Chocolate Lab in San Francisco
Mom and I lucked out a month ago, first getting a parking space right there and then sliding into two seats at the communal table at 1PM. Shortly after there was a line of folks waiting for seats. Not much to add to the discussion, but I do have some photos.
We’d hit one of those blue sky but cold days. The frosted glass panels on the windows offer diners some privacy but let in a lot of natural sun. Here’s the table setting and the Pyrex flasks for water.
The savory side of the menu is mostly tartines, and this shows the bank of small ovens for toasting the bread.
We shared two lunch items. The special of the day, Ham and artichoke frittata tartine, $10, featured a thin omelet spread with a layer of pesto. The portions in the middle were better, as the end pieces of bread and frittata were somewhat dried out.
I was not as positive about Tourteau fromage, $12, just a bit too dry as well.
However, the side salad with the tourteau was marvelous. So fresh, very lightly dressed, and some excellent picked cauliflower and green beans as garnish.
We shared a pot of tea, and it was refilled promptly for a second steeping. I also had the Hot chocolate and housemade marshmallow, $4, which just may be the best thing I put in my mouth at Chocolate Lab. A blend of fine chocolates made with H2O and no dairy made the flavors even more intense without the influence of cream.
And for dessert, Chocolate brownie a la mode, $7.50. As noted, the server poured the hot fudge sauce for us. But I didn’t hesitate to use my spoon to scrape out every last bit. Again, the brownie was dried out around the edges and needed the moisture of the ice cream and sauce.
The service was very warm and friendly and we were out in an hour as I had requested to head to our appointment. Yet foodwise, I have mixed feelings. While I did enjoy most of this, at these prices, I expected better execution. But I’m sure to return at some point.
Chocolate Lab slideshow
-chocolate mouse cake-decadent, semimoist , 2 layered cake balanced by miniscoop of vanilla bean ice cream, with "dirt" of chocolate sauce and roasted sliced almonds. (10) great for one timer
5 minicookies, butterly, richly flavored, fab!
fresh ingredients, interesting, not wowed, not filling.
-sparking water a new touch.
Went back for a second time tonight and liked it even more. This time had the "souffle" with a salad, the soup of the day which was a squash soup and the veggie tartine as well as a root beer float, the drinking chocolate and some dragées.
The soup was really excellent and was a good portion too, with a nice serving of creme fraiche on top. The veggie was almost overloaded with the veggies. The "souffle" which server told me they were calling a cheese cake before was little a very light airy sweet pound cake. It's not a souffle at all but that light simpleness of a good souffle. It was pair with a large acidic salad which was need with the sweeter souffle.
The float was good especially the malted milk ice cream but not amazing and it wasn't a huge size.
The drinking chocolate was beautiful, small, strong, slightly bitter with nice homemade mashmellow. The tiny tea cup it was served in was useless, handles are a must for a hot drink.
I'm used to dragées in France where they are always a hard shelled covered nut usually an almond so I don't know if dragées means something different in US pastry. They were chocolate covered nuts and fruits but with more a truffle covering than the hard panned shell. Very tasty and a nice after dinner snack.
There was a constant stream of diners but never any wait even on a Friday night. It's a really charming place to take a date for a drink and a nibble.
Went as a group of three on Saturday mid afternoon. We had 2 sweet (the tarte tatin and the burnt caramel sundae) and one savory (the special artichoke-bacon frittata).
I think the consensus was that the sweets were good, but the frittata was a disappointment. (so, opposite of tjinsf's experience). Maybe eating a frittata while also eating a sundae didn't help.
The space was very nice albeit small: two or three tables for four, as I recall, and a larger community table. Because of the size of the space, your best bet might be to do what we did: go at an off-hour. While it was good, I do not think it would be worth a long wait. Service was friendly.
The sundae was the standout to me. They were using ice cream from Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous, down the street, but we were told they were going to start making their own. The burnt caramel ice cream was rich and creamy, and the choclate sauce was wonderful. I also enjoyed the home-made marshmallows that came on it. It also had chocolate-covered peanut/peanut butter balls on top: a nice touch, though un-necessary.
The tarte tatin was nice. It lacked the burnt-sugar flaver it often has, but that did not bother me.
The disappointment was the savory. The frittata came on those little cocktail sized slices of bread, and the frittata itself was as thin as the bread. Painted on top was a thin slathering of pesto. The pesto overwhelmed any flavor of the frittata, as far as I was concerned (I personally think pesto has become overused, but that's for another thread). And as for the frittata itself, well, if it was indeed the artichoke-bacon special, you could have fooled me. No evidence or flavor of either was present at all. The frittata was in fact flavorless. Maybe they got it wrong and gave us the other frittata on the menu (which I think was a red bell pepper frittata), but it didn't taste like it had bell peppers either. It also did not need all the bread relative to the amount of frittata.
The lemonade was nice and tart.
Overall worth a try. If I happen to find myself in the neighborhood, I'd give it another try.
Went last week. We only tried a couple of the savory dishes and one dessert.
Surprisingly we were more impressed by the savory than the sweet but we haven't tried the whole menu.
we had the bay shrimp tartine and the Frittata Tartine, both were good and nice for sharing. We preferred the frittata tartine as the toppings were warm.
The dessert we had was Bittersweet Chocolate Custard, it was small especially for 10 dollars. The custard had the texture and the creaminess of a pot du creme. The foam added a nice bitterness although the dish wasn't overly sweet to begin with. It was a pretty simple if tasty dessert but I expect more at that price point.
The savory tartines ranging in price from 8-12 were made well and flavourful and made to be shared.
It's in the old piccino space so it's not big but it wasn't busy when we were there on weekend night.
The service was very friendly and helpful and I have no doubt I'll be back often even if it is a wee overpriced.
There's a small but nice range of alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks.
tjinsf's impressions pretty much echo the experience we had. The veggie tartine was really delicious. We had the mousse cake with the same bang for the buck reaction as tjinsf did about the custard.
Both the cafe and the neighboring store had the pleasant, casual, contemporary/industrial vibe that's so omnipresent these days. That's a nice thing, though it tends to make me nostalgic for the days when you didn't have to pay executive prices for bohemian ambience.
It's an interesting counter to the style of their Ferry Building location.
I expect we'll be back, though it would be more of a certainty at a slightly lower price point.