What's wrong with Slanted Door? [San Francisco]
Has it taken a precipitous decline in quality?
Was just there for dinner and everything we had was either tasteless (dumplings, spareribs, shaking beef) or cloyingly sweet (shrimp, papaya salad) and/or poorly cooked (beef, shrimp, spinach and bok choy).
I haven't been to SD in about 3 years now, but if memory serves me correct the food there was once exciting, fresh and had a vibrant energy that sort of permeated the room.
Now? It seems tired and ... dead.
I actually ended up grabbing a sandwich and a some soup at Boudin on the way back to my hotel.
Doesn't surprise me, although it's been a very long time since I last ate at the SD, this was sometime after they moved from the Valenica original spot, but before they moved to Ferry Building. The food was good then, but I disliked the desserts.
The partners and investors involved in Charles Phan's various projects are really stretching things out and beyond last 5 to 6 years. One of the post SD/OTD projects was Heaven's Dog which is a very hip hangout bar with a Cantonese and Vietnamese small plates menu, then The General Store / Wor Hing came about fairly recently (which didn't do so well), and now one or two other projects very recently came out, that I've lost track or wanting to keep up or try.
Heaven's Dog was an attempt to squeeze in pork belly bun slider type apps, won ton noodle soup and the like...but their core strength was the bar staff in whipping up mean cocktails. That was circa 2007/2008. Charles hired Andy Wai to be chef de cuisine who didn't really have much of a say on the food menu (I was even told indirectly not to bother going to try the food).
Then Out The Door...the food quality has also declined...but I still find their reinterpretation of the Hong Kong milk tea interesting....an upwards of a 7 leaf blend, with a stronger accent on Jasmine that adds a complex dimension and fragrance. But it only takes an additional dollop of condensed milk if the brewer is not careful, to ruin the experience by making it too sweet.
While Charles doesn't quite have the same level celebrity chef status like Tyler Florence or Martin Yan, he still has quite a large following amongst the crowds who like to be seen at places such as Hakkasan, Mission Chinese Food, or M.Y. China, all of which are acceptable to some level depending on how open one's mindset is even if inevitably comparing with traditional styles.
I had an asparagus dish at the bar the other day that was so good it made me wonder why people run down the food. I don't go there often but I've found it consistently good. Maybe the kitchen gets sloppy at peak hours, I always go late or early.
I like the atmosphere at the bar (no view) and the bartenders always seem super-professional and nice. In contrast, the dining room reminds me of a 60s airport departure gate and the table service always seemed casual and perfunctory for the price. I'd rather go to Out the Door on Bush.