SF trip report from an OC Hound - AQ, Frances, Tartine, Knead and others
Just got back from an anniversary weekend in SF this past weekend and wanted to do write a report as a thanks for all the chowhound info.
Here is my original post:
In my initial post I was debating between Wayfare Tavern or Town Hall but ended up at Frances since it's been on my list for quite some time.
We didn't have reservation so the wait on a Friday night was about 40 minutes or so. If there was ever a neighborhood feel restaurant, Frances would have to be it.
Here are the dishes we had:
Baked Cherrystone Clams ($7) - lacinito kale, fennel, bacon, white corn - 3 clams on the half shell arrive on some coarse salt. The clams in this dish are chopped up in mixed with the other ingredients. Very nicely seasoned and great bites to start the meal.
Applewood Smoked Bacon Beignets ($7) - maple chive creme fraiche. - I am no beignet expert but these were great. Light and fluffy with a taste of bacon. I really enjoyed the maple chive creme fraiche. I thought this dish would be more flavor packed with the bacon but actually had mild but present bacon flavor and same for the maple in the creme fraiche.
Spugnole Pasta ($12) - Tomato Ragout, Fennel Braised Chicken, Castelvetrano Olives, Pecorino - Our favorite dish of the night. Loved the Tomato Raguot and the sweet and acidic flavors of the tomato. Pasta was an interesting morel / honeycomby shaped pasta. Delicious!!!
Smoked Tomato Soup ($10) - roasted lipstick pimento, bodega chevre crostini - The server arrived with some of the pimento (kind of like bell peppers), roasted tomatoes, and the chevre crostini in a bowl. The server then poured the tomato soup over all the ingredients in the bowl. Always nice to have a little presentation. A+ for presentation. I would have really loved this dish had it not been in my opinion over salted. My wife didn't mind it but was heavy handed for me.
Grilled Quail Tolenas Farm Quail ($26) - Sauteed Stone Fruit, White Corn, Purslane, Chaterelles - Individually the components in the dish intrigued me but the dish seemed a bit non cohesive. Didn't feel as the the other ingredients complemented each other. The quail was perfectly seasoned and cooked.
Summer Squash Gratin ($7) - tomato, white corn, lobster mushroom - Strangely enough this side dish arrived almost after our last few bites of the quail dish. The server stated that they have a small oven. Would have liked this dish to arrive at the same time as our main. I felt this dish was heavy handed with the salt again. If it wasn't for the saltiness I would have enjoyed this dish even more.
Bread was Tartine. We were only given one slice of bread for the two of us to share and had to ask twice for that one slice.
Overall not all dishes were hits but the misses were more due to over salting than anything. Service was a bit on the slow side as was the pacing of the food itself, especially the squash at the the end of our meal. We still enjoyed our meal at Frances with the quality of cooking and would recommend it to others.
Saturday night dinner was at AQ. We had reservations at 6:30 and were seated immediately. I really loved the decor and space of the restaurant.
After being seated AQ graciously sent out two Rose's for our anniversary. Since my wife is 5 months pregnant they were even more gracious enough to make a lime, melon, and pineapple mocktail.
Service was fantastic during our time at AQ. Water was refilled probably no exaggeration 8 times throughout our meal. The server was extremely nice and informative without any pretentiousness. After our meal she asked if we had any plans afterward. I replied "Nothing planned yet. Any ideas?" She thought about it and even sent the manager to our table to offer up a few suggestions. Fantastic that they took the time to do that.
We started our meal with two types of bread and butter.
Honeycomb tripe, plums, charred lemon, szechuan, and wild ginger. ($10). The tripe arrived in a small bowl with the plum consomme being poured over the tripe. I didn't really taste much of the charred lemon or the szechuan but still enjoyed the freshness and lightness of the dish. The tripe was very nicely cooked without being overly chewy. Not a dish for everyone but we enjoyed it.
Soft potato gnocchi, cherry tomatoes, young rabe, curds and whey ($14). This dish was beautifully plated with the beautiful colors of the red, green, and white in a circular shape. The gnocchi were pillowy and delicious. Really enjoyed this dish.
The special of the night was a dover sole. ($25) Dover sole with brussel sprout chips, muscat grapes, onion, and speck. We saw the table next to order this dish and it was another beautifully plated dish. The sole was excellent. Perfectly cooked. Really enjoyed sweet/acidic taste from the grapes and the saltiness from the speck. Delicious!
BBQ Pork, Shelling Beans, Cornbread, Mustard Ash & Tuscan Kale. ($25) Don't know if this was the chefs rift on pork and beans. A very generous portion of pork in this dish. It came with 3 slices of loin I believe it was and a square/cube of super tender shoulder. Server mentioned that the pork was sous vide. The cornbread and mustard was actual in a foam but more like a mousse/foam form. All pieces of pork were perfectly cooked and delicious.
We finished off with 2 cheese with honeycomb, apricot preserves, and some hazel bread. ($8). Great way to end our meal for a very reasonable price.
We were also given as was every other table some house made white chocolate pieces. White chocolate fan here so enjoyed that.
AQ in my opinion was a real winner. We enjoyed the service, decor, and most importantly food there. Would definitely like to return during another season to see how things change. We were there on a Saturday night and the place was say 80% full. Kind of suprprised to see open available seats around.
We always like to try out new restaurants when we come to SF but have our must go to's as well.
XOX Truffles - The wife loves these and can never get enough of them. Always pick up a 20 piece for the weekend to nibble on throughout the day. Our favorite chocolates!
Farmers Market at Ferry Market Building - Never get tired or bored of coming here. Love the Roli Roti porchetta sandwich. Love to walk around to taste the delicious veggies and fruits. Had some amazing early girl farm tomatoes that were sweet like sugar. Had the most fragrant melon at a stand and picked up some delicious pluots and peaches from Frog Hollow. Ohh and got some Humphrey Slocumbe while we were at the market too.
Tartine - Can't get enough of Tartine. Bread pudding, ham and cheese, croque mousier what isn't good here?
We were just in SF in January and the Mission district seems to have changed in such a short time. So many restaurants, shops, and bakeries. Love this place.
Stopped by to try out Knead for the first time before heading to Tartine on Sunday morning. Picked up a couple Pomme D Amore and a chocolate croissant. Wow! That Pomme D Amore lives up to the hype. Taste like a creme brulee in pastry form. Loved the custard and salted caramel. Chocolate croissant was good but I prefer Tartine's over Kneads. Flakier croissant and more chocolate in the Tartine version.
Thanks and until next time!