Red Tavern [San Francisco]
I stopped at Red Tavern several months ago for lunch and loved it.
There had been some reports that they run out of things, and we confirmed this a month or so ago when we stopped by at 9:30 on a Saturday night. They were still open, but they said they'd run out of so much that there was no point.
Last night I returned with my visiting parents, and I made a reservation at 8PM in the hopes that all would still be available.
It was; they had everything on the menu. So either they've worked that out, or it's better to arrive early.
Regardless, [a] it was fantastic and [b] there really were a lot of Russians at this Russian restaurant, always a good sign.
Here's what we ordered:
-- borscht. Hot red borscht with meat. Really fantastic. I make it, my mother makes it, and we both agreed this was better than ours.
-- smoked meat soup. Also great, but not as great as the borscht
-- pelmeny siberian. I expected this dish to be in broth, which it was not. But the (veal) pelmeny were really excellent.
-- Baltic herring. Not pickled. Served over onions. Delicious with a little butter over the black bread they serve gratis.
-- cucumber dill salad -- (creamy style). Very good, shy of great.
-- meat blintzes. Good, not great
-- stuffed cabbage. this was not served hot enough, so we couldn't really tell, and we didn't send it back to heat up because we were running out of steam. I think it was good, not great. Leftovers tonight!
-- sour cherry vareneky. To die for. This is the dish that really made me came back after last time. love love love.
In short, I'd order the borscht, baltic herring, pelmeny, and sour cherry vareneky any day of the week. The others I'd still get if I felt for them, but those four are the standouts.
Adding coordinates out of enlightened self interest: 2229 Clement near 24th 415-666-3420 http://www.redtavernsf.com/
Thanks for the tips on great borscht and sweet vareneky, two things it's hard to find back home. How can you not want to visit a place that advertises a dough course? On the (40-page) list!