Gitane 8/24/13 [San Francisco]
Was taken to Gitane for the first time for an early birthday dinner last night. I tend to be very picky and jaded about fancy SF restaurants. But I was completely wowed by this place. This atmosphere is described as sexy on the website. I found it warm and very relaxing, almost soothing. It comes across as unique without being trendy and pretentious or cold as some fancy SF restaurants are. The service was excellent and welcoming. The food is innovative rustic spanish inspired cuisine. Here is what we ate:
Lamb tongue and sweetbreads salad. Excellent. The sweetbreads were crunchy on the outside and creamy inside. Tongue was very meaty.
Crispy suckling pig confit with braised mustard greens. One of the most amazing things I have eaten all year. Hard to say which I liked better the moist pork or the mustard greens. I love mustard greens and can't remember a more perfect preparation.
Braised rabbit meatballs. Very good although not as much wow factor as the previous apps.
I had the pancetta wrapped Guinea hen ballotine. Excellent. The hen was very moist and flavorful. Melted leeks perfectly complimented.
Got to try the pancetta wrapped rabbit which was fantastic and spicy and the duck which was excellent.
For dessert we got this chocolate budino which was like very comforting chocolate pudding.
All in all an excellent meal. The vibe is relaxing, welcoming and down to earth in contrast to someplace like Benu. Wish we had come here sooner. Not super expensive for a special occasion place.
A new co-chef, Patrick Kelly, came aboard in November 2012 and revamped the menu significantly at Gitane. He came from Napa’s Angele and SF’s La Folie, so has tilted the cuisine toward more French technique.
Joining a couple friends for dinner here in February 2013, it was all new to me anyway as a first timer. The fanciful plating and finesse of the cooking seem quite a departure from what I’d read here about Gitane so I’m glad that a new thread’s been started to mark these changes.
Went on impulse last night as Southwest Airlines and/or the SFPD didn't bother to make allowances for anyone to cross the route of the Chinese New Year parade we hadn't expected since the holiday ended a week ago.
Worked out fine as we had a really good meal. Standouts were fried rabbit with braised snails and house-made goat merguez with a spiced yogurt that was a lighter riff on Catalan apple aioli. Braised octopus, grilled smelt, and pork-stuffed squid with pasta in ink sauce were all good, too. Only complaint is that they don't have bread to sop up the great sauces.
New chef is Alicia Jenish, who was the opening chef at Revival.
Some interesting stuff on the wine list, drank a delicious Forlorn Hope Verdejo.
re: Robert Lauriston
Ok, stopped by today, on the early side at the bar.
First - we were on the early side on a monday, but the place was empty. They have all that outside seating in Belden Pl, so lots of tables and the always great bar.
Mixed drinks were good. I wish there was more dark liquor, but everything served up was snappy and tasty.
Food was also good. I'm not sure, on a single visit, about great. Certainly will be worth a second try. We didn't eat as much of the menu, but I liked the blood sausage pizza, the local herring was interesting (surprisingly mild), the use of some excellent citrus. Cheese offerings were nice on the menu but we skipped them.
Tip re bread: just ask. We also got the mergez, it's a small portion but very good and potent with the sauces, and I was dying for bread. I asked... they delivered.
Reminder: this is steps away from Rickhouse, because you can enter the bar from the main street, and the entrance is right across from Rickhouse.
This place has moved up considerably in the "no reservations SF" mental list I have, until it becomes popular.
Annoyance: price. For $120 otd for two, it was a little light. GF prefers light food, so not a major issue. I would normally expect a little more for that price point.
The only breads on the dinner menu we got were the two flatbreads, the blood sausage one ($14) and the zatar coca ($4). I asked for regular bread and the server said they didn't have any.
They're connected with Cafe Claude and Claudine, so maybe a more resourceful server could have snagged some from there.