washington Square Park and who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of North Beach eateries, told me Park Tavern was his favorite NB restaurant and he'd even been interviewed on a local tv show saying as much.

              1. re: Omniverous

                Since the "fantasy football" comment maps onto my description of some of their dishes, let me clarify that I've eaten their versions of all those items I listed except for the green goddess dressing. If anything, we stuck to the trend items to see how they compared to other places in town, and enjoyed what we had.

                Re: seasonality, the local dungeness crab season ended months ago, so that ingredient may explain why the quality of the OP's dish wasn't great, not the chef's talent.

                I definitely agree that you would have to work hard to spend $250. With tax and tip, my first visit cost $192 for 4 people and we had a ton of different items.

                1. re: hyperbowler

                  " we stuck to the trend items to see how they compared to other places in town, and enjoyed what we had."

                  Good, but the point is, Park Tavern continues to revise it's menu to mimic other establishments. When Bottlecap revised their menu, Park Tavern curiously adopted a couple new dishes with potential. From the decor on down, the tendency to copycat is an attitude that shows in other aspects of the restaurants approach towards customers.

                  I did compliment one dish, mind you....I just think this place wins the hype job of the year.

                2. re: Omniverous

                  Totally agree with Omniverous here (about having had the opposite experience as the OP). I've only had great experiences at Park Tavern and would probably get there more often if it weren't in North Beach, which I tend to avoid because of the tourists and because it feels a bit out of the way for me.

                  There may be things on the menu that appear frequently on other menus in the city, but I like Park Tavern's versions and find the menu appealing overall, if not particularly mind-blowing or inventive.

                  Sorry that you had such a bad experience, tessari!

                  1. re: Omniverous

                    "formulate conclusions by online menu-reading rather than actual dining"

                    My conclusions were also based on actual dining.

                    Glad you enjoyed a meal and found someone to validate your opinions, but Park Tavern can't hold a candle to Coi, Cafe Jaqueline, or even Mama's. It's far from the best in the neighborhood, let alone the city. Our opinions differ, but you're entitled to yours.

        2. Folks, it's fine to disagree with each other about a restaurant, but please keep your comments focused on discussing the food, rather than getting into analyzing how other people have chosen to talk about the food. Rate chow -- not chowhounds.