Rich Table - SF - Report
I dined at Rich Table for the first time this past week, and overall thought it was very good. I had a $100 gift certificate which pretty much covered the entire meal (before tip).
Reservation for 2 was for 8:15, and when we walked in at 8:13, the table was ready and we were seated right away. Service is very attentive and friendly, and as others have noted, the servers don't seem to be in any rush. Our server answered a few questions, and also gave some recommendations.
Tables are relatively close together, and we noticed that several independent parties struck up conversations. We talked several times w/ the table to our left, and meanwhile the table to our right was chatting away with the next table....and even sharing some food. There's definitely a general level of excitement, and diners here seem to be people who are excited about the menu.
We shared everything:
Yu Choy Hearts, Lemon, Black Garlic - A nice prepartion of this vegetable (it wasn't really hearts, but rather just pieces of yu choy)—I liked the black garlic sauce. But we can (and do) cook this vegetable equally well at home so this didn't wow us.
Sardine Chips w/ Horseradish Sauce - We had heard lots of raves about these chips, so I think we were slightly let down with them since our expectations were so high. But they were still really good. Sardines are inserted into a potato chip, and fried. Presentation was lovely, and taste was...well, sort of like a potato chip w/ a sardine. The best part for me was the sauce, which had a mild horseradish flavor and a nice creaminess. We dipped the bread in it as well.
Douglas Fir Levain, House Cultured Butter - Definitely worth the $4 price tag, since this order included 4 pretty thick pieces of fragrant bread. I loved the flavor of the douglas fir...it added a sweet, yeasty flavor. My dining companion was a bit less enamored.
Garganelli, Date Braised Oxtail, Buckwheat, Flowering Raab - This was my favorite dish of the night by a longshot....the meat was sweet, the buckwheat added an earthy tone, the pasta was tender. This dish was like nothing I had ever tasted before, which is always exciting. The flavors were unexpected and it really worked. We told the table next to us that they should order it, and they loved it as well. I hope this stays on the menu indefinitely.
Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Sprouting Broccoli, Sunchokes - This dish was a bit less successful, but still pretty good. We were served one large piece of pork belly, and then two smaller pieces. The dish also had sunchokes and Asian pear. It was too salty, but the flavors were nice...I wished it was accompanied by something sour or cooling, like a slaw or some pickled vegetables or something to cut the saltiness. Pork was pretty tender, but I couldn't cut it with a spoon. Probably wouldn't rush to order this again, but pork belly fans would probably enjoy it, especially if they can tone down the salt. The "sprouting broccoli" was also pretty salty, and seemed to me to be identical to the "flowering raab" from the previous dish.
Caramelized olive oil cake, kiwi fruit, lime sherbet - I liked this cake a lot, though it was slightly too dry. I would have liked a bit more lime sherbet, or perhaps some sort of citrus sorbet instead. Kiwis were sweet. I felt this was a bit outshined by the other dessert though....
Buttermilk panna cotta, honey oatmeal crumble - This panna cotta was outstanding. I thought it was better than Incanto's version. Smooth custard, delicious topping w/ bits of honey-comb-like honey crunch amidst the oatmeal. Highly recommended.
Carafe of white wine was $25 - we had an Italian Sauvignon Blanc which was pretty good but nothing too memorable.
Overall, I liked this place a lot, and I'd definitely return. I'm excited to see what happens on the menu as spring and summer approach!
I called at 1 minute past midnight on June 9 to score a reservation for July 7.
Crowded, busy,noisy, happy, upscale-but-'casual',lively, place that reminds me of the old Stars Cafe (not Stars restaurant but also owned by celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower) that we loved in the '80's.
Fun to watch Chef Rich finish/taste/serve dishes and generally orchestrate everything.
The sardine chips were great but the sauce needed more horseradish to penetrate the luscious taste of the mezcal cocktail I had with it.
The watermelon salad was exquisite.
The octopus/roasted beet dish was unique and really, really good.
The dark chocolate pot de creme ......wasn't. Silky smooth but I was left with the taste of burnt strawberries rather than choc. Afterwards I was disgusted with myself for eating the whole thing just hoping for more flavor!