Anyone been to Fenix in San Rafael?
Fenix is a new-ish food-music venue in downtown San Rafael. Regarding the food, yelp reviews run from very good, to poor with small portions and high prices.
Well here is a long reply for you Malcolm. I was taken there by my sons for Father's Day, mostly for the music rather than the food. We did not know what to expect but were pleasantly surprised. While we did not see it as a destination place for the food alone, the combination of a full service meal while sitting a short distance from live music was unique, like a very modern version of a place where William Powell and Myrna Loy or Fred and Ginger might have a martini while some big band played on stage. Fenix looks decidedly contemporary but is that rarity, a real supper club. As for dinner, dishes were more elaborate and generally better than might be expected in a music venue.We began by sharing deviled eggs and I had a caesarish baby romaine salad; both of these were very good if not spectacular and I had to fight the guys for my share of the eggs. Appetizers were also available in dinner portions and I had the pair of Devils Gulch quail with red wine vinaigrette which was a well-conceived dish but the quail were not as rare as desired. One son had long cooked sous vide boneless short ribs with sides of parsnip puree vegetables sharing the plate. It was as I have found other sous vide preparations, only gently tasty and with too soft a texture to be a satisfying chew. The winner was son number two's lamb porterhouse chop au jus which came with quinoa and salad and was very tasty. Wine list was primarily familiar Californians of the robust variety, but quality examples of the type--we chose a central coast syrah which had a reasonable mark-up and was good with the dishes we chose. The bar featured a good selection of whiskeys and a number of house special cocktails about which I can say nothing, being an on-the-rocks sort. I limited myself to beignets for dessert from a menu with far more elaborate items, but then I just wanted something to accompany my Americano and confess to not being much of a dessert person anyway. I am not sure what the Yelp poster was complaining about both as to size (certainly ample for me), and price (the highest cost item going for $28). As to quality, no complaints for what is primarily a music club. We saw a really good jazz group doing a tribute to one of our favorites, Art Blakey. Other nights may have blues, 70s soul, western swing--a real gamut. I would be happy to dine there again if the music drew me.
Today I had lunch with a friend at Fenix. We split a small order of Shrimp and Grits (reported on in a thread under "Shrimp and Grits", this month's Dish of the Month) and the "PSY’S GANGNAM, Korean bbq short rib sandwich, jalapeños, cilantro, carrots, aioli, kimchee, baguette 10". The sandwich was quite good, reminding us of a high-quality Vietnamese Banh-Mi, everything coming together very well.
A (very) few photos: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/fenix
Shrimp and Grits posting:
Last Wednesday I heard from Chef Glenn "Gator" Thompson that he'd started at Fenix last week. He's listed on the website now,
He's been out of the area for two years and has a baby boy, Giovanni. He said he's glad to be back on the scene and not as an owner. He promises a new menu with his southern style creations by mid-May.
For more about Gator,