Fog City, SF reopens Mon 9/23/13 for dinner
Just went last Saturday (after the SF Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt was over). Very helpful with the reservations since I had booked a table for 6 using Open Table -- but then a few more people wanted to join. When I called Fog City, the hostess was apologetic but said she didn't have a bigger table available. But then called back a few minutes later and said that somehow Open Table had booked the largest table without her realizing it. In the end, we had 9 people comfortably sitting around a booth table.
I had been to the earlier incarnation (Fog City Diner) years ago, but thought the revamped space seemed nice. Although the front door wasn't on the Embarcadero side where I assumed it would be.
To start, we ordered 2 plates of the deviled eggs and 1 order of the fries. I thought the deviled eggs were good but nothing original, and the fries were interesting although perhaps too different for the traditionalists. I liked the pears with the Brussels sprouts, but the sprouts were too charred for my taste.
For mains, we ordered kamachi crudo, grilled spice lamb skewers, the whole chicken, and 2 orders of the rib-eye (medium rare and medium). For sides, we ordered the butter lettuce salad, grilled kale salad and broccoli di cicco,
I didn't sample everything, but my favorite were the lamb skewers. The ribeye seemed fine, and most of us thought the lemon flavor was overpowering in the crudo (the only dish that didn't arrive in a timely fashion).
For dessert, my husband and I shared the chile apple pie which had a nice streusel topping but not enough bite from the promised chiles.
Although one of our friends felt there wasn't enough food, I thought it was fine. Plus the staff let us stay past closing until midnight without complaining, which definitely deserves praise.
In all, a solid meal in a convivial setting although no dish really stood out for me.
I just noticed this past weekend that the aluminum siding on the exterior was completely scrapped and it's now a boring nondescript red brick building without any character and little incentive for me to want to return. I didn't visit the old FC often because the kitchen was running a pretty mediocre and overpriced operation, but the few times that I did, was entirely because of the ambiance. Sounds like they're still turning out MOR quality with a newly renovated space to match the prosaic cuisine. I'm personally not going back.
Overall good meal, but the most anticipated and filling dish was a dud. The seasonal focus and variety of vegetable and seafood small plates would draw me back again to explore more of the menu.
+Brussels Sprouts Asian Pears Ponzu : Good char and lack of oiliness on the sprouts, optimal sweetness and tenderness in the pears. The ponzu nicely married the sprouts and pears.
Well executed versions of dishes common this time of year:
+Blistered Mariquita Farm Peppers Korean Sea Salt
+Grilled Mission Fig Salad Baby Lettuces, Point Reyes Blue Prosciutto, Walnut Gremolata
Pretty good :
+Smoked King Salmon Chilled Beets, Crème Fraiche, Combier Aquavit, Local Fennel, and Herbs : 4 portions of salmon, each smaller than nigiri, spaced out from eachother and surrounded by accompaniments. I couldn't figure out how you're supposed to eat this--- the combination of textures was appealing, but the intense beets overwhelmed the flavor of the king salmon on my first bite. Wiping the salmon off, I found the second bite delicious.
+Berkshire Pork Cheeks Bacon Braised Romano Beans Hatch Chilies, Forest Mushrooms and Soft Polenta : beans took on a nice smokiness
+Wood Oven Whole Chicken Charred Brentwood Corn, Crispy Potatoes, and Spiced Maldon Salt : this has gotten some press and the server called this their signature dish. A cast iron skilled arrives at the table with a spatchcocked chicken (minus the ribs and backbone), four 2-3" pieces of corn on the cob, and some potatoes. Very pretty. Spiced salt and a lemon half cooked in the juices are meant to be added to the chicken by the customer. The chicken was underseasoned and a bit dry, especially the breast--- I'd prefer the seasoning to be done in the kitchen rather than at the table. Removing the rib cage makes it easier for the server to cut the chicken into 4 pieces, but leaves out important gnawing material.
The $3 plate of Panorama bread is a necessary purchase to help fill you up if you want to leave for under $50/person.
re: Robert Lauriston
I didn't pay close enough attention to its flavor to realize it wasn't 100% butter. but it was a good quality salted fat product. I do remember that the shape of the pat was a little bit irregular, suggesting it wasn't just cut from a stick. For the amount of bread we received, they gave us a wasteful amount--- even with generous spreads, we finished less than half of it.
A couple of more thoughts now that I've been there a few times:
1. Overpriced, but so was the old place back in the 90s. Nostalgia buffs longing for the old place may take solace in the continuity in that respect.
2. The beef tongue dish complemented by mushrooms worked really well. Loved it. $17 well spent.
3. French fries -- quite good. But 6 bucks?
4. Pickled shrimp. For $17, a very light dish for good or bad.
5. Ribeye. OK for the money, but that's about it.
6. Burger. Decent combination of condiments and bun, but not a place to go if you are into a serious patty. At $14 without fries, this dish does a great job of convincing people that the new place is every bit as overpriced as the old one. Very comforting should you have a bout of pricing nostalgia.
7. Service is very good in the sense that they obviously hired very good people. Must have been considered a reasonably hot opening in order to attract that kind of talent. There are very real timing issues with the kitchen, but it's a restaurant in its second week of existence, so what would you expect?
8. Supposedly, they will start serving the full menu at the bar tomorrow.
9. Looks like it will be a hit given that it's already packing people in.
It sounds good at least; does anyone know who's running the kitchen or why it closed down to begin with? Have there been any renovations (I hope not!) and is it under completely new ownership? The menus look similar in design though the food seems a bit more refined. It's hard to go wrong with fresh fish and meat and the location and setting are unbeatable so I'm looking forward to trying it out!